The lackluster attitude with which they picked about an equally lackluster made meal began the spiral of guilt laden pity. Dinner’s contents contained bland and boring ingredients for two reasons. First, the stomach flu is looming and has struck the smallest among us. As my husband grossly reminded, “bland ingredients make for easier puking.” She also has Hand, Foot and Mouth, which makes for an extra disgusting weekend burdened by soiled couches, a lot of screaming, and the amount of drooling that occurs when a baby refuses to close her mouth due to it being filled with sores. To complain further, the second reason is my laziness abounds in the last trimester of pregnancy. And every pound makes me crankier. And there seem to be a lot of those.
Its not like I haven’t made terrible dinners made of mostly burnt food, or skipped the task entirely hundreds of times. It is not that I won’t do it again, guilt free and take-out happy. Yet, tonight, I projected my own, already looming, guilt onto their reactions and absorbed it fully as if it was their intent all along. As if a picky three year old who would likely fake eat and hide a chef’s most delicious creation in the bottom of her backpack in the hopes of still getting ice cream should indicate whether or not my dinner is ok. But, my to- do list is piled high and my energy level lower than ever. A summer, already half over, is seemingly slipping from my reach and am I making it fun enough? “They have only done one camp!” I remembered. I believe that’s actually how to spell BAD MOM…
“Eat your chicken!!!!” I demanded.
Psshhh. Like that works.
Post picked-at dinner, I scrubbed, and washed, and demanded help from kids who can’t tie shoes, and frustration has never left the counters cleaner. I dictated more ridiculous chores and I began scouring the internet for camps, and sports, and the keys to their future. My husband, who is aware of nesting and its’ power to craze, began relay races in the backyard, one-year old toddling included, keeping them as far away from their angry typing mom as possible. As they raced back and forth- curls bouncing, bare-feet cycling, giggles echoing- I missed it all. I did, however, plan out every Saturday from now until this new baby is 6 months old full of ‘ fun activities.’ Crazy nester then began organizing the baby clothes pre-washing schedule, and mentally deciding whether its better to introduce my soon to be two year old to classic ballet, creative movement, competitive gymnastics, or ice hockey because all two year old should obviously be specialized in something other than diapers.
The thoughts continued: Have I missed the opportunity for the oldest to be good at anything by not exposing him to enough summer camps? Will he read on time? Have my small genes ruined him for life? Did I really get the puke out of the couch? Maybe I should buy a new couch. That couch is ugly, anyway. Maybe more cleaning help will make this better. If only I got more sleep. But, I’m so damn itchy! Pregnancy is for the birds. But I love this baby. What will I wear next the second Tuesday of next month? What will the children do when I go into labor? I should start making freezer meals. Freezer meals are gross, a live in chef is the only way. I wonder how I can trick them into more kale. What will I name this baby? Will I go bat crazy by the time I give birth? (yes.) LABOR!!! I CAN’T DO IT AGAIN.
The skipping entrance of Josie, smiling and singing a made up song that included the word “Alleluia,” released me just before I remembered what 10cm feels like and started crying. In her hands are crab apples from a tree in our yard, and as she searches for a container I almost tell her to stop. Why? BECAUSE I’M BEING A GIANT CRAZY SOUR CRAB APPLE.
Maybe God couldn’t resist showing me my silliness through the fruits of my yard’s apple tree, because Eve and all. Or maybe, Josie’s freedom did exactly what it is supposed to, what it usually does, which is to snap me back to remembering joy and forgetting my anxiety. Maybe, I needed to go a little crazy before I realized it’s all ok- fourth baby and all, non-specialized activities and all, boxes of unorganized baby clothes and all, no plans or perfectly scheduled summer and all, so many pounds in my butt and all.
The kids might notice my fatigue, my tiredness, my more- boring-than- normal self. I’m not sure how to reconcile that quite yet, but I would like to avoid the rocky ground on which those thoughts lead as much as I possibly can with as much faith as I can muster. Because tonight I was full of worldly anxiety and came dangerously close to missing the opportunity to incorrectly teach James what a shortstop is in baseball. My pride had to dodge a few “it looks funny when you run with dat baby in your belly, Mama,” comments. Even so, my waddling the chalk-drawn bases certainly made more of a happy impact than my furious internet searches ever could.
There are 11 very hot weeks to go, at most, in this pregnancy. While I’m sure I will complain (I’m positive, actually) and freak out 5 billion times more, I hope and pray to enjoy the kicks and the rolls, and even the fatigue, because there are lessons and missions to learn and fulfill. And three very happy, mostly misbehaving, wonderful children to soak in this summer.
Here’s to hot summer pregnancies! May we sweat less and sleep more.