I took Connell to story time at the library yesterday. He loves other babies and he actually listens to the stories (for now), so I feel like it's an important social adventure for him every month. However, it's not particularly easy for me to relate to the other mothers. They're all first timers.
That's not a bad thing. In fact, in a lot of ways I envy their enthusiasm for keeping track of how many days old their baby is or which brand of pajamas has the most durable feeties. I admire their vigilance in reading every recall as it's published and knowing which organic baby food has the smallest carbon footprint. 16 years ago, I was that mother. And now... I'm not.
Now I'm the mom who lives in two worlds. I juggle college tours with fourth grade math tutors and a budding eighth grade culinary artist. I coordinate basketball camp with theater camp and make sure summer reading is being done both out loud and independently. I monitor internet usage and media consumption; indoor time vs. outdoor time; cookie consumption vs. fruit intake. I say things like, "HEY. Who didn't shower today? I will sniff each of you until I figure it out!" (And then I hope it's not me...)
In the middle of all of that, I build block towers, whip up baby-friendly smoothies, and change a stinky little bum. I try to make a point of having Connell-time and giving him opportunities to take part in age appropriate social activities.
I look at all the first timers and I envy their innocence. They're still under the impression they're getting it right 100% of the time. I feel like the outsider looking in a little bit. I want to tell them in 5 years, feeties won't matter. In 10 years, you'll be lucky if you can get your darling child to stop talking back to you, so please relish the beauty of baby babble. In 15 years, you're going to suddenly be facing the reality that these children are going to leave you, regardless of how many organic veggies you've cleverly hidden in their teething biscuits. So enjoy these days, new mommas. Enjoy the drudgery of diapers and the sleepless nights.
I feel old and worn and cynical.
I don't say those things, though. I sit back and feel like Connell is suffering because of my divided attention. Maybe a big family is a disservice to all of them. Maybe I'm letting them down because I clearly can't do it all. And then he toddles over to me, wraps sticky hands into my curls, and with a wrinkly nosed smile, he whispers "Mama!" so only I can hear him. I am his universe.
Maybe I'm doing okay after all.