I've been waking up before the girls lately, and it's not because the girls have suddenly learned to sleep in. For some reason, the early morning light prods my tired eyes open right around 5:20-5:30 every morning. For the first week, I resented it and every minute I could've been sleeping. But now it seems my body and mind have succumbed to the fact that no matter what I do, the sun is my wakeup call, and I have found peace and strength in my quiet mornings.
This morning, in fact, I stayed lying in bed instead of jumping up to sneak a quick shower alone, and I just enjoyed the singing and chirping of the tiny birds outside my window. I listened to the wind rustle my faux wood blinds. And I reviewed some memories of the week without opening my eyes.
Earlier this week, my dad came in town for a quick visit. It was a last minute trip he was able to take to spend a few extra days with his girls before we all head to the land of barbecue and big rigs. ;) The girls love my dad so it was a real treat to host him, even if I wasn't even slightly prepared with a clean house or a refrigerator full of groceries. My dad isn't one to care about things like that so he helped where he could and mostly played with the girls whenever they were around. On Wednesday afternoon, we took the girls to the beach for a picnic. We found a cozy little spot right under some shady palm trees (my dad burns after about 2.5 seconds in this California sun) and let the girls run wild. Every once in awhile they'd look back at where we were sitting and flash their big toothy grins. The girls would do just about anything to live at the beach.
Because I am so used to the beautiful California weather, I could hardly stay in the shade too long without feeling goosebumps dot my arms. I laughed at how ridiculous it was to feel cold in 70 degree weather and excused myself to sit in the sand. I dug out a warm spot in the sand and watched the girls run up and down the beach collecting shells and mud and whatever else they managed to find. In the silence, I couldn't help but feel so honored to be their mother. I have exceptional kids. They are, of course, still kids so they still make me crazy a good percentage of my day, but man...I got lucky. They love me completely and love each other just as much as long as chocolate or markers aren't involved.
Genevieve took Elle's hand and coaxed her into the water. Elle generally remains on the warm sand with me so I looked on curiously wondering how Elle would react to the cold water. She didn't flinch. She just kept walking out farther and farther until she had completely soaked her clothes (I didn't think it was necessary to change her since she rarely gets in). Mya happened to be close by and ran out to play with them. Elle fell on her face a couple of times and without hesitation both girls lifted her out of the water and carried her to shore each time. Each time, she'd go out for more. I laughed alone on that sandy shore as I watched my girls splash and play together. It will always be a very sweet memory.
I think the thing I get asked the most second only to "Are you still going to have more?" is "Why did you have your kids so close together?" My answer completely depends on the situation, the person and my mood. Most often though this is my response: "It was never our plan, but we have since learned that what we plan rarely works out so we are just learning to roll with it." And then I add the following because I'm an ornery old duck, "And yes, we do think we will have more." People do not know how or what to respond so the question ends there. It still strikes me as odd that people think having more than two kids is some monumental thing when in fact it is the reality of so many women I know.
However, because I like you and you already know that I am ornery most of the time, I feel the need to explain things a bit further, and perhaps just for my own personal record. It is true that having three kids so close in age was not our plan, but it is our plan now, and I wouldn't change it for the world. I live in a constant state of chaos. A good chaos. Sometimes all five of us are laughing so hard we can't stop. Other times we are all screaming so hard we can't stop unless we're separated. It's pure madness, and I love it. I guess what I love most about our current situation is that my girls are all such good friends. Genevieve is the perfect middle child. She loves both Mya and Elle equally and plays with whomever is available at the moment she is looking for a playmate. Elle finds some sort of strange peace with Mya. Mya calms her a lot, and as Mya grows she is such a helpful big sister. She's always alerting me that Elle dropped something in the car, and she tells me which arm to use to reach it. You have no idea how useful that is. Or maybe you do. Thank goodness for older siblings. What would the world do without them?
A couple of weeks ago, Mya did something that hurt Genevieve. I can't actually remember if she physically hurt her or emotionally hurt her (it's all about the same under the age of 5), but all I know is that V came running up to me with tears in her eyes. I asked her what was wrong, and she explained that Mya had done something. I called for Mya to come see me and just as soon as she approached me she started getting red and defensive. I hadn't even said a word to her yet. After she was done rattling off her side of the story, which I remember being completely bogus, I looked at her and said, "I understand your side Mya, but you hurt Genevieve. You need to show her some love and when you're ready, I'd like you to apologize." I stopped forcing apologies out of Mya a long time ago. They are much more sincere when she does it herself. An hour or so passed and V had long since gotten over the fight, but I reminded Mya that she still needed to talk to her. Mya asked why in a tone that always rubs me the wrong way, but instead of getting frustrated with her, I told her one of the reasons I loved my big sister:
When I was little, I used to get nightmares almost nightly. I was/still am a total wimp when it comes to scary things so anything remotely creepy or scary would set me off in a frenzy, such as Ghostbusters, Scooby Doo, fire, alligators, gangs, etc. I was probably 4 or 5, and I would wake up in a panic, cover my head with my blanket, and count as high as I could with hopes the fear would dissipate. It rarely would so I'd throw the Winnie the Pooh covers off my head and dart across the room (or the lake of alligators) to my sister's bed. I'd tap her shoulder and without even blinking, she'd lift her blanket and let me sleep next to her. Sometimes she'd rub my hair. Sometimes she just placed her hand on my back just to remind she was there, and I would fall asleep. It happened for years. Who knows how much sleep she actually got back then?! Poor thing.
I told Mya about her Aunt Amanda and said, "You see. You have a big job. You can show love to your sisters in ways I cannot. And you don't even have to tell anyone what you do, you can just do it." She nodded and said, "Okay mom. I guess I didn't understand." I hugged her so tight and whispered in her ear, "You already do a great job. You just don't realize it. And when you need just Mya time, you tell me and I'll carve out some time just for you to be alone." Satisfied, she marched right over to Genevieve and gave her a big hug and said, "I'm sorry Genevieve. I love you."
I live for those moments. I guess that is one reason why I love having my kids close in age. I love watching their relationships develop. I even like watching them fight, as long as the fight doesn't drag on and on over some ridiculous happy meal toy. I hate dumb toys. And I hate the way kids think they are the coolest things on the planet and feel the need to pick fights over them. Okay, I really guess I really don't love fighting since it's almost always about a dumb toy.
We move before the month is over, and I feel the lump beginning to rise in my chest. This wonderful city has been so good for our family. We have grown so close. And although I hate to make my girls go through another change, I am glad they will always have one constant: they have each other.