. When the kids are finally napping and you’re just about to get into the shower and you hear your daughter scream. Motherhood is standing naked in the dark nursery with a miserable and overtired toddler while she smashes her face into your breasts. It’s the sticky feel of her sick-sweaty skin and the way her tiny razor nails dig into the soft folds of your belly. It’s how strong and powerful and whole you feel, comforting your little babe. It’s when her breathing slows and you sway together until she’s just about asleep.
. When you try for the third time to put her back in her crib and each time she startles awake and into hysterics and all of the warm fuzzy feelings wing away with the screams. It’s the twinge of guilt you feel as you shut the door and jump in the shower anyway, letting the pounding water drown out the shrill for just a few minutes.
. The laugh-cry when you pick her up again. Her relief and instant joy at being held by her mama. It’s the way she giggles and pokes your doughy belly button while you snuggle under the covers for a little mid-morning nurse. It’s the the way she smells of sweet baby sweat and bananas.
. The joyful shout and tremor of excitement when you first lift him out of his crib in the morning. He bite-kisses your shoulder and cheek and nose and then throws his head back to laugh. A little tickle under his chin makes him tuck and roll up like a little bug. Your love bug. It’s how he clucks his little tongue, his little way of asking to nurse. It’s how he feels, warm and heavy, in your arms.
. Trying for the 10th time to get something started for dinner while little hands grab at your legs and pull on your pants. It’s the way you learn to use your knees and elbows to block baby hands from reaching the hot oven while you slide something inside. It’s luring your child to the far side of the apartment and then sprinting back to the kitchen to buy you 30 seconds of dishwasher-emptying without a toddler trying to climb in.
. Watching your miniature person learn how to climb on top of the couch and chairs and table. The swell of pride in his little face when he turns around after scaling the mountain, arms reached high with a triumphant shout. It’s the inevitable slip and hard landing, sending your brave boy running back to your arms for a cuddle and kiss.
. It’s mourning the little one you lost. Wondering about what she would look like, one-and-a-half years old. Wondering what sort of personality she would have and what she would think of her two younger siblings. Would they have the closeness of triplets? Would she always seem older and more mature? What is she like now, wherever she is?
. The first moment of baby lust. Missing their newborn skin and smell and little mew cries. It’s the fear that comes with the vaguest thoughts of another pregnancy. Fear of losing another child. Fear of more multiples. Fear of labor. Fear of finances. Fear of losing my sense of self. Fear of claiming or relinquishing too much control. But it’s the excitement too. Dreaming of more little loves to pile into our bed for saturday morning snuggles. Dreaming of a home overflowing with little adventurers and all their messes. Dreaming of school-aged kids around a dinner table, full of thoughts and hopes and dreams of their own. Dreaming of children who become adults, of grown babies bringing home their own babies some mothers day in the far off future. It’s remembering how far away our mothers are, wishing we could do the same.
. Messy. It’s just messy. It’s so many feelings: doubt and joy and love and hurt and caution and elation, all woven together with one emotion flowing seamlessly into the next. It’s the mess of marriage and other friendships that were upended by the arrival of your brood. It’s the mess of you own goals and dreams and aspirations – for your identity outside of ‘mama’. It’s the literal mess of your house. How you have to plan to have people over every other week just so the bathroom counter will occasionally get wiped down and the toys sorted into bins rather than just kicked into the corner.
. Beautiful. The babies are beautiful. Your body is beautiful. Your life is beautiful. The community of mamas is beautiful. Every day brings the wild and unexpected and sometimes painful, but beauty springs up anyway. The innocence and promise of little people is breathtaking. Motherhood is absurd and adorable and exhausting and exhilarating. I’m so thankful.