Somewhere--in a blog comment, I think--I read this thought on stay-at-home-momhood: The years are short, but the days are long. Exactly. The day seems comprised of endless loops of mundane tasks: empty the dishwasher, fill the dishwasher. Prepare breakfast/snack/
lunch/dinner, feed the kids, then clean it all up. The kids are held, played with, cajoled, bribed, bounced, and held some more.
At times I feel at my wit's end: irritated, stifled, my brain turning into tofu. I feel ready to implode from bored exhaustion, and the claustrophobia of this unending winter. And then the Bean-girl finds a long-forgotten book of nursery rhymes that I had bought for her when she was still a baby. She finds the book and brings it to me. I read, and we find ourselves both enchanted by the rhythms of Mother Goose, and the charming illustrations of Rosemary Wells. I had thought she wouldn't comprehend or like this book--who can make sense of the archaic rhymes? What the hell is a tuppenny loaf, and what kid knows what a sixpence is? But understanding doesn't matter; she's enchanted by the rhythms and rhymes themselves.
The baby crawls across the floor into my lap, and says clearly "mama."
These moments are like unexpected shafts of sunlight, punctuating the doldrum of the days.
Mommy! the Bean-girl cried out the other morning. Stop the baby from eating play-doh and getting sick! Take her away!
The irrepressible Baby Legume was crawling across the floor straight to the corner where Bean-girl sat with her containers of play-doh, multi-colored neon clumps spread out across the newspaper.
I took the baby away and placed her in the middle of the living room. Sure enough, she immediately started crawling back toward Bean-girl and the enticing play-doh.
Distraction doesn't work so well these days. Baby Legume is getting smarter, which means a longer memory and attention span. Which means she remembers the toy/food/thing she wanted, and she wants that, and is not distracted by the rattle you are waving in her face, no thank you. Please please please let me eat play-doh!
I think the poor Baby Legume now spends most of her days in a state of frustration. So much that she wants is not allowed! She can’t eat the play-doh, and she can’t eat the peanut butter and jelly sandwich that her sister is having for a snack. And she can’t tear and eat pages from sister’s library books. A shared story time with the Bean-girl is sheer torment for Baby Legume. Legume tries desperately to grab and tear the pages of her sister’s book, screaming as her attempts are thwarted. (Or not thwarted, as the case may be).
Where did she come from, this fierce, determined, determined child? Physical barriers are nothing to her. She climbs over the boppy pillow, squeezes around a corner under the table, plows right on and over the musical farmhouse toy as though it isn’t even there. This is my Terminator Baby, unstoppable.
She is nine months old now, as I write this. Where did the time go? Just this week she started babbling up a storm, to my great relief. She’d been so silent before, in such contrast to her older sister (who was babbling full force at 6 months). But now Legume has revealed herself to be a master of consonants. Ma ma ma. Da da da. Ka ka ka. I don’t think she can yet know the meaning of "mama" or "dada", but it’s still so sweet to hear her say those words.
The days are long but the years are short. They are growing and changing so much, my girls. Yesterday the afternoon seemed to stretch out interminably, forever. But the last nine months? A handful of seconds. A beat of the heart.