Monday, August 3, 2009

So Many Other Things To Do...

...and yet, here I am, blogging like I have all the time in the world. Oh well. All the babies are sleeping so I am devoid of a snuggle partner and frankly, I just don't want to tackle the kitchen floor right now and taking a shower is pointless until AFTER Jack and I have played in the pool.

Anyway, I changed the name of my blog, as you can see. I hear so many people tell me my house is a "zoo" and that I am the keeper. At first, I was a little miffed at the implications, but then I realized that it's a little bit true. And now I realize it's entirely true. Of course, I say this with nothing but love an affection for my "animals".

I think it took me awhile to fully transition from 1 child to 3. I think I fought against it a little bit; I might have been more reluctant than I thought to step a little further away from my "old" self - the high-heel-wearing, fashionable, Starbucks-cup-carrying, Prius-driving, social-event-attending, husband-doting, flirty, up-and-coming young professional (though professional "what" was still to be determined...). Not that I even spent much time being THAT person before I was planning our family of 3 and waiting for my son to arrive, but I enjoyed THAT. I felt like I was getting a little closer to getting back to a place close to that when I got pregnant with the girls. I've always been thrilled to welcome them into our family. From the moment I saw Addison's little face, I knew how blessed I was to have completely shut the door on "old" Melissa. But when they first came home with me, I don't think I realized how far away from not just Starbucks-cup Melissa I was, but from husband-doting Melissa. Even Jack's-Mommy Melissa. Now I'm Mom-of-Three Melissa. I don't have enough arms to carry all the kids, let alone a Starbucks cup.

So now I wear babies in slings instead of the latest trendy shirt from Express. I wear mismatched flip-flops because Jack picked them out for me instead of heels. I attend play dates, not happy hour. I drive a minivan (albeit, a bitchin mini, but still a minivan) instead of my Prius. I am no longer concerned with anything even remotely resembling a profession. Sure, I'd like to make some money to help our family one of these days, but I'm utterly indifferent to the idea of a career. With one child, I still had the Prius, my cup, my heels, etc. I could walk through a grocery store and people would say, "Wow I really like your shoes! What a cute kiddo!" I could HAVE a hair style and actually style my bangs before I left to go someplace. Now, I have a ponytail of varying heights with two headbands that I swap out depending on the pair of sunglasses I'm wearing. I go someplace and I hear, "Oh my gosh, are all those kids YOURS?"

Yes, yes they are. All 3 of them.

And it's not like 3 is a ton! But they're young. I'm young. I look younger without makeup and you bet your ass I rarely wear makeup.

When people passed me and apologetically said, "Oh honey, you have your hands so full!" or asked why I would go through the hassle of taking 3 kids out in public by myself, I used to only be able to muster a weak smile and say, "Yeah... it's tough."

But that didn't last very long. It only took a few weeks before I'd just grin back at the person and declare, "Yep, my arms are full alright, but I wouldn't have it any other way!" and explain that I take 3 kids out in public with me because, well, I need to buy groceries and I don't want to leave any of them behind for any amount of time. I want them near me always. Why? Because I'd like to keep both my feet on my body, my ears... need them to stick around... I'm quite fond of having my nose intact and my fingernails. Likewise, my kids are just as much a part of me if not more-so, and I am not whole without them.

Going from one child to three has meant a LOT more sacrifices - giving up my sleep, time with Justin, dignity (in some cases) and a little more of that "old" Melissa. It wasn't easy, but I'm so there now. And what I've realized is that "old" Melissa was a temporary condition; "this" Melissa has always been who I am, I just needed to add the kids, stir, bake for a few weeks and here I am. I'm happy and content. The chaos that is my house more often than not... well, it makes me smile. Granted, I'm not always smiling when I've put the kids to bed (and, yes, in case you were wondering, for the purposes of this post, Justin is included in the "kids" category) and am cleaning the kitchen or sweeping up the rice that Jack has managed to spread across the entire first floor, but I wake up excited for the day ahead of me.

I really, honestly, truly, have embraced this new normal for us. Despite the challenges, or maybe because of them, I am secure and content in who I am. I feel blessed and proud that my kids are a part of my life are my life. Being a wife and mom isn't a part of who I am - it is who I am. The Starbucks cups and heels were a part of me, and a disposable part at that. I have the rest of my life to wear trendy shirts, but for how long will my kids be little enough to wear around in a sling? I've chosen to - and yes, there are times when I actively have to choose - to stop worrying about how little sleep I get or how stubbly my legs are and just go with it.

I think I've blogged about this topic before... or at least something similar when I wrote about how I was going to quit wishing for my kids to be older and stop looking forward to the next step and focus on enjoying the present. It's something I've struggled with since Jack was still a wee little fetus, and I'm sure other moms have dealt with as well. This whole "love my mom-self" post is a little like that... I don't think I meant for it to get this long-winded and I'm sure not many of you care much about my inner struggles... but it makes me feel a little better to put this out there. It's like I'm revealing a big secret or something; saying, "Guess what? It's not always perfect, but that's okay and I'm okay."

Not that there was ever a time when I was unhappy or when I didn't want what we have or when I resented the kids. It's just that there have been a few times when I simply forgot to be happy because I was so busy answering cries and changing diapers and picking up Thomas trains. Now I make being happy my priority and if I kick Thomas under the couch because I'm dancing around the living room like a goof, well, Thomas can stay there for awhile and I don't really care. I guess I've come to the conclusion that happiness and kids comes from living in the moment - in every moment - because there end up being so few of them in the long run.

So that's what's been on my mind for the last couple of days.

I mean, really - how can you not love being able to do this in the middle of cooking dinner?

So my house is a zoo... Who cares? I wouldn't want it any other way.


Tanya said...

Love this post! Ahhhhh...the always fluctuating identities of woman and often the merging of those identities and trying to figure out who you are. I totally hear ya. The kids are lucky to have a mama like you and the girls have an awesome woman as a role model!!!

Michelle said...

This was perfect, and you had me crying by the end! You say it so perfectly!

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