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No Such Thing as 'Typical' for a Mother

The only certain thing is uncertainty

It’s 8:30 on a Tuesday night.

We had dinner, cleaned up, played with the dog and took a walk around the block. We bought a head of cabbage from a neighbor who sells vegetables from his garden.

I’ve given Jedidiah his bath and settled him into his crib; his sisters are still running around outside, getting a few more minutes of playing in before bedtime. I squeeze in a few minutes of scrapbooking as my husband finishes up with the mower outside. 

It’s a typical night at our house. 

Sadie is practicing the baton moves she learned at camp a few weeks ago. The silver flashes in the setting sun as she twirls it, her wrist a blur. Josie draws on the driveway with neon sidewalk chalk, her hands bright green and dusty, a pink and yellow sun sprawling next to her outstretched leg. Adelaide balances on the swing, pushing herself back with her tiptoes and staring into the branches of the tree above her. I work, cutting and pasting, and I’m alone with my thoughts.

As a mom, each section of my life seems to last an eternity. It doesn’t seem like I will ever be done changing diapers, like I will ever get a full night’s sleep again.

As I look back, though, it seems as if time has flown by. Sometimes I get bogged down with the mundane tasks I face every day. The laundry. The cleaning. The whining. The cooking. Sometimes it’s so repetitive and boring. But I realize that before I know it, my house will be full of teenagers and hormones and drama, so I should enjoy the simple monotony – the daily boredom – while I still have that luxury.

Looking through my scrapbook, I see visual tokens of my memories. I know that newborns and delivery rooms and baby showers are part of my past. Folding baby clothes, hearing first words and watching first steps are quickly becoming a part of that past, too. I know that dealing with broken hearts and developing friendships with my children are part of my future.

It seems like every time I think I have everything under control, like I finally feel like I might know what I’m doing, life changes again. Motherhood changes again. I am in constant limbo, constantly adapting to what these beautiful creatures do and learn with each passing day.

The only certain thing is uncertainty. 

I call the girls inside and help them into the tub. I revel in their silliness, the shampoo horns in their hair and the bubble beards on their chins. I try to live for the moment and not worry about all the water on the floor or the heap of dirty clothes in the corner.

I listen to their laughter as they enjoy the simple pleasure of taking a bath. I help them brush their teeth, in all stages of development – little pearly baby teeth, barely showing permanent teeth poking up in empty spaces, grown-up teeth that seem just a bit too big for a 7-year-old mouth. 

I’m surrounded by the normality that is my daily life.

But then, imperceptibly, a new normal will sneak in and take its place. What was normal will become just a memory. A memory of how they used to interact with each other. A memory of how they used to talk, to sing, to giggle. A memory of how they used to be with me. A memory of who I used to be with them.

Tuesday night won’t ever be the same again.

Jesse Lansing August 22, 2011 at 02:02 AM
If I wasn't such a coldhearted person, I'd probably be in tears right now... Instead of just the one little cold tear that I had when reading this.
Kate Pitrone August 22, 2011 at 11:26 AM
Not tears and not cold-hearted, but I thought those thoughts back when and think they help keep the experience fresh. Funny, what I miss is waking up in the night with an infant, that time alone, giving comfort in semi-darkness, creating enough quiet peace to end the moment. Every well-slept night is forgotten. This morning, the sleepless ones are what I recall with pleasure.
Sharon August 23, 2011 at 05:19 AM
You touch my heart! You have a wonderful way of describing how important each day and each segment of the day can be. Hang on to these beautiful memories and relive them as often as you can. They will be 'in the past' all too soon. Must get a tissue now.
gail gorby September 01, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Moments you'll never forget! You always leave me teary-eyed. Life goes to fast.
Devone September 05, 2011 at 11:23 PM
Kate - you're so right! Since my son is probably our last child, I don't mind nearly as much when I have to get up with him in the middle of the night. I'm sure I'll remember those nights fondly in the future too. :)
Shanna September 26, 2011 at 03:11 AM
You make me cry--it's a good thing!!

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