Sometimes I feel like mothering is really not about the raising of them at all. I think it’s mostly about the humbling of me.
I remember this moment, just a week or so after Luke, my oldest, was born. I had been trying to squeeze in a shower amidst the soothing of a baby who was only happy if held. He was crying, I was overwhelmed, wet and trying to just wrap a towel on my head so that I could bounce him while I finished the rest of the post shower routine. It was at this moment that I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
I looked an awful lot like…. me.
For a split second I was actually surprised. Without knowing it, I had kind of thought I would be so very different after giving birth that I would physically LOOK different. I guess I sort of thought I would look like a person who knew what she was doing. I would look like a MOTHER. But I was still me.
That is when I knew that I was in for a ride.
The latest chapter in the “Education of Stefani” is entitled “Family Harmony, Catch It If You Can”
My boys have always been buddies. The oldest two are only 14 months apart, so they don’t even remember a time without each other. They are tight. They do everything together. They come home from parties having coerced an extra goody bag for their brother. They come in the kitchen asking for a snack, “and one for brother too?” Once, we thought we’d help them each to feel special by taking them on “dates” with Mama or Daddy, alone. The idea was that it can sometimes be hard to feel unique with a gaggle of brothers, and this would be a way to celebrate just one boy at a time.
It didn’t work. They spent the entire time crying for their brothers and asking if we could take food and treats back to the poor, neglected, lonely, mistreated brother we’d left at home.
So, I can tell you that it is heartbreaking to watch what has been going on here lately. If our attitudes had odors, you couldn’t find a clean breath of air for miles. They are bickering. CONSTANTLY. About EVERYTHING. It goes like this:
James: “It’s kind of chilly this morning”
Luke: “No it’s not”
James: “Well I feel like it is”
Luke: “Well you feel wrong.”
James: “You don’t know how I feel.”
Luke: “Yes I do”
James: “No you don’t”
Luke: “YES, I DO!”
James: “NO YOU DON’T”
Mama: “Oh for goodness sakes! Do you even remember what you are arguing about?”
Blank looks all around.
And the thing is. I don’t know what to do. Aren’t mothers supposed to know what to do?
I have spent a good long time thinking about it, and I’ve come up with these ideas (since we know that dates don’t do the trick)
1) Leave them on the side of the road somewhere. (kidding, only kidding)
2) Lock them in the closet (no no, still kidding)
3) Drink heavily (kidding about the “heavily” part, mostly)
3) Find other ways to make them feel individually special (is that vague enough for you?)
4) Help them find ways to see the unique value in their brothers (how ’bout that?)
5) Help them to learn that there are some things you just keep quiet about. (i.e. You don’t have to persuade the world that you are RIGHT all the time.)
So, now, I’m on a journey to see exactly what those things mean, in practice.
Last night, it meant beginning to make them each individual placemats. It’s an effort to give them their own, special, Mama thought of me and made this, it isn’t like anyone else’s, little space to do their eating.
And in case you are thinking that I’m so incredibly thoughtful, remember please that I was also itching to use my new Superbuzzy fabric and scraps from Rosy Little Things, and well, this project fit quite nicely. 🙂 The one pictured below is for James, my “J Bird.”
Now, if you were eating on that placemat, what in the world could you have to argue about?
I’m sure we’ll find something.