So, you had a baby recently, eh? Yeah, good for you, Mummy. Whatevs. Now... TO THE PLAYGROUND!!!!!
She likes showing me what she already knows she can do. He likes mastering all there is to be mastered. They both like to swing.
And Theo? He sleeps while they wear themselves out.
(They're not really wearing themselves out. They've still got plenty more in the tank.)
This thing I know: Kids need to play, and run, and shout, and climb, and knock each other over on the swings. No matter how cold, no matter how weary Mama might be, no matter how many other things could be getting done... bonces who get to play are happy bonces. It's worth every frozen minute of playground loitering.
2. She's Growing Up.
Who is this leggy piece of work with the kinder friends and the mad reading skillz? Seriously, when did this happen? Suddenly I have this grown-up, cord-cutting, baby-loving, pregnancy-faking kid around the place...
She's got a whole new level of coping skills, and an eagerness for chores. With two little boys in the house, I'm very much aware of - and thankful for - her willingness to help, her ability to dress and (kind of) groom herself, and her awesome level of communication. She's fun, and interesting, and affectionate, and I LOVE HER.
And so does this guy, who gives her the BIGGEST smiles:
This thing I know: I am SO PROUD of who my girl is growing up to be.
3. Theo Is Cute.
He's laid-back, and cuddly, and starting to crank out those smiles. He loves to be held, he loves to be with us, and HE KNOWS HIS MAMA. (Who sometimes sneaks away to eat breakfast with two free hands.)
He was born in water, and he doesn't seem to have forgotten.
This thing I know: The hashtag is correct - this kid really is #theodoreable. I'm smitten.
4. He's a Darling.
My Owen is crazy and unpredictable and loves a good "shooter". (Note: ANYTHING can be made into a shooter. Pencil? Obviously. Duplo? Of course. Tissue box? No problem.) He takes things apart and wrestles his sister and crashes toy cars.
He's also so independent he insists on making his own Teddy Bread and choosing his own vitamin from a selection of three, and woe betide anyone who peels his banana for him...
But he's the SWEETEST BOY. Look!
Think he loves his brother? (Hint: he does.)
He can be talking all tough one moment, and the next he sees Theo and his voices switches up three octaves and he goes to mush and it's all, "Hel-lo Feo!" "Hel-lo, lit-tle guuuuuuuuuuuuuuyyy!"
I'm learning to work with his independence instead of trying to control it. I'm learning to appreciate his desire to do everything for himself. I'm learning to embrace his quirks and not get frustrated. I'm learning to let go of Teddy Bread ever looking this good again:
This strong-willed independent streak is fine. Better than fine. Because I know he's setting himself up to be such a confident, capable young man.
(Even if it does mean him taking apart the Lego house I made when I was a kid, in TEN SECONDS FLAT.)
And he's pretty lovely to hang out with.
This thing I know: My little big boy is one awesome dude.
5. We Made a Good Investment.
Baby Owen, who made us tired (and slightly deaf) and took up so very much of our time that poor Little Ellie only got whatever tired scraps were left... we were right about him. He was an AWESOME investment in Ellie's future. Because here they are, not even three years in, and BESTEST buddies.
I love these little packages of nonsense. I love the way they negotiate turn-taking. I love the way they chat when they think I'm not listening. I love the way she calls him "Owie" and watches out for him with her particular combination of care and bossiness. I love the drawn-out way he says her name - "Ahhhl-liee" - and how he loves to surprise her and willingly goes along with all her crazy make-believe games.
I love when they pose together. Because they're just SO CUTE.
I love when they snuggle up together for prayer at bedtime...
(... which was cuter before I turned the light on to take a picture and dazzled the eyeballs out of them both).
They're little mates, and they're there for each other, and I love it.
This thing I know: They are of so much value in each other's lives, those difficult early months were worth every moment.
6. We're Making Another Investment Right Now.
And knowing this, it's so much easier to say, "Sorry, Owen, I can't pick you up right now - I'm holding Theo," or "Sorry, Ellie, I'll do crafting with you later - I have to feed Theo." Because today, Theo is using up most of my time. But then we'll blink, and look again, and he'll be running around with them, playing "Queens and Baddies" and exponentially multiplying their fun.
They're already practicing.
And meanwhile, I'm pretty sure no grudges are being held.
This thing I know: Theo is slotting right into this family like the missing piece we never knew we were missing. We love him.
7. I Would Get Nothing Done Without The Hugabub.
I've never cuddled such a cuddly baby as our Theo. Tired, grouchy, overwhelmed? I pop him in the Hugabub, and within a MINUTE most times he's asleep. Or at least awake but quiet and content. It's lovely. The easiest and most practical bonding time ever. And it means my hands are free to cook dinner, play with the kids, write a blog post... and of course, HAVE ADVENTURES.
(Which have included Rebel Owen deciding, halfway home from the park, that he wasn't done. And MARCHING BACK THERE ALL BY HIMSELF.)
(Important note: It's pretty much impossible to actually give chase in this thing; the best you can hope for is a kind of long-distance follow.)
Looking back on our early weeks with Owen, I wish we'd had this thing back then. I wonder how much it would have eased that transition from one to two. It's lovely for Theo to be held close and feel calm and settled, even while his boncey big brother and sister are keeping me busy.
Also, who doesn't love a babywearing daddy? :) This guy is awesome. He's been sick for a couple of weeks, and suddenly this week I was even sicker and dude took care of EVERYTHING while I pretty much slept three days away.
This thing I know: Theo's starting to get the hang of napping in his bassinet, and that gives me all kinds of new freedom. But he's still new, and he wants to be close to us, and that's fine. In fact, better than fine - I love it. I'm going to miss this when he's bigger.
8. I love what I do.
As far as I'm concerned, motherhood is the best gig ever. I get asked about how I cope with the "hard work" of having three little ones. Strangers at the shops love to tell me I've "got my hands full".
And I have.
Full of blessing. Full of love. Full of fun. Full of joy. My kids don't just fill my time with tasks and my car with crumbs and my ears with songs from Frozen and my house with plastic nonsense which may or may not be turned into "shooters". They fill my whole heart. Pretty sure mamas actually grow a new, bigger heart, just to hold it all.
Sure, my days might look like they're full of child-care-related busyness, without much more than a stolen moment or two to myself. And that's mostly true. But that busyness isn't WORK. It isn't something I HAVE to do, to get to the two seconds of enjoyment. It's ALL good.
I'm not suggesting there's anything glamorous about washing out little undies, or breaking up fights, or collecting the detritus from a week's worth of snacks from under the car seats. And getting a solid night's sleep, or going to the toilet alone, or having a snack without the need for stealth? Sure, they all sound like lovely notions. But I LOVE WHAT I DO. I love doing the hundred little things they need me to do for them every day, because I LOVE THEM. And THEY NEED ME. That's the deal.
And it's a pretty sweet deal. I drop what I'm doing to intervene when they're fighting, and I get to see two little people learning about relationships and social skills and kindness and grace. I herd my little circus through the supermarket, and through all the "ComeonOwen don'ttouchthat waitforme slowdownplease keepupEllie putthatback youdon'thavetocountthemALL we'vegotenoughchocolate STOPTOUCHINGTHINGS" routine, I get to see my daughter practicing her newfound reading and numeracy skills, my son taking such puff-chested pride in being a good helper, my kids working together and encouraging each other and doing their best to be patient.
Like a family photo, from the outside this life might not always look all that glamourous or fun. Tired eyes, strained smiles, stressy babies, four-year-old attitude, two-year-old angst... great big looming red-eyed koalas...
(Liam: too tired for a photo. Ellie: too cool for a photo. Owen: shall not be made to stand where he does not wish to stand. NO. I GO STAND WITH MUMMY. GOOD BYE.)
But despite appearances, that (pictured) stopoff was nice. We stretched our legs. Theo was fine. Owen slipped his warm little hand into mine and we had a lovely little moment. Ellie practiced skipping and happily ticked off another spot on her roadtrip map. And Liam had a cup of coffee just up the road and felt much better.
Likewise, my moments might look chaotic. My kids might argue and interrupt and make a mess. You might not get as much of me as you once would have, because my time and attention have to spread a little further first.
But in the words of the Chilli Peppers, THIS LIFE I CHOOSE. It wasn't thrust upon me to add to all the work I already have to do. "Whoa, yikes, now I've got another one to deal with..." No. I love these kids. I love being their mum, with everything that entails. It's challenging. It's fulfilling. It's FUN.
I love what I do.
And at the end of the day, when they all fall asleep, then no matter how crazy it's been, no matter how busy, no matter how noisy and messy and exhausting...
... This thing I know: I am so blessed.