Right now we're in this stage of toddler-toddler-baby. As are most of my mom friends. All the toddlers. All the babies. Babies laying on a blanket in the grass while the toddlers run around and play. Or fight. Or ask again for a snack and a push on the swing. So we leave our blanketed baby sanctuary to address those needs before returning for some more baby cuddles and giggles, rocking and talking and nursing. Until the call from the toddler crowd comes again. We're constantly rotating, one attending to this need, another tending to that, so even when we're all in the same place, we're rarely all together.
We're SO needed.
Playdates, these days. And that's only the ones I could fit in this picture...
It's so strange to think of being a mom of older kids. ones who can be pretty much be depended on to do things on their own and play by themselves. Kids who aren't even here for most of the day because they're off at school and activities. Not needing help with every little snack, shoes-on-shoes-off, clothing change, pulling up that darn underwear after going potty routine while also rocking the baby. Chaotic playdates where we frequently spend more time chasing after our own kids than in adult conversation. Snacks, naps, nursing, tantrums, snuggles, playtime and swaddling. This is all I know. All we know. As little girls (and boys) we played house and pretended to take care of babies. Ain't nobody who wants to pretend to be the mom of a teenager.
I hear that it happens. That one day we'll turn around and realize that they all know how to play by themselves. Not only will they not need to be fed/watched/entertained 24/7 but apparently it will actually be possible to relax and do some yard work, wipe down the counters, fold that entire load of laundry, or drink that entire cup of coffee and even get into a book without being interrupted within the next 60 seconds. Right now it feels like this is a myth. That they will always be little. You guys out there with older kids must be lying to us. There's no way these kids grow up. That doesn't happen. Didn't you just always have an 8-year old? He came out that way, right?
Right now, if there's suddenly a time that we're not needed - all the kids are napping, they're with the grandparents, whatever - we literally don't know what to do with ourselves. I hear some version of "the kids are gone/in bed asleep/with a babysitter and I'm so excited but I don't know what to do with myself!" from my friends at least once a week. There's so many things we feel that we should do, or just plain old want to do. So many things we want to try to fit into the quiet. Is this productive time? Do we wipe down the counters and scrub toilets? Do we blow it all off and read a book? (Answer: yes.) Sort through the 384 photos on our phone of the kids that we took that day alone? (It's not just me, right?) Maybe even have time to post one of the non-blurry ones up to Facebook or Instagram without being interrupted? (I get about halfway through a post approximately 90% of the time before dealing with some sort of emergency and have to stop mid-type. By some miracle, I haven't had one post on accident while half-done. Yet. You'll know when this happens. Keep your eyes open. It's only a matter of time.)
Of course this time doesn't last. The kids wake up, the babysitter leaves, the chaos returns. And we're right back in to juggling not one but two poopy diapers and a child that wants a snack "Nowwwwaaa, Mommy! Righ' nowwaa!" And then the doorbell rings and the baby decides this is a good time to also spit up all over you (this may or may not have happened just yesterday).
We sigh, but we're kind of used to it. We know how to do this. And we're still a little skeptical that these little ones - our little ones - will actually grow up. We'll learn about homework and activities and Minecraft and Justice and chapter books and (God forbid) dating and high school and the rest of that big-kid stuff later. We'll do what we know how to do best right now.
I'm in no rush. We've got plenty of time.