Lately, I have been trying to persuade my husband to start trying for a third child. Some days, after much coaxing, he's all in. Other times he looks at me with a shell-shocked expression and says, "We are already stressed and in the weeds, why do you want to add to it?" It's true, the majority of my time is currently devoted to our two little boys, ages 2 and 4. And granted, there's so much joy, but there remain the waves of chaos that test my limits not only as a mother but as a human being in general.
My current alarm is a loud voice at 5 a.m. crying my name, exploding with demands, or an idling little face at my bedside, still half asleep, teeter-tottering while dawdling to the potty. Leaving the house is a tornado of coats, shoes, and snacks and a last-minute hunt for the car keys. Meanwhile, toys and little things journey to all crevices of the house and find homes under furniture, in shoes, or abandoned in pockets. Mealtimes, I ping-pong from my dining chair for refills, requests, and reheats. Bedtime is a no-bargain "Mommy only" routine, even with my husband standing by with open arms. But once all is calm and I can think straight, my answer is always yes, yes I do want to do this again.
Why? Well, based on my everyday ups and downs, and more importantly the conservation of my own sanity, I remind myself constantly that somewhere buried in all the chaos, there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. A simple moment, like a baby belly laugh, the feeling of a slumbering body against your chest, or the pride experienced in a first step outweighs all the endured craziness.
This must be the reason why older parents are constantly telling me that I will miss it all eventually. They say I'll miss who I was when my children were young, the early years with the ever-changing stages, where once carefully counted months compound into years flown by.
I have seen it in the faces of those that pass me at the grocery store, with my two boisterous little boys in the cart. They watch as I unravel little fingers from captured items, from my hair, from each other. They saunter by, gently taking in the scene, and then smile when my eyes meet theirs. And I sense a feeling of longing, as they see the faces of my boys as their own children, as they remember a time when they were living out their own adventures as parents. And it makes me sad, as time taps me on my shoulder and begs me to revel in the present while it is still at my fingertips.
Because as veteran parents, I think they know something that I've yet to understand. They've realized that in the near future, there won't be a little face I can cup perfectly in my palms and cover in kisses, or a wake-up call with extended arms beckoning morning snuggles. There will be no little shoes to place on little feet or cheeks red and cold that need my warming. No more boo-boos that can only be healed by my kisses, followed by a quiet moment where I get to sneak in a thousand more. And no tired head that rests upon my shoulder, a slumbering breath against my neck, and sweet renditions of Twinkle Twinkle in my ear.
So yes, I do want to do this again, I want to sink into this and be a part of it for just a little longer. I will be the orchestrator of this chaos; the chaos that defines me, the chaos that makes it all worth it.