Late afternoon is the worst time. I think about two guy friends of ours nearly every afternoon. Both of whom have told me on separate occasions "A glass of wine each afternoon would do you good." It is late afternoons on the long-everybody-is-home-all-day-every-day days that I can't help but wonder if they are right. I feel as though any day now, my children will drive me to drink. (I exaggerate slightly. I do not drink alcohol, and likely never will.)
Last Monday morning, Megan (who incidentally was supposed to be practicing the harp) brought a photo album to me to show me a specific photo of her when she was just shy of 2 years old. As photo albums always seem to do, it sucked me right in to looking at every single picture. One photo grabbed my attention immediately. I haven't been able to keep it out of my mind all week.
By photographic standards it was nothing. In fact it was a quick shot taken back in the days of a roll of 24 film that no matter how good or bad the photo, it ended up in an album. It was of Megan sitting in a little plastic pool on our back patio in July 2000, the summer before she was 2. Mike's feet can be seen on the side of the pool. Immediately I remembered that day. It was a lazy Saturday afternoon, Mike and I were sitting watching Megan play in the pool.
I couldn't stop staring at the photo. In that moment I was filled with a sudden sense of nostalgia and longing for simpler times. I imagined the quiet and peace in which the three of us were enjoying the warm afternoon. As I looked at Megan's smiley toddler face, I seemed to remember the ease of housework, the lack of toothpaste all over sinks, or pee all over toilet floors and seats. And I remembered the days of considerably less laundry that took half the time to finish.
Drew shook me from my memory lane trip with a snatch of the photo album to tell me about a particular toy he could see in the background that he wants now. (Drew seems to have been born with a severe case of entitlement.)
The moment was over. Yet the picture stayed in my mind. It stayed in my mind the following day when I counted the seconds of peace and quiet in-between arguments, questions, or constant chatter between my now five children. (4 seconds was the record).
That photo stayed with me in a melancholy type of way. It didn't help the severe case of orneriness I was already suffering from.
Thursday afternoon, Ellie asked to get out the plastic pool. Of course Joshua and Drew joined in the fun. Within five minutes, Ellie had lost interest and disappeared. It was Drew and Joshua alone. Ironically, I was inside the door reading an old General Conference article about mothers that can be found HERE. The following sentence tugged at my wearied soul,
"May I say to mothers collectively, in the name of the Lord, you are magnificent. You are doing terrifically well. The very fact that you have been given such a responsibility is everlasting evidence of the trust your Father in Heaven has in you."
With that encouragement, I decided to go outside and enjoy the moment with my two boys. I tried my hardest to think of my long-term mothering mantra that I seem to have been forgetting lately, "Enjoy the little things in life. One day you'll look back and realize they were the big things."
As I sat and watched Joshua and Drew play I couldn't help but laugh out loud as I listened to Drew's uncontrollable giggle as Joshua was "sailing the ship." I laughed at Joshua swinging a cowboy rope while saving Drew from falling "in the ocean". I interrupted my revelry to get some home video footage, and some still camera shots.
(Darn that I couldn't get one of both of them looking at the camera at the same time! But I didn't want to interrupt their playing long enough for a decent photo.)
I don't print out very many photos anymore. But I think I'm going to print out this one along with the one of Megan 12 years ago.
They are contrasts in the stage of my mothering from my days of being with only Megan, the first-born, and enjoying Joshua and Drew, the last-two. I don't want to be too worn out and too ornery to appreciate all these little things that Joshua and Drew will soon be past.
No joke: As I type this, Drew came up to me with a bandaid across his nostrils because his "nose hurts lots." I smiled and laughed out loud as I hugged him, believing the only reason I didn't roll my eyes and be irritated at him wasting a bandaid (or 3 or 4 of them as it takes a few tries to position one on the nose) was because of the type of blog post I was writing! I immediately thought of Megan, who of course would never do anything of the sort now. In fact, just last week as I watched her play the organ at the LDS Conference Center at Temple Square (more on that later), I wondered where exactly the last almost 14 years have gone.
Perhaps the days of one child, less laundry, cleaner toilet seats, fewer fingerprints, and less chatter have passed, but I know even with the absolute chaos of today things are still simple. I am determined to live in the moment more. I need to stop thinking about the days when my house will stay cleaner longer or remembering the days when it did.
I am hoping that when the school bell rings on September 4th, it will help. I'm sure then I will return to my usual slightly ornery self instead of this current very ornery self.