And that ain’t the half of it, sister! I’ve decided family can be defined as a group of individuals who can spend an entire weekend grouching at one another while on vacation, over one thing or another to then desperately miss each other come Monday morning ; to only then swing the wide tremolo back to cranking at each other over what all didn’t get done over said weekend when they were busy grouching at each other. Need I go on?
We were going on vacation. You know, to the mountains, just for a couple of days; to rest and enjoy each other’s company in a slightly cooler altitude. Only, anyone who has ever taken a vacation with small children knows that rest is not a very good goal for a trip out of the house in the heat of summer. There is of course the need to pack everything including the kitchen sink, followed by the slow and late night discovering of which necessities you certainly forgot, coupled with children who spend the drive up eating due to their impending and certain starvation, only to announce their absolute fullness at the arrival of the restaurant. Then, if you are lucky like us; every stranger you run into, stay next to, apologize to for the flinging of food onto their plate and splashing of pool water into their eyes; will happily coo over your 15 week old while strangely intimately and unthinkingly reach out to help you pack up to go while assuring you that you don’t bother them at all. At each meal. Each swim time. Basically whenever you leave your room. And, because you greatly need to; you believe them.
Sugarplum is still new enough to this sweet old world that people will routinely ask us how we are doing as a family of five and a cat. The answer you get quite honestly depends on the day you ask. And probably my hormone level at that time as well. It goes from ridiculously blissfully sweet moments filled with unending gratitude and a feeling of such rightness, to a three-ring circus blowing in the wind in mere moments. I have to laugh at it. I don’t usually. I haven’t in the past. But I have to now. Slowly, I’m learning to. That’s the gift this third child is bringing into my life. There is something about being able to share these daily ordinary bits of chaos and commiserate with others attending the same circus event that makes it not so bad. Humorous, even. I know we’re going to miss this. I know as the aging Floridian, playing mermaid with my 5 year old in the pool remarked, “These years when your daughters are young, they are your best. They were my best years.”
So I try to remember that. I try to heed his advice. To hear his kind words that they don’t bother him at all with their rascally loud play that starts early in the morning before my caffeine has been vein-loaded. To not hush Zuzu’s exuberance too much. To know and really see that the baby is phenomenally lovely. To be amazed by all our precocious three-year old can do for herself. And to take those preciously short moments of quiet to smile back at each of them.
Because it passes. The good and the bad hours. This past weekend’s aggravations were mostly explained by the burst of the three-year-old’s eardrum early Saturday morning and mostly cured 24 hours later by the saturation of antibiotics in her system once the good pediatrician on-call took our word for it and called in a prescription to a nearby pharmacy. And, once one child stops crying, the others eventually follow suit.
Tuesday’s continuation of my aggravated mood were alleviated by a cyber-summing up of it, writing it out and letting it go when dear Lisa-Jo so unnervingly timely in her sentiments, unknowingly commiserated with our momma-failings and reminding us that we are doing it. That things go wrong. We lose our temper. We regret losing our temper. We’re tired. We feel guilty. We feel frustrated. We want to cry and when no one is looking, we do. Fact of the matter is, the cat throw-up did get cleaned up. The groceries did get restocked. The kefir spill was on the linoleum and not the carpet. The pediatrician did call in the prescription. A few moments of quiet gazing at a still lake and twinkling stars did happen. The birthday cake was infinitely delicious with its three milks and sugar glaze, even if it wasn’t eaten on the exact birthday itself. The neighboring strangers were endearingly kind rather than sharp with us. And, we will do it all again in a heartbeat. Just as soon as that ear infection is gone. And the laundry is put away. And the shower curtain is cleaned. And the dishes are washed. And the grass is mowed. Or maybe before then….probably before then.