on having babies

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As we lingered in bed a little longer this morning, my mind drifted off into what it would be like for us to have another baby.  Four of our five kids were born in the winter, and each winter baby was born in an odd year. I wondered then on what I’d do different.  I would yell less, take care of myself more, and not expect so much from a three-year-old. Those last two things, I imagine, would be certain to significantly help with the first one.

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It was sad at the time (and that is simplifying things), like any time a baby weaned (and weaning the last one was the hardest). Though it wasn’t something I ever rejoiced in or ever looked forward to, I felt a relief when we stopped having babies.  I haven’t yet experienced the talked of baby fever.  I say “yet”, not because I’m anticipating any of this happening, but because I’m not willing to write off the possibility that I might, at some point, experience the things I’ve heard other women speak about.  In a way, when it comes to my two youngest boys, it feels like I’ve had a kind of redo at motherhood.

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I have wondered before if my two boys being little has kept those baby fever feelings at bay.  As they continue to grow and transform into the stage of not-quite-as-little-boys, I find myself going back to those classic bedtime board books I read with my older kids. The little boys each got a new book in their stocking.  One was Guess How Much I Love You and the other one was Corderoy.  We’ve already formed what feels like a new–and yet old–routine, and each night we alternate between the two books, still tired by then.

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Each cats feels to me like the size and weight of a newborn.  I’ll look down at one walking past me in the kitchen, and recently, I feel the need to pick them up and hold them close to my chest.  The mother’s instinct in me wants to keep creatures warm, particularly on days when earth is snow-covered.  The kids have already been out once today, and I told them in a little bit we could go back out again and check on the lake.  For a moment I imagined sledding down the hill with a newborn swaddled to my chest beneath my coat.

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Older kids are pretty special.  We switched up our chore routine to simplify it slightly. There’s so much trial and error with house chores.  Something works for a while, and then it doesn’t anymore.  As abilities grow, and family needs change, I appreciate the ongoing flexibility to change things.  The oldest three kids–ages 14, almost 12, and 10–now alternate weekly between these three major chores:  kitchen work, both bathrooms, and cat food/litter box.  The little boys have areas they’re responsible for as well, such as tidying the family mudroom, but their first assigned priority is keeping their room clean.

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