Let It Out {before duty cries again}

I opened the bathroom door and a cloud of steam whooshed into the hallway. I usually hate to keep it all the way closed because of how warm it gets in there, but tonight I tried to sneak in a shower right after bedtime. The baby was sound asleep in my room, snug in his crib right next to the bathroom wall, so every effort to keep the sound down was being made. As my eyes got used to the dark hallway, I noticed that my bedroom door was wide open, as was the kids’ bedroom door. Wrapped in towel and dripping with anger along with the water from my hair, I hurried to shut the first door as one of the kids came back out of the other room. Guilty was written all across their face and they dashed off a lame excuse about wanting to make sure the cat wasn’t in there and and and . . . As they rambled on in the shadows of the nightlight, I added a long, unhurried, who-cares-what-kids-are-up shower to the list of things I’ll enjoy once M finally comes home again.

It’s been nearly an hour since then and my hair is still wet, I’ve put the baby back to sleep once, shushed other kids in the hallway twice, and threatened hard labor tomorrow three times if they don’t shut it and stay in their beds. Every night we go around and around and they show me just how little respect there is in this house right now. Things were going so well and then attitudes have been in a straight downward spiral over the last two weeks or so. I see the baby far more at night that I would ever like to and I’m sure that has a lot to do with how I’m dealing with the other three that are so intent on pushing my every last button. But, when the dark circles under my eyes are big enough to warrant their own zip code from three, four, or even five hours awake at night, those last shreds of striving to be the patient mother snap under the tiniest bit of pressure.

I keep catching myself thinking “Ugh! The baby/Tater/MJ is just being THE WORST. Tater/MJ/Miss E weren’t this bad at this age at ALL!” And I’ll stew about it and stress about it and loose my temper over it. Then, a few hours later, when the dust has settled, I’ll go ahead and let myself remember that, oh yes, they have all been THE WORST at something. Tater stress tested every thing in this house constantly, with the same force and consistency that ZZ opens doors and drawers and picks every child lock. And MJ used to hit the same late afternoon wall the Tater does, turning into a hurricane of emotions that ended in a teary nap that screwed up bedtime. And I know Miss E flipped out in exactly the same way that MJ does about clothes and friends and homework, settling in to the fine line of first grade being real school compared to kindergarten. I know all this and I see all this and somehow it still doesn’t take the weight off my shoulders and the sting of tears out of my eyes when all I wanted was a shower and maybe a few extra minutes of the evening to myself before being called back to duty.

I tell myself every night to be mindful and to go to sleep early and to simply just let it go. Tomorrow is a new day and new beginnings! But then I find myself texting the husband memes of having zeros fucks left to give by 8am. And dashing off hurried sentences in a display of letting it out or stewing on it for hours while I coax ZZ back to sleep. Tomorrow will be a better day. Next week will be a better week. And next month better be a better month. Or something along those inspirational lines . . .

Nine

It’s rather daunting to start writing about anything other than the proverbial giant elephant standing in the room every time I log in to this here space . . . or, rather, the literal elephant standing in the pictures of the epic trip I absolutely must write about . . . but the top tips for taking four kids around the world and highlights of halfway homeschooling through Southeast Asia will have to wait for another day because today? Today is all about the birthday girl!

Magically, while I was busy blinking or something like that, my first baby turned nine. NINE. One more year until double digits and then she’ll be asking to borrow the car, go out on dates and wear my fancy earrings. And I cannot even handle the thought of how quickly college tours are going to loom around the corner. We just won’t talk about all that right now.

She’s sweet as pie, as caring as a mother, smarter than any whip you’ll ever find, loyal to the bitter end . . . and has a streak of sass a mile wide. I fear the bruises she and I are going to find upon our heads once we hit the next couple of years. Along side that fear though, I see the girl she’s growing into and she makes me proud every day with her thirst for knowledge, grasp for understanding all the unknowns, and desire to be her own unique personality. She stays up far too late reading books that are far above her grade, busts out vocabulary words that I have only used a handful of times in my life, and can find the winning loophole in any argument. She’s crafty and sneaky, beautiful and wonderful, infuriating and amazing . . . and I hope and pray that, as the years go by and details get fuzzy,  I can remember her as this sincere, freckle-faced, long-legged nine year old that begs for independence but still climbs in my bed to cuddle in the mornings.

Here’s to the stack of books she gleefully unwrapped and the new, cooler wardrobe she’s planning to buy with her gift cards. Here’s to still playing with the legos and dolls her siblings picked out, while dreaming of the perfect accessories to match with that wardrobe. Here’s to birthday dinners of scallops and sashimi and calamari, and blowing out the candles on a rainbow sprinkled ice cream cake. Here’s to nine, and all the joy that comes with it.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Miss E!