“Mommy, look! I’m helping Bea crawl,” my 3-year-old daughter, Madeline, shouted with enthusiasm as I looked up last week to see her pulling her 7-month-old sister, Beatrice, by the head across the wooden floor in our living room.
Fortunately, Bea was wearing fleece pajamas so she slid easily along on her belly. She was completely unfazed by the sudden wild ride and looked up and laughed at her big sister.
I wish I shared her resiliency. It’s been a whirlwind adventure since we had our little Baby Bea, as we call her, in April. She was born with her umbilical cord wrapped tightly around her neck, so much so that my doctor had to cut the cord before she was fully delivered. Ten days later, little Bea was back in the hospital with a wicked case of jaundice and she spent a full day and night soaking up the rays under the bili lights, her own personal tanning bed.
Bea was a few weeks old when she attended her big sister’s high school graduation ceremony, her first of a lifetime of family celebrations.
Having two daughters born 15 years apart was a relative piece of cake. Adding an infant, even a sweet and happy one, changed our family dynamic. Life became even more chaotic when my self-employed husband got a new job a couple of months ago. Suddenly he is out the door early each weekday morning and I am stuck trying to get ready for work myself, but at the same time also getting both little ones ready and out the door for day care. And since I often work late, he’s at home caring for the kids by himself.
Both kids seem to instinctively know when it’s their shift to wake us up in the middle of the night, inevitably at least a couple of hours before the alarm — not once, but some nights three times.
I consider it a personal victory if I can make it out the door each morning wearing two matching socks and without baby puke on my shirt. Spit happens. It happens a lot with a baby.
I’ve recently surprised myself by becoming a coffee drinker, realizing that the only way I can survive on so few hours of sleep is by becoming highly caffeinated. I’m just wondering if the eye twitch ever goes away.
Still, amid the tears — most often my own — and the sleepless nights, my three girls provide so much love and laughter in our home.
My eldest, who is graduating from Central Lakes College in December at age 18, leaves for the University of North Dakota in January. We’re going to miss her, especially her little sisters, whose eyes light up when she’s around them. I know she’s going to miss them, too. She wants to be an elementary school teacher and she has demonstrated she has a big heart for children.
This Thanksgiving I’m filled with gratitude. Life may feel crazy some days, but I do realize I will look back and feel these were the best days.
And I’ll probably have forgotten all about the dried Play-doh in the carpet, the Disney princess stickers permanently adhered to the kitchen stools and the mittens that suddenly go missing from day care to the house.
JODIE TWEED may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5858.