By Kay Wyma.
Yesterday I sat behind a pregnant woman who looked like she could have her baby right there in the auditorium. I felt safe to ask her when she’s due. It’s the taboo question – one to be avoided on all occasions – until a woman is weeks away from giving birth. At that point, please ask the question.
Within days of delivering my fourth child, I had an appointment at the eye doctor.
“Might I ask you a question?” the doctor inquired.
“Sure,” I said, expecting something about eye care or needs.
“Would you by any chance be with child?”
Stunned, I almost had no response. Suffice it to say that Labor and Delivery should have been my destination that day. I sat by that man, filling every inch of the chair of the chair facing an eye chart and looked down at the stomach to which he was inquiring.
As if on cue, legs and arms started moving. My belly literally rippled like waves making their way to shore.
“Am I pregnant?” I clarified, thinking someone else needed to have his eyes checked.
“Yes. Are you with child?”
Somewhere along the way, that doctor had missed the memo. There is a point where not only can you inquire. In fact, a woman is offended if you don’t.
So, I safely asked the sweet gal in front of me, “What’s you due date?”
She sighed, “Next week.”
“Wow. Is this your first?”
“No,” she sighed again. “It’s our fourth. Our oldest is six, then we have a four-year-old and a two-year-old.”
“That’s just like our family, though we added an extra,” I respond excitedly. “It’s so much fun. Busy. But fun. Even the midnight feedings are special. It’s so quiet in the middle of the night and no one is on top of you.”
Her husband seemed dubious.
I realize I’m not in the thick of the newborn stuff. Newborn and little kids. All the action, the demands, the stress of wondering if I’m doing it right. As if there is a “right” way to parent. I look at her and am tired for them. Then I wonder how I survived. Then I feel really old. I ask myself if I could ever do it again. Thinking “no,” and realizing that I am doing it again. Just at a different stage.
The baby/toddler stuff is physically exhausting, the tween/teen emotionally exhausting.
My thoughts were flooded with things I would want her to know and well, that I would like me to know, like:
· Don’t sweat the small stuff
· Remember that good times abound in stomach bugs. Like sweet couch time. Lots of hugs. Love overflowing. (How else could we smile at someone who has just covered us in bile?) It never lasts forever. And tomorrow is a new day.
· Park comparison outside or better yet, lock it in a shed. It does nothing but rob us of our joy. Who cares what someone else is doing. Be okay with the choices we’ve made rather than looking around at everyone else’s choices thinking that theirs might be better than ours. Or more “right.” It’s a waste of time and will always leave us lacking. Which we’re not because…
· It works out in the end . There’s a college for everyone. Remember, there’s a college for everyone! Keep saying it. Just like there was a Mother’s Day Out for everyone. Because, in the end, it really didn’t matter. Even though I thought it did. And the “right” soccer team/carpool/school/etc. defined it all.
· People do matter. Celebrate them. Walk along side them. Get over my own insecurities and encourage them.
· Slow down. Enjoy the laughter. Search for the sighs. Have enough margin in the schedule for spontaneity.
I could probably go on. But at this point I would probably need to listen to my teens groaning under their breath, “Mom… puh-leeeze stop talking.”
I’ll stop, but this is from my friend Katy who shared a little something when another friend discovered she was pregnant with her fourth:
A few of my tips for success are:
· Just like on the airplane, put your oxygen mask on first. (i.e., take care of yourself)
· Get some help from the outside. Don’t be afraid to ask for it (See take care of yourself above). It can come from the other kids, grandparents, friends, baby sitters, aunts, nanny, friends.
· Keep your husband laughing and make it fun.
· Take one on one time (however you can make it happen) with your husband, but ALSO with each of the other children.
· Don’t worry about the house, laundry, chores. They will be there later.
· Go outside.
· Count before exploding.
· Enjoy each precious day. They are grown in an instant. Trust me on that one!
She’s right. It all flies by entirely too fast.
Kay Wyma is the author of Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement. She shares the hilarity and the tears that come with raising adolescents & teens on her blog The Moat … because who wants to walk that road alone.