I am certain the hardest part of having two little babes is having two little babes. Children before the age of being able to make their own breakfast are time-consuming and require one on one attention. When you have two under the age of three, that one on one attention becomes a rarity that might happen if one babe takes a particularly long nap, or if husband decides to take one babe on a date. Usually, my attention is split among Pursy, laundry, dinner prep, bed making, Target runs, Knox, coffee making, diaper washing, blog writing, oatmeal making, and maybe a swipe of eye shadow if the planets align.
Taking care of Knox is not particularly difficult. Usually if I have him in my line of vision, I don't worry too much. He is curious and active but still slow enough that I can get to him before he pulls the tablecloth off the table, or before he tumbles backwards down a flight of stairs. He eats what I make him, wears what I put on him, plays with what I give him, and complains only when his diaper needs changed or he wants me to hold him. He sleeps thought the night now, and nurses in the morning and evening.
Purslane on the other hand is a gorgeous, intelligent, precocious little ball of sin. Even when I am looking right at her, she jumps on, touches, says and messes with things she has been forbidden to. By the end of the day, I am so weary of correcting and instructing her that I find myself saying things like "Pursy, if you pull the records off the shelf one more time, I will leave you on a street corner". To which she replied yesterday, "Which one, Mama?" Empty threat fail.
It goes without saying that I love my children. Being home with them is life-giving and a blessing not every Mama has the luxury of taking. I love that I get to read them all the good books first and spend hours playing dominos. I love that I am the one teaching them life lessons and modeling preferable behavior- along with seeking to make things right when I have reacted in anger or frustration. But that is alright- I don't beat myself up about that because apologizing is a crucial life skill as well. Mama is certainly not perfect.
But one thing that I have found more challenging than having two babes in this season of life is making friends and maintaining relationships from our previous cities and pre-child life. I have friends from Colorado and Louisiana that I could talk to every day if we had the time, and not grow weary of hearing about their lives. Friends from nursing school and DC that are in the same season of life that I am- Mom, part-time nurse, wife, etc- that I know could teach me so much about how to juggle everything with grace and determination. Friends from our time in State College that I don't talk to for months at a time, and a year ago couldn't have imagined going 2 days without talking about something (anything!) on the phone. I see things on FB or Christmas cards that make me realize that some of my best friends don't know me anymore- because we don't have 3 hours on a Tuesday afternoon to sit and chat over coffee and a fruit tart (I miss you Elle!).
I have beautiful friends in so many places, and I became weary of beginning every phone call or email with "It has been so long!" that I stopped apologizing and just tried to put myself completely into every conversation- even if it was only 5 minutes while they were driving somewhere or I was nursing Knox to sleep. It's hard though. Pictures of parties, kids I haven't even laid eyes on, birthdays- life passing while these friendships fade a little in the background. It isn't anyone's fault, really. I am in the demographic where we are either growing professionally, making and raising babes, going back to graduate school, or moving and settling in new places. Very few friendships survive the test of the 20 and 30-something years. We just don't need the parade of friends around us like we did in college.
But the ones that survive are gold- like the poem "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other, gold". You know those friendships by the comfortable ease in which conversations begin after months, or even years of not talking regularly about daily life. These friendships for me that happened pre-Pursy and Knox are the ones that already know my story and so we can get right to the big stuff. They already know the background and have stuck around long enough that I don't worry about them discovering anything about me that would make them give up. These friendships are rich and complex and precious.
The new friends are silver- bright, shiny things that make me stop and turn around to look again. Conversations, even the staccato ones that happen in between helping a child with a bite of pancake or changing a dirty diaper, are new and exciting and there is always the unspoken question of whether or not you will want to hang out with me again. These friendships are like first dates- I put all my best qualities on display and hope for the best.
But then if that first date becomes a regular play date, or a girls night out with beer, or a family dinner date- then that façade of having it all together falls away and what is left is the real me. Sometimes a hot mess who swears too much, sometimes cheese sticks and frozen waffles for dinner, and sometimes well-rested and confident- with a vintage necklace and interesting opinions about feminism in the 21st century (why is the height of progressive liberation going to strip clubs??) I don't really care about organic food or child development theories. I approach life with an open hand and sometimes that is a blessing for my family and other times it just means we are late to church.
It won't be long before this season of having two small babes is past and I won't need to cram my life story into a 15 minute walk around the park. But the friendships I am making now don't seem to mind... and the babes are happy, so let's take another turn around the park and hear about you. If you drink beer and don't criticize your husband, I will probably love you.