In the early hours of Dec. 31, 2011, I rolled into the Labour and Delivery wing of Kelowna General. And here I sit, a mere few hours later, in the final week of 2012.
Oh, sure, I’ve raised a newborn into a cruiser, graduated a child from preschool, supervised class trips and organized teacher gifts, and generally kept four children from killing each other. But in terms of time to breathe and think, it’s been about two hours. And if we’re talking about how long it’s felt since Henry entered the world, there have been both hours that crawled along like months and months that sped by like hours. Motherhood squeezes one through a sort of rift in the time-space continuum in which ordinary measurements of time are utterly meaningless.
Things that take months: Feeding the baby (solids or nursing, it doesn’t matter; Henry cannot be rushed). Getting the regularity-challenged Thomas to sit on the toilet and drop a deuce before it forces its way out in a cataclysmic and embarrassing volcanic event. Supervising homework. Our three trips to and from school each day, with children alternately fighting to the death and whining for Timbits.
Things that take hours: The time between notification of a play or recital and the time I’m supposed to have assembled an entire costume (usually using various articles of white — WHITE?!! — clothing). The period in between the sitting and crawling stages during which a prudent mother would carve out some time to babyproof everything (apparently, I am not a prudent mother). The amount of time between birth and the emergence of teeth and words. The time that elapsed between James’ last letter sound and first independent book. The window between buying pants with “room to grow” and discovering those pants have turned into capris so tight they threaten to sterilize your son.
Owing to the brain damage that happens each and every time one pops out a baby (I reckon between the four, I’ve lost about 50 IQ points), I have no recollection of life before Henry. I simply know that I rise at 6 a.m. every school day to prepare lunches and snacks in those bleary, eerily-silent 30 minutes before six little feet hit the floor and thunder down the stairway, elbows competing for prime banister real estate as they race to be first to the breakfast table (where they then proceed to take literal years to eat three small bowls of Cheerios because they are too busy telling each other how much more quickly they can eat Cheerios than all the others). And I know that it is 9:30 before I fall into bed after having washed the dishes and readied the backpacks and laundered the uniforms and laid out the lunch kits for the morning rush. If it is a good day — meaning a day I can put Henry into his crib while he is in that elusive drowsy-but-alert state which the experts recommend, and which happens perhaps once in a given week — I can get an hour’s reprieve while both of my littlest boys nap. If it is a bad day, I resolve to have a glass of wine and make myself some dessert afterwards, only to collapse in bed with a reality show once my chores are done, too tired to bother with wine or dessert.
This feels like it’s been going on for a century, and yet, when I look at Henry, I wonder where all the time went. When did my sleepy, kitten-size infant become a smiling, clapping baby? And when did that baby begin crawling, cruising and saying cute little words? How is it that he’s eating pasta with meat sauce and trying to use my phone?
And HOW have I not blogged in almost a year?
It can’t be the amount of kids. Lots of moms have a million kids, homeschool them, run a business, do 3,000 picturesque crafts in a day, and document the whole thing in ridiculously professional and prolific blogs. And it can’t be the baby. I’ve had a baby and blogged before. I wish I could say I’ve been busy cooking and cleaning, but I’m pretty sure lighting would strike me dead on the spot if I claimed any such thing. Once dishes and laundry are taken care of, who has the energy for floors? (Homeschooling professional-photographer bloggers with nine children, three of them in diapers, that’s who!)
Anyway, in between feeding and clothing and bum-wiping and chauffeuring all the kids, here are all the things I haven’t managed to properly chronicle: Maddux went to science camp (where she made friends and influenced people); the kids all took up regular swim and karate lessons (James takes them the most seriously); Thomas has NOT been kicked of preschool (yet); Henry has learned to do all one might expect of a nearly-1 baby and is the happiest little guy you’ll ever meet (until he’s not). Maddux — at long last — is in the same class as her “BFF” from kindergarten onward. They have been wisely placed on opposite sides of the classroom. James is now a reader. He has received a love letter and was very nonchalant about the whole thing. (He also punched his best friend at school in the chest for tapping him on the shoulder in the recess line, so it’s not always roses!) Thomas can do basic addition and subtraction, but still refuses to walk down the stairs by himself about 40 percent of the time. Henry is a big fan of high-fives, snuggles and every girl over the age of 5 he has ever met. He says “Mama,” “Dada,” “Up,” “No,” “Good” and a couple other almost-words. He cruises, but if you try to walk him across the floor, he gingerly lowers himself until he’s in crawling mode. His hobbies and interests include peek-a-boo, books, animals and using the power of the mind to will you to look at him, in which event he will smile at you until you return his smile.
As I write this, Henry’s finishing up an afternoon nap — one of those rare ones that happens in a crib rather than my arms. Perhaps as he starts sleeping more on his own, I’ll write more. Or perhaps I’ll step back into the time machine and see you a few hours from now, in January 2014.