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This too shall pass, really.

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There are many mommy moments, even now, I’m not certain I’ve the strength to muster through, but then the next minute comes and I realize I survived, it gives me hope. This is not to say the journey has left me with all my sanity intact, far from it, but I’m confident I shall reach my destination with a wee bit left.

This too shall pass is a fitting mantra for mommies. I’ve said it during diaper duty and flu season, hectic mornings with missing shoes and terrible tantrums in the night. Teen angst . . . this too shall pass. Homework hassles . . . this too shall pass. Sibling rivalry at its worst . . . this too shall, who am I kidding, this one never ends.

Basically, when you think you simply can’t take a moment more you have to remind yourself you really have no choice, take a deep breath, count to sixty and voila, another minute has passed and you’re still standing. Good piece of advice here, when you take that deep, cleansing breath don’t forget to reverse it.

Sometimes you just do what you gotta do. I’m reminded of a day when my children were little. Thankfully, I wrote many memories down as they happened, you start to forget things you never thought you could as they get older. As we get older, I suppose I should say. The following is a preserved memory of one of those days . . .

I’d reached the end of my proverbial rope and resorted to good old-fashioned bribery. I had to, there was no other way,this too shall pass wasn’t doing the trick and I succumbed to the mommy bribe. I don’t recommend repeated use of this tactic but when you’re at your wit’s end it’s more of a survival technique than anything else. You’ll survive, the kids will survive. All’s well that ends well right?

I’d awoken early. I don’t mean early like, oh rapturous joy, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, my-oh-my what a wonderful day . . . no. I mean early like, three a.m. early. No sun, no birds, no singing, no nothing. Just a sprawled out child grinding his teeth and emitting other strange noises from various parts if his body.

When my eyes adjusted to the dim light of the room I saw a well-worn sock on my pillow. It certainly wasn’t mine. I reached to remove the foul thing but my arm was trapped beneath a leg that was attached to a sock-less foot. I gently pushed it aside only to find another leg beneath it. I had no idea my son was such a talented contortionist. I considered sending him off to join the circus, it was a fleeting thought.

When I’d untangled myself from his wiry little limbs I was dismayed to find I still couldn’t move. My body was on strike. It pained me greatly to arise. I tried to shoo the little bugger off to his own bed but he is either a really sound sleeper or a really good fake sleeper. Either way, I was unwilling to attempt an airlift and carry him to his own bed.

I pushed him aside with both of my feet and tried to fall asleep again. Ten seconds into it I had to use the ladies room. When I returned, the little bed hog was once again sprawled out across the length and width of my bed with my blankets in a bunch around him.

Generally I look upon my sleeping angels with wonder and warmth. At that moment though, I felt no motherly fuzzies stirring in my heart. I just wanted to go to sleep and if that meant he had to be moved, so be it. I pulled the covers from around, over and under him and pushed him to the far edge of the bed. By the time I was snuggled in and comfy again it was three forty-five a.m.

I wrestled with the ever-moving child until my alarm sounded at six-thirty. The sun was up, but I was not greeted by the melodies of a sweet morning song bird. A nasty old rooster my neighbors keep was cock-a-doodle-doodling like he could actually awake the entire sleeping population of the world. I briefly pondered substituting rooster for turkey at our next Thanksgiving.

My mirror refused to look at me; I guess it didn’t want to hurt my feelings with what I would see. I decided coffee would help considerably. I awaited the brewed concoction of caffeinated joy anxiously. As I poured, I was more than dismayed to see only plain hot water filling my cup. I’d neglected to put coffee in the filter.

I knew I had to wake the kids for school, but I was afraid and so very tired. I gathered my courage and awoke them each as gently as I could, even the offending troll still sleeping peacefully in my bed. Shortly after they’d eaten breakfast they all plopped down in front of the television and began surfing for morning cartoons.

I walked right over there and turned it off! “Excuse me, but do we watch T.V. before school?” They all looked at me like I was some insane maniac just escaped from the loony bin. Before any of them could speak I realized I, in all my wisdom, had just awoken my children at six-thirty in the morning on what was to be the beginning of a three-day weekend.

I turned the television back on and cried as I slowly shuffled back to the safety of my bed. A few minutes went by and I felt movement near my feet. A little body crawled up next to mine and snuggled in. It was the troll. The same one who’d caused such misery just hours earlier had come to comfort me.

Would you believe I actually fell fast asleep? My rejuvenating rest didn’t last long, but it was a welcome relief. The day went quickly by and we where all once again tucked into our beds for the night. Sleep found me and wrapped itself around me in soft, calming comfort.

When I was awakened at three forty-five by an elbow to the neck I decided to count my losses and give up. I simply could’nt win this battle. I was sleep deprived and only semi conscious. I took every blanket off my son and yanked the pillow from beneath his snoring, teeth grinding head and took to the quiet sanctuary of the couch. I’d like to tell you I got the required rest a mother should have, but I cannot.

The clock above me kept ticking away the seconds and shouting out the hours, the refrigerator came to life and the couch began to grow strange lumps beneath me. The next morning I promised my son a dollar for every night he stayed in his own bed. He pondered it and added hot cocoa in the mornings to sweeten the deal.

I agreed. No price is too high for a good nights sleep. I thought I was in the clear but when the other children found out he was getting extras for doing what he should be doing anyway they demanded equal treatment under the Siblings Fairness Act, which states no sibling should be denied what another sibling has regardless of the circumstances.

I don’t know when they came up with the whole Sibling Fairness Act routine, but I got a chuckle out of it. I told them we would live like paupers if I had to shell out four bucks a night so they settled for the hot cocoa and we all slept happily ever after . . . for a few nights anyway.

Crystal R. Cook

 

 

Goodnight Sweet Prince

I used to love taking pictures of my kids while they slept, they looked like little angels . . . I was feeling nostalgic this morning and thought it would be sweet to recreate some of those memories. I ended up feeling like a creepy stalker though. Taking pictures of grown men sleeping, even if you did give birth to them, is just kind of weird.

While deleting the stalker-esque photos, I remembered how precious my babies were, how their soft wisps of hair would tickle my nose as I kissed their little foreheads goodnight. I thought of how my heart filled with their love when they wrapped those little arms around my neck. It still feels that way when they hug me, except now it feels like they are the ones holding me.

Every once in a while, I look at them and see them as they once were, like time stood still. Bittersweet moments. They grew, like they were supposed to, it just happened so darn quickly. I miss tucking them in, story times and lullabies. I miss hearing their innocent little prayers being said. I can still hear them in my heart.

On second thought, I think I’ll keep some of this mornings digital memories . . . I may just print them out and send it to them in an unmarked envelopes. That is what stalkers do, isn’t it?

Crystal R. Cook

Goodnight Sweet Prince

Sleep Little One

There comes a moment in the life of every mother –

There comes a moment . . .

Before I had children I thought I knew a bit about life, I was young but confident. It turned out I knew a little less than I thought I did, lucky for me, I’m a quick study. When I realized I’d been blessed with new life inside of me, everything changed. The things I thought were so important just the day before were all but forgotten as I thought about the magnitude of the journey I was about to embark upon. In that moment, I grew. In that moment, I changed. Over the years I’ve continued to learn, I’ve continued to grow and to change.

There comes a time in the life of every mother, when we suddenly realize we are mothers. You may think I’m merely stating the obvious, but there’s a special moment, a moment of beautiful clarity you cannot describe until you’ve experienced it. That moment when you look at your child and think in amazement, this is my child, I created this person. It’s an amazing moment that weaves itself into the fabric of our lives.

The bonds I’ve formed with my children began with the first lullaby I softly sang as they slumbered in my womb. I took to motherhood naturally and with joy, the lives I’d created were each an extension of my own, the best of all I had to give. I’ve always been in awe of my children, each unique and special in their own ways. They’ve provided me with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment I never dreamed was possible. I cannot begin to imagine what my life would have been like if I’d chosen another path.

For me, this moment of sweet epiphany has occurred more than once. With each little life I’ve brought forth into this world, I’ve been given the gift of this divine revelation. You never know when it will come, you cannot plan for it and it takes you by surprise when you least expect it. When it happens, a feeling of warmth overcomes you, tears form in your eyes, and the meaning of life reveals itself.

I remember gazing at my firstborn son as he lay in slumbers sweet solitude and thinking, this must be what angels look like when they rest. I then realized the tiny angel I was so taken with was mine, a precious gift of God, and I was his mother. It was a monumental event in my life; I knew I would never be the same after that night.

I was as unassuming the second time I found myself experiencing the powerful emotions that accompany this precious moment. I never wondered if I could love another child as I had loved my first, I somehow knew I would and I was right, my second baby, another son, was as delightful and amazing as his big brother. As it did the first time, that moment hit me like a ton of bricks.

He was standing there, one hand gripping his walker for dear life, and the other mischievously reaching for his big brothers hair. The sun was shining brilliantly through the blinds, illuminating him in golden silhouette, soft shadows played alongside him, and there before me stood another angel, this time at play.

I began to cry just as he took hold of the soft hair beneath his fingertips, he giggled and his brother let out a holler. I couldn’t help but join him in the giggle, soon the injured party joined in our laughter. They may not have known why we were so happy, but I did, they were mine and I was the luckiest person on earth.

The years seemed to disappear right before my eyes; they rolled by as quickly as the day itself. I often looked at my sons with the solemn awareness that comes with acceptance and thanks. The Lord had been so good to me, I was blessed beyond measure. I did not know that He, in His infinite wisdom was a long way from finishing the job.

Another life, another miracle. I’d forgotten all about the joys of new motherhood by the time my third son came along. I was euphoric and treasured every moment, for I knew all too well how quickly they would pass. Life was again full of midnight feedings and diaper changes. I looked upon my three boys with thanks in my heart.

I was always on the go; three boys will keep you running from dusk till dawn. I stopped calling them precious angels and switched to the more appropriate term house apes. They were little treasures, each shining with a brilliant light of all their own. I think in the back of my mind somewhere I knew another moment was heading my way. As usual, it caught me off guard.

We’d had a tough day, the kids were ill and I was cranky. I was trying, unsuccessfully, to get the youngest of the trio to nap. I looked at him in exasperation when he began to cry and asked him to please, please just close his eyes; I was at my wit’s end for the day.

I must have been more animated than I’d meant, his tears turned to laughter and he said, “You funny hunny!” Within seconds his little eyes closed and I scooped him up in my arms. I realized this was it, this was the moment. His little hand stroked my hair and we fell asleep together. It was glorious.

Shortly after the birth of my third son, the Lord saw fit to bless me with a little girl. She was five years old the day she came to live with us. She’d always been a part of my life, a piece of my heart. I’d felt her little feet kicking the palm of my hand before her birth, and I was there when she took her first breath. I held her and changed her diapers and rocked her to sleep just as I’d done with my own.

She’d been born to my younger sister, her birth was a blessing, an unexpected blessing. Life sometimes has a way of unraveling the careful plans we’ve tried to weave. Letting her little girl go to let her grow and thrive would be one of the hardest decisions my sister would ever have to make, It was an adjustment for us all in so many ways.

I never would have imagined there would be a moment between this child and I, but there was. I awoke in the early hours of the morning, before the sun began to rise, to the soft kiss of innocence upon my cheek. I feigned sleep as I listened to a little voice whisper “I love you Mommy.”, and then the scurrying of little feet back down the hall.

She had unknowingly transformed into my daughter in that instant, I may not have given her life but she had become mine, a child of the heart, one of my own. That sweet kiss sealed our souls together; I walked into her room and whispered a prayer of thanks. I tucked her back into bed as my tears once again fell.

There comes the time in the life of every mother, when we suddenly realize we are mothers. It happens throughout the lives of our children, during different stages of their lives. Perhaps when they are helpless little babes, or maybe when they are trying little house apes, we’ll be blessed with this miraculous revelation.

It may happen again during a school recital or in the midst of teenage heartbreak. It may take us by surprise once again when we hold our grandchildren tightly in our arms. Whenever it happens, it will be an amazing blessing from the Lord above. It is these moments that will carry us when our children are grown, we will remember we were once mothers, angels that softly walked the earth . . .

Crystal R. Cook

Art by Paul Peel, 1888