I’ve been asked a lot since Samuel was born how it feels to be a mama of five. And… I don’t necessarily “feel” that much different than I did prior to November 28. The van is fuller. Hey look, tiny clothes in the laundry basket! I perpetually smell like baby puke (it was nice to have a brief vacation from that). The changes going on in my head and heart are the kind which, I think, would be unfolding whether I’d brought forth a baby or not. They’re the careful steps further into the forest of Grown-Upness, where shadows and new faces and rain showers followed by peeks of rainbow whittle away at one’s character. I am always changing, forever learning. What joy is mine that I get to do so in the company of these small vessels of innocence and sweet joy, at the side of my very best friend.
For those of you who don’t want to listen to Lenae wax sentimental, here’s the skinny of it: Taking care of a baby feels like second nature at this point. How could it not, Samuel being the fifth baby in less than 8 years? Lob me a diaper. Pass me a onesie. I think I’m just going to sit back and smell this kid (when he hasn’t doused himself in his spit-up) for awhile.
That’s not to say I don’t get thrown for a loop sometimes. Of course –OF COURSE– today after I commented to my mother-in-law about what an easy baby he is (“He hardly ever fusses!”), he decided that tonight was one to wrastle the Tired. He wailed into my chest, waved his little arms, ferociously kicked his wee legs, and refused mama-milk and pacifier alike. I paced with the boy and listened through a few Spotify playlists until he finally deemed the Tired sufficiently wrastled… and dropped off to sleep.
Even if the Epic Battle Between Samuel And Tired had continued for longer, the sight of those relaxed, puffy cheeks and curled baby-fists were compensation enough for my role in it all. My neck ached from laying awkwardly beside him and as I stretched –slowly, noooooooiselessly– I thought to myself that, yes: Here, now, on Baby #5, I can say with confidence that I? I know everything. And I know nothing.
Fresh diapers and onesies don’t solve complex emotional issues. They don’t produce answers for me when I’m laying awake at night trying to figure out how I should be dealing with a particular child’s difficult behavior. They don’t erase the mistakes Ben and I inevitably make as parents… shoot, as human beings. The mistakes are unavoidable and can’t be wiped away with a cloth, but they can be covered in a salve of grace. I can pace and listen with them forever, and here? Now? I commit to myself to always be willing to, even when I’m tired.
How does Five feel? Yes, it’s joy, friends, the real-life joy that breaks you and shows you the face of the Father all at once.