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My circus, my monkeys.

I was told recently that there’s an old Polish (my acquired heritage by marriage) saying that goes, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” And while I respect that saying, the more accurate term to me seems to be…”My circus, my monkeys.” Identifying with exactly what IS mine to handle.

Let me tell you 3 ½ and 1 ½ are quite the age to mother. I know I know…each phase has it’s obscenities and delights… but this is the stage my circus is at right now. And let me start by saying…(which I’m sure none of you doubt, but it’s imperative to highlight) that I LOVE my circus. As wild, chaotic and farfetched the intricacies of my parenting days may seem…darling discussion; simple moments to savor and absolute (insert heart eye emoji here) elation emerge from the cracks and crevices of our days home together.

Starting with the atrocities…my children have had 0 issue making bowel movements since birth…I have never (ever) had to question their digestion and regularity. (Help me Jesus.) So much so that they actually go multiple times a day. Which make the diapering stages just charming. Henley (my 1 ½ year old) will literally poop on the floor (brand new carpet…of course) seconds after I bathe her and don’t immediately put a diaper on her bum. (Face to palm.) How that happens in the seconds I am given from the flailing wet, naked baby that despises being dried off, to instructing the 3 ½ year old who thinks she is a mermaid princess not to slosh all of the bath water onto the bathroom floor, is beyond me. (Heaven help.)

One of the atrocities that make the hairs on the back of my neck prickle up is even the slightest interruption to nap time (glorious, peaceful, nap time). I will do just about anything to keep my two hours of utter silence in my home. When I get a notification that one of my daughters has moved my breath catches and a prayer escapes my lips, “Please Lord let them stay asleep.” These two hours help keep my sanity. I honestly don't know how mothers live without it. I will hold on to this golden time for as long as children are under my roof. (Aka mama needs to recharge, so we will all go to our respective rooms for quiet time whether ages 0 to 18.) One kink to this plan is Halen no longer has a lock on her door, for potty training purposes (Lord help in that feat alone…{exasperated grumble}) So oftentimes I hear, “Mommy…MOmmy, MOMMy, MOMMY, MOMMYYYYYYY!” coming from the balcony, outside of her room. And it always starts as a whisper, low enough that I pray my ears are playing tricks on me. Then in 3.2 seconds it turns into a full on, when did my daughter become a football coach yell. And then I scramble from my serene spot on my bed and rush toward the ostentatious sound coming from my darling daughter’s lips. I find her sticking her face, donning goggles and layers of random clothing (usually a tutu has been found) through the railing. And of course the moment I lay eyes on my first born, my heart flutters a little (because oh how I love her y’all) and then I have to hold back my laughter (because this girl is just so funny…goggles?! She just keeps us on our toes e-v-e-r-y-d-a-y.) She is so fun, and yet so difficult to parent. But she’s my monkey.

Right before this much desired nap time is right about when my mommy gauge gets to a level where I am somewhere between a panic attack and ripping my ears off my head from the following: whining because Halen wants a bar and bread and noodles, now. Henley crying because older sister tries to carry her all over the house from her neck. Blackberries and banana and oatmeal is allllllllllll over the kitchen floor (when I wish I had a dog), kid bowls, kid plates, kid cups, pots from making oatmeal are all piled high in the sink, clothes are strewn everywhere (90% clean but not folded or put away, 10% dirty) and my patience is zapped. This is when I ask Jesus to help me be slow to anger and quick to forgive. This is when I grab my White Angelica from the oil cabinet and inhale like my life depended on it. AHHH!

Moments that make my heart happy…when Henley and I go pick up Halen from school (big-almost toddler) Henley (cry my eyes out) likes to walk on her own and when she does she stops to say hi to everyone we pass. It is the cutest thing. Henley will literally put her hand on them; look them in the eye and say, “Hi!” and wave. I mean…if that doesn’t make a mama proud. #futureinterviewexpert #joblandedonthespot

After I get Henley down to nap, I get some special time with Halen. We cuddle in my bed usually, and I’ll hold her close while we watch a Sofia the First episode. She is my cuddler, and I love it. I am a touchy feely person and this girl and I can have some major cuddling sessions. Three is a magical age where suddenly they will (sometimes) sit with you and not be bouncing off the walls with 0 attention span (like Henley at the moment). So we can watch a show or enjoy a movie all cuddled up together.

Bedtime with both girls is a double edged sword, I cherish the moments putting them down, but by this point my nap time restoration has almost expired again and I am ready to relax with my hubby, and my book, in bed sans kids. Oh the mom guilt... it punches me deep in the gut every single time. With Henley, I am still rocking her to sleep, which I am gripping onto with all my might, as I am fully aware these nights will be no longer sooner than my mama heart is ready for. So, I try to slow my heart rate, be present and soak these nights up. As I rock Henley I used to count, then I decided this was a precious time to pray. So I pray and ask God to help me be the best parent for Henley girl…present, loving unconditionally. I thank God for her deep blue eyes and curly hair. Her belly laughs, her health, and baby gibber (that too is soon to expire) and the moments I get with her each day. As I rock Henley I listen to her breathing, I hold her close, kiss her hands and forehead, and breathe in my baby girl.

Halen’s bedtime routine is a bit more drawn out (which is what pushes the tipping point for my patience quota for the day), but after all the hubbub and we finally crawl into Halen’s bed. We read stories, we talk about her favorite part of the day, we talk about what she learned, and we pray and cuddle. I get to hear her heart’s desires, her questions, and her funny remarks on life. And I love it. It is so sweet and precious.

Mothering is so tough dear mamas. I know these scenarios above happen daily in more houses than I can count. And yes we will have moments when we turn from Mary Poppins to Batman, because holy moly keeping the monkeys in line IS a circus. It takes planning, tight rope walking, balancing, acrobatic acts, juggling and sometimes a giant finish in a tiny pool of water (or that is all a metaphor for a mama running around with her patience barely in tact and sweat pooling where it shouldn’t). The key is knowing our limits (why I am so adamant about nap time), trying our best to be the calm (but sturdy) mama, and giving ourselves grace when we just don’t keep it together all the time. Amiright?? Amen for when babies sleep through the night, strong coffee and cute (yet comfortable) fall clothes. You’re doing awesome mamas! Cheers to us, we got this. Our circus, our monkeys.

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