There's this song by an artist named Elizabeth Mitchell that Sam's business partner passed on to me that does something strange to me every time I hear it. You have to hear the music to really get it, but the lyrics say, I'm so glad I'm here. I'm so glad I'm here. I'm so glad I'm here every day. I'm so glad I'm here. So glad I'm here. So glad I'm here everyday. You know, joy brought me here. Joy brought me here, etc. You know, love brought me here, love brought me here, etc. And then back to I'm so glad I'm here everyday. And it doesn't matter how I've been feeling and or what has frustrated me or what legitimate complaint I might feel that I have; this song is clarifying to me and suddenly, I see the miracle of the moment and gratitude swells up in me and dominates over everything else, even my desire to sleep through the night and the freedom to do whatever I want whenever I want (which, by the way, I have realized is overrated). I haven't heard this song in a while because the CD lives in the family room closet, which is the repository for everything I want to keep away from the children. I have not been able to find it in the 4 seconds I can have the door open before Manny dives in and starts playing with the 10 lb handweights guaranteed to break his toes. What are those handweights doing there anyway? All they do is collect dust. I do my bicep curls with 20 lb babies.
Lately, I haven't needed the CD to have the feeling. And that's a really cool thing. When the girls were first born, I was mightily overwhelmed and scared of being left alone with all three kids. I would count the minutes until Sam got home from work (to be honest, I still do this, but it's different now) and every morning, I had that first day of school feeling, but worse, because this time I was the teacher breastfeeding the students...this metaphor just doesn't hold up. I was just really, really stressed out. And I have found, that when I am stressed out and needy, it is difficult to rest in gratitude. But thanks to a lot of help from family and friends and a tremendous amount of personal growth (my own and all three of the kids), I find that I am able to really celebrate it all. If not in the moment, then within a few minutes of the moment. And that's pretty incredible.
This morning, I was so tired. I am up at least three times most nights. Often more. I do remarkably well considering, but this morning, I was drained. The girls went down for their nap and Manny said, "Mama, play trains?" "Let's just lay here for a minute first," I said. And I plopped down on the sofa bed and pulled the covers over my head, knowing that to Manny, that action was like a porch light to bugs. He was immediately under the covers too, laughing and squirming, kicking me accidentally and elbowing me in the face. You know, snuggling. After a while, he calmed down and we just layed there for, I don't know how long, maybe thirty minutes. Me stroking his hair, him eating mine. (An unfortunate habit of his. My mom always told me that if a boy chases you on the playground, it's probably because he likes you. I am afraid that Manny will chase girls, grab a string of their hair, wrap it around his finger and suck it down like candy, thereby inciting the ridicule of all his classmates. That might be enough to break the habit.) This time ended when Glory woke up. When I brought her back down to the family room, Manny had not moved. He looked up and said so sweetly, "Snuggle me!" I'm in love. We had more great snuggle time tonight (Sam, Manny and I) after Glory and Elena were asleep. All three of us were spooning on his big boy bed and Manny was practicing his lion growls and counting the dinosaurs on his wall. More hair was eaten and I almost didn't notice the sting because the moment was such bliss.
Most naps and nighttimes, I sing my own version of a worship song that Sam's parents sing all the time. The first verse, the real song, goes, "Thank you Lord for saving my soul. Thank you Lord for making me whole. Thank you Lord for giving to me, thy great salvation so rich and free." I go on to sing, "Thank you Lord for Elena Grace. Thank you Lord for her beautiful face. Thank you Lord for letting me be Elena Gracie's mommy." For Glory, I was having a tough time, but Sam helped me out so she gets, "Thank you Lord for Gloria Jane. Thank you Lord for her beautiful mane (she has a killer mohawk sometimes). Thank you Lord for letting me be Glory Jane's mommy." I have branched out to sing thanks for her beautiful name too, which is a partial rhyme with Jane. Still works. And it's a little tribute to my grandma at the same time. I write this, I guess, because I don't ever want to forget that I sing these words to them and I have been at this parenting thing long enough to realize that you can do sometime every day for a long time and then suddenly stop and were it not for the reminder of your spouse months later, never think on it again. Amazing. It used to be while I sang this that the girls would often suck on my face, which I loved. Now they pinch me like little crabs in training. I am covered in small scabs and red scratches. I look like someone whipped me with a string of Christmas lights. But I guess I love that too because it means their fine motor skills are really improving, which means they will be able to eat more finger foods soon. Mmm...finger foods. Time for second dinner. I'm so glad about that too.