The other night my husband and I were sitting on the couch watching some End of Times show he had recorded. End Times stuff isn't really my thing to hear about, since I feel I'm already experiencing it when our house perpetually looks somewhere between apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic. Thus, I wasn't paying a great deal of attention to the show. I was browsing Facebook and Twitter looking for quality cat-stealing-dogbed videos when our 4 year old shuffled into the room.
Climbing up on the couch, he snuggled into my side with a sweet "Mom, I wuv you" and shared his nigh-nigh (blankie) with me, smoothing it over my lap. He provided insightful commentary on the show my husband was watching, like 'Wow, dat's a wot of bugs!" (swarm of locusts) and "Someone put juice in da river" (The rivers and seas would turn to blood.) I found his interpretations of the scenes far more entertaining than the actual show. When it was finally time to go to bed he looked at us with big sweet eyes and said, "I hweep in your bed?" (He hasn't mastered his "S's" yet.) We both giggled at his ridiculous cuteness and scooped him up and put him between us in bed.
As I lay there with him between us, I realized how much our parenting has changed in 10 years. In some ways I feel a twinge of guilt because I think he probably has had the best version of us, as parents. We are far less high-strung and neurotic, we are experienced and/or worn down but most of all we are tired. Having your first 4 year old at 34 is an entire solar system away from having your third 4 year old at 40 (and 42 for the Hubby.)
When we had him, we knew he would be our last. From the time we brought him home I did some things so differently than I had before. Many of his naps were on my chest in a recliner, laundry and dishes piling up around us and unlike the two other times in my life when I had a newborn, I didn't care. I knew that these moments of having a little cocoon of a baby on my chest, were limited and I wanted to savor every moment of them. The laundry and the dishes were always going to be there, a snoozing ball of babiness wouldn't.
The experience, er exhaustion, hasn't always manifested itself in savoring moments. It has also shown up in knowing which battles to fight. When it came to potty training, sure I was annoyed at the youngest's disinterest, but after battling a year and a half with our first son, I wasn't going to drive myself mad. I knew it would eventually happen, on his own terms, and he wouldn't be wearing pullups to 7th grade. Additionally, the Hubs has reminded me (several times) there is no training in potty training, they already know how to go potty. They need to care and show interest. Sidenote: Although I agree, I have never seen his hands in the toilet swishing out Scooby Doo underroos that have been soiled, but that is probably a nonessential point... Anyway, in the end, it took just a package of Disney's Planes underwear, and his own decision to to wear some cool Jolly Wrenches underwear and that was that.
Last night when asked to sleep with us, I didn't even hesitate. The oldest is knocking on the door of tweendom and eyerolls, and while our daughter is still mostly dwelling in the land of princesses, rainbows and glitter, I've already been lobbed a few volleys of "You HATE me!" I know that opportunities for snuggles are disappearing like the summer sunset you stare at until it slips down past the horizon, soaking in the last glimmering orangey-pink glow until it goes dark.
As we settled into bed, I pulled my little guy's back to my chest, and he tucked his feet between my knees. My Hubby fell fast asleep and after I kicked him to roll over and cease his snoring, I relaxed into my snuggle buddy. His fidgeting quickly slowed and his breath became rhythmic and soft. I rolled to my back and thought about how fast time flies and that I need to treasure these moments. My profound thoughts were shattered by a small arm landing on my face in the pitch blackness. My son had rolled to his back and in typical child form, splayed his arms out like a sleeping referee declaring a touchdown. I removed his arm from my eye socket and smiled, kicked my Hubby who was snoring again, and realized our family is, in its own way, experiencing our own sort of end times. And, I think I'll be OK with it... as long as there are no (more) infestations.