As I corralled the kids through the early morning rush yesterday with Noah on my hip, Daniel was watching me from the bathroom with a toothbrush hanging out of his mouth and an inquisitive look on his face. "Mommy, how long are you going to carry Noah around like that?" he asked. "He's like half your size, you know."
My first thought was, "That's ridiculous! He's just a baby!" but then I realized Daniel did have a point. I mean, Noah is almost two and half and I trot him around my house in footie jammies with his paci and blankie like he's 10 months old. No shame. I hadn't even considered it. He's my baby because he's the youngest. Size be darned. And I pointed that out to Daniel. "Well, sweetie, Noah is like my LAST BABY. So, you know, maybe. . .for-eeeeee-veeeeeeer?"
Daniel laughed because he totally gets me. "Um, OK, Mommy," he said. "But you might want Daddy to take over. You are looking kind of ridiculous and people might think you are a crazy mommy."
"I will consider that, Daniel. Thanks for the feedback."
We laughed and crazy mommy scurried down the stairs with "baby" on hip to finish up the trio of lunches.
After the boys got on the bus, I was still running over all this in my head. I had to see for myself, so I went to the full length mirror with Noah on my hip to scope the situation out. I laughed out loud and Noah couldn't help but giggle, too. Daniel was so right. Noah is huge. His legs are so long they could wrap around me and his head is about the same size as mine. We do look like quite a pair with our brown eyes and blonde hair and goofy grins. But after having a baby on my hip (or two) for eight years straight, I'm just not quite ready to let go of this phase of my life. For one thing, I don't have a lot of time to sculpt my guns, so Noah really helps with that. And most importantly, I know there is a day I will put Noah down and never pick him back up and plop him on my hip to cook dinner or run into the store again. I'll never even notice it. . .the hip carry will just melt into history until one day I will be bouncing and rocking in the pew in church with no one in the crook of my arm playing with my hair. Hopefully I'll stop myself before people think I'm too crazy, but I am sure when I do I'll have a touch of longing for my hip mom days.
I also couldn't help but reflect on how my perspective has changed. When Phil was 13 months old I was hoping, praying, encouraging, prodding, anything to get him to walk! I had a newborn and a not-yet-toddler and I was dying for one of them to be able to help me with the trek from our bungalow to the car parked down the stairs on the street below. Or get into the high chair by himself. Anything. NEED A LITTLE HELP HERE! And not just as a toddler, poor Phil being my oldest has received a lot of pressure from me over his eight short years on earth to do all kinds of things on his own and have adult level reasoning skills. Before he was three he was a big brother twice. Since he is RELATIVELY larger than his baby brothers, sometimes I can forget how little he truly is. Something about being in a house with just your tiny people can make it very possible to lose that perspective of their size in the grand scheme of things. I'm guilty of losing perspective of my own size in the grand scheme, too! One look up at the sky usually cures that. And for my kids, usually it takes hearing their small voice on the phone or looking at them from a distance at the playground to gain that sense of small. Every single one of these guys can still count their age in mere double digit months. I've been alive for over 400! It's hard to put too much on them when I think about it that way. I have found myself growing more tender as I have transitioned from the desperate years of early toddler parenting, and especially so since the birth of Noah. I've learned that small kids means I need a smaller agenda, and I need to trim down the number of things I say I can do and the number of places I say I can be. I have also learned that I can't project too much worry about their future on their tiny behaviors. He won't need me to push him on the swing forever. It's just small stuff, all those things. . .the potty training and wiping your own tush and pacifiers cutting your own food and not spilling the milk at every meal.
So, yesterday I asked the big kids if I could go outside and push them on the swings. They didn't need it, but boy did they love it. I've also found myself giving more piggy back rides even though they could practically give me one. Reading more picture books, even though they can read themselves. Listening to the sweet, small sound of their little boy voices and soaking it in, even though I have no idea what minecraft-y thing or whatever they are talking about. I can't go back and be more gentle four years ago, but I can be the kind of mom I want to be now.
When the kids got home from school that day, Phil and Josh ran off to build Legos and Daniel and were enjoying some end of summer cantaloupe at the kitchen table with Noah.
"You know, D. I've been thinking a lot about what you said this morning. About Noah?"
Daniel seemed flattered. "Really, Mommy? Yeah, well, I just wanted to let you know. You know, crazy mommy and all."
"Yes, you really had a point." I said as we looked at Noah. "He is pretty darn big!"
"Yeah, look at his legs!!" Daniel laughed and Noah started laughing, too. "Hey, maybe you should pick me up, Mommy!"
So I picked D up and plopped him on my hip by the kitchen stove, just like we did in the old days. We giggled and looked at ourselves in the mirror. Unfortunately, as Daniel pointed out, he looked only slightly less ridiculous than Noah.
I told him he wasn't heavy at all. I'd pick him up any day.