They share a room (the older two, at least). They share food. They share clothing, toys (we do not buy two or three of everything just because there are three of them), the garden hose, and germs (boy oh boy do they share germs). They share books during story time, Oliver leaning into Milo as he slowly turns the pages. They share space in the bath tub and on my lap, wrestling time with Andrew and time on the swing in our back yard.
But I think the hardest thing they have to share is time with me or Andrew. It’s a major source of guilt these days. Though Milo is growing up and has always been a very independent kid, he is still only 5, and he often seeks out my attention at the worst possible times. During lunch and dinner prep, he suddenly wants to play Uno. As soon as I have to wipe the bottom of a little brother or change a diaper or sweep up yet another broken plate courtesy of Emil, he wants me to read to him. Then the dog runs through the house with muddy paws and heads upstairs for my pillow, no doubt. When I need to put Emil down for a nap, Milo yearns to ride his bike up and down the sidewalk.
I find myself saying 2,311,891 times a day “Just a minute, Milo,” “In a couple minutes, Buddy,” “Try to wait a little longer.” It sucks. To try to head off this problem, I give Milo and Oliver lots of attention when we’re not in crisis mode, but you know how everything seems to fall apart all at once? It’s sort of the story of our lives right now. As in, everyone is playing quietly and nicely, and then suddenly, they’re not.
And I know this will pass. Because the more they can do for themselves, the more independent they become, the less urgent their needs will be. I will have time. I will say “YES!” enthusiastically instead of “In just a minute,” knowing full well it will be more like ten.
There are parts of motherhood that I find completely lonely and crazy-making. These parts, no one warned me about. They are not the moments grandmothers and aunts and family friends tell you about when you are bringing your first babe into the world. Probably because they are so fleeting, and they are not the parts of motherhood we want to remember, but they are there, and when you are in the thick of them, they can pull you down underwater just long enough to remind you that you are dependent on that breath and you’d better swim back up and take charge of it. You had better breathe.
Part of motherhood is sharing a piece of yourself, no, many pieces of yourself with your children. And let me say that the more kids you have, the more pieces you have to dish out, only the pieces are smaller because there’s only so much of you to go around, and those kids are still hungry for more of you. I cried today thinking about this. Mom as pie.
Of course, sharing yourself is a wonderful, giving, amazing thing to do. I think it is making me a stronger and better person- a person who can understand strangers so much better. They are all someone’s sons and daughters. They all need someone. I never thought of life that way before becoming a mother.
But sometimes, I don’t want to share. I am two years old again, only this time, pulling on a piece of my self, yelling, “MINE!” while my parents look on with worry.
I think it’s fair, given all the loving and grateful and joyful posts I write about my family and my boys, to show the other side. How I feel on those other days, stripped down to the bare, ugly, sometimes selfish truth. I want to do whatever I want sometimes.
I want all the pieces for myself.