Friday, October 5, 2012

Essays on Motherhood {pt. 4 - Be Happy}

A few days ago, we had a fridge repairman in our home. I was home with Grey, Micah, and our neighbor's daughter - who is the same age as the boys. The repairman, whose name was John, saw me coming up the driveway with all the three kids and said, "Those can't all be yours, unless you have triplets."
"Well, these two are mine, and they're twins," I said. "But this one is a neighbor."
"Sheesh," said John. "I wouldn't wish twins on anyone."
Since people say this sort of thing to me on at least a weekly basis, it didn't faze me in the slightest. I just said, in an offhand way (while distracted by ushering all the kids into the house) "Well, you should. Twins are so fun."
"I know exactly how fun twins are," said John. "I have a set of twins myself."
We talked for another few minutes about his twins (adults now) and then he set to work on the fridge, while I herded, played with, and wiped the noses of the kids.
I usually keep up a running commentary (mostly with myself), when I'm home with just kids. So John got to hear a lot of this:

"There, can you drive the train around the track? No, please don't break the track, the boys want to play with it. Do you want to read this story? Who is on the front of this story? That's right, it's Pooh Bear! Okay, one second, I'll go get some tissue because all of your noses are SO runny! Hey! Do we hit? No. You need to say that you're sorry. Can you give her a hug? Thank you!"

After about fifteen minutes of this, the boys and I came out to the living room to search for more pieces of our train track, and John peeked his head around the refrigerator door to say, "Wow. You really seem to enjoy this, don't you?"

I've heard this several times, actually. That somehow - against all odds, and to people's amazement- I enjoy motherhood. But not just motherhood, but the day in and day out of just being a mom. This is not completely true, I'll admit. Somedays, I want to pull my hair out. Somedays, I lock my kids in their room for hours at a time. Somedays, Travis comes home and I shove the boys into his arms and take off running towards the nearest Gap Outlet.

But that isn't most days. Most days, I love to be a mom. A few months ago (or was it already almost a year ago?) a friend with brand new twins said, "You just seem to really love it. Every minute. Is that how you really feel?" and a few weeks ago, when I said hopefully to a best friend, "Maybe you'll get pregnant with twins!" she replied, "I know you really like having twins, but I think I would cry."

And I've been thinking a lot about why this is. Surely, my kids have tantrums just as often as any other children. They throw their food at the wall. They head-butt me HARD in the collarbone. They hit and push each other. And I spend the majority of my time wiping noses, talking to myself, sitting in my own house, folding laundry, and sweeping sweeping sweeping sweeping sweeping my house.
But I am happy. I love my life. I look at people who are in school, married without kids, unmarried and traveling the world, and give myself a little self-satisfied pat on the back. "Good job, self," I say (sometimes aloud, because clearly I'm insane.) "You've found the perfect life."
Because it's not an act. I am happy, almost all the time.
And I think that the reason that I'm happy, is that I have selective memory.

When we went on a hike a few days ago, I got out of breath carrying a toddler who refused to walk up a hill, and then I got hit in the head with a rock while they threw stones into the river, and then I had to listen to Micah scream the entire way home, but what I choose remember is this: We went on a hike, and the leaves were beautiful, and we all had fun, and we collected acorns, and Travis was cute.
And then I'm happy.

When my newborns used to wake up in the middle of the night, over and over and over again, and they would throw up on me, and their puke would run down my shirt and pool in the cups of my bra, and get mushed up in my hair - but I was too tired to shower, so I tried to wipe myself off and then go back to sleep, what I would choose to remember was this: They woke up and clung to my neck, and they loved me more than anyone else, and we fell asleep cuddled together in our big family bed.
And then I'm happy.

And when Travis works 14 hour days for an entire month and never sees the boys when they're awake, and when he's home, he's too tired to eat my cooking and just eats cereal and then leaves the milk on the table all night, and offers to make me a sandwich, but forgets to cut it in half (even though I hate when sandwiches aren't cut in half), what I remember is this: Travis is working his butt off for our family because he loves us. And he made me a sandwich, even though all he wants to do is lay down and die, and at least I'm not a single parent, because then I'd have to take care of the boys by myself and have a job.
And then I'm a bit happier. Although, not completely content.

And, you know what? I think that's okay. I think it's good. I don't remember a single fight with Travis. I know for sure that we've had them... but I don't remember. It happens, and then we make up, and I forget it. It's not important. I'm not writing it in my journal or on my blog. I'm not dwelling on it.
And so in a year, when I look back at us now - I'll just know that we were happy and I won't be reminded of other things that I should have moved past. I'll look at pictures from our hike and think, "Wasn't that beautiful? Fall is so lovely in the mountains. We should go on a hike this weekend, it will be so fun, and happy."
And it will be. Because I want to be happy.

And when I tell Travis that it's time for another baby, there's no way he'll be able to talk me out of it by reminding me how scary the boys' birth was, or telling me about our sleepless months - because all I remember is the first time that I held Grey and he opened his eyes and looked at me, and the way that Micah used to press his face into my neck, so I could feel his quick, sweet breath.

And usually after I lock my kids in their room for a few hours, they want to come out and hug me, and I just want to cover them with kisses, because they're so cute. And when I'm standing in line at the Gap (and my arms are inevitably filled with little boy's clothes), I want to watch videos of Grey and Micah on my phone while I wait. And then I want to show the cashier pictures of my adorable twins.
I want to drive home as fast as I can, and sneak into their room and look at them sleeping.
And I've already forgotten how monstrous they were that day, and all I remember is that they are the most beautiful creatures I've ever seen.
And I'm happy.

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Bethany G said...


This was just so perfect and inspiring. Bah! I don't know you, but after reading this post I love you I love you I love you.

Your babies have one good momma!

Casey said...

You're so adorable. You are a fantastic mother!

Amy said...

I love this! The more I grow up and get to know different people the more I realize that happiness is a skill. It comes naturally to some, but for others it takes practice. A lot of people think that others are happy simply because they live a different life than them, when really it's just that the other person has learned to let go of the same small grievances. I think it is really awesome that you are sharing the "how" behind your happiness.

Katie and Matt said...

Yep, that about sums it up.

The Jacksons said...

The last paragraph of this is so right in so many ways. I find myself so anxious to get my kids in bed at night, because if I have to look at them for 30 more seconds I fear I'm going to strangle them. But when morning comes I'm so antsy for them to wake up that I usually wake them up so we can play together. Isn't being a mother the greatest thing in the entire world?

Unknown said...

LOVE these essays. LOVE LOVE LOVE them. Nicely done.

Unknown said...

this is really awesome. thanks so much for sharing!!

Marge Bjork said...

you're really great

Karissa said...

I love this. I love your essays on motherhood. My husband and I were actually talking about choosing to be happy just today (because of Pres Uchtdorf's talk). The more I go through life the more I realize that happiness is a choice. It's definately a lot easier to choose to be happy some days than other days, but we always have the choice. Like, when I was doing the dishes the other day and I was complaining about doing the dishes (because they are my very least favorite of chores) and then I remembered that I once heard someone say they were grateful they had dishes to do because it means that they just ate a meal with those dishes.

Unknown said...

So inspiring, and so beautifully written. I needed to read this today... Thank you.

MARCIE said...

When I was your age I had three kids under two. I don't remember being as cheerful as you, but they sure were adorable. Life changes and I expect you are way past the most difficult part of having twins...the first year. Now you have kids who are growing up together and will be friends forever. Love you!

Mama Filipka said...

This was so good piece to read at the beginning of the day! Thank you. You are such a great mum and when looking at you and your boys I truly wish I had twins..Instead I only have one boy (the same age as yours). Greetings from far far away!