Saturday, February 15, 2014

Love is

This was a hard week. Not HARD but hard. I feel the need to clarify because I know there are people out there who truly had a HARD week. It only takes reading the news or remembering my Dad recovering from a bone marrow transplant to remember what HARD is. Still, this week challenged me and I'm glad that it's the weekend!

Chris was away on a business trip all week. He left on Monday afternoon for LA (where it was a balmy 75 but who's checking). Not 8 hours after he left did Owen get super sick, as in scary high fever sick. He's still recovering, poor little guy. An ear infection was eventually ruled out and we've basically deduced that he's had a GI bug that's going around and involves horrible stomach pains and high fevers. Also, his two top front teeth were cutting through, so basically a perfect storm of yuckiness and in turn sleeplessness. And when I say sleepless, I mean SLEEPLESS. I really struggle when I don't get sleep. Add to that four stir crazy boys who can't go outside (still too cold-grrrr) and miss their Daddy.

On Thursday, while running through Walgreen's to pick up medicine for Owen, I noticed that Valentine's Day was approaching. I'd almost forgotten yet couldn't miss the aisle of teddy bears, cards, flowers and chocolates. I had to almost laugh because I realized that while other people might be planning romantic days with their loved one, here I was looking haggard as ever, just trying to survive the week.

But then I got thinking about it, driving home from that Walgreen's. What is love? (note to self: contemplating any deep thoughts while severely sleep deprived may cause misty eyes). I thought about that Valentine's aisle in Walgreen's overrun with bears, chocolates, cards and other red and pink items saying "Be Mine" and "I love you". I thought about how although it's nice to shower those we love with material items, that's not where true love hangs out.

So here's what I have to say about love coming off a pretty intense Mommy week, capped off by Valentine's Day:

Love is laying in the most uncomfortable position ever and letting a baby sleep on you all night so he can get some sleep.

Love is getting pooped on and peed on and midnight baths to try and get a fever down. Love is not caring about the poop or the pee or the time of day because helping this little creature feel better is all that matters right now.

Love is waking up to find every one of your babies in bed with you, all cuddled close.

Love is a little boy pausing the incredibly annoying t.v. show Bananas in Pajamas to let you watch some American Idol during a brief reprieve when four kids are sleeping.

Love is peeing while nursing a baby because you know the minute you put him down, he'll cry again.

Love is giving hugs when what all you really want to do is scream.

Love is apologizing when impatience and exhaustion make you less than you want to be.

Love is a nanny who watches all five boys, including the one that's sick, so that this Mama can get some rest. Who despite the whining, fighting, crying and demands that come with so many littles, never once shows anything less than love, patience and acceptance towards them.

Love is neighbors who unbeknownst to you, come over at night and snow blow your driveway because they know your husband is out of town and that your snow blower broke just before he left.

Love is a doctor's office who hears the concern in your voice and despite the fact that the day is ending, squeezing you in just before close.

Love is the little boy who after being tucked in, quietly calls out from the dark, "Mommy can you come here?" Love is wanting to yell, "NO!!! GO TO BED!" but instead going over. Love is when he wraps his arms around you, gives you a kiss and says, "That's what I wanted to give you." 

Love is a husband, though so many miles away knows just what to say, what you need to hear.

Love is a father who takes a red-eye flight just so he can get home to his family earlier.

Love is my own Mama, who says with certainty, "If I weren't 21 hours away, I'd leave right now and come to you." And you know she would. 

Love is a stranger who sees you struggling as you walk into swim practice trailed by four little boys, one who's screaming, two who are fighting and you're running late. She can see you are frazzled. But instead of judging you, she says, "Keep going Mama!" "Keep going Mama, you are doing great!" Then she looks you in the eye and says, "Really, you are." Little did she know that those words would carry me through the week. Through hard parenting moments and late nights, I'd hear those words.
"Keep going Mama."

Love is wine. (errr I mean, love is sitting with my husband, sipping wine and catching up about our week apart).

Love is a husband who shows up at the door with flowers in hand. (GOOD move buddy)

Love is being together again. 

Valentine's Day will not look fancy in our house. But fancy is sometimes empty and real love is sometimes messy and imperfect. This week has reminded me that real love involves giving selflessly without expecting anything in return.

Love is also encouraging each other as mothers. Maybe you've had a hard week too. Maybe you have a sick baby at home. Maybe you haven't slept in days. Maybe you too have been pooped and peed on. Maybe your partner is out of town, or maybe you are a single mom (in which case I give you all the props in the world). Maybe your kids are stir crazy and won't stop fighting, maybe you are snowed in. Maybe your hard week has truly been HARD in which case everything I just mentioned would seem so incredibly trivial. I get that too.

But to all the Mamas struggling this week for whatever the reason, I say to you, "Keep going Mama. You are doing great."

You ARE.

Our traditional *mostly* red or pink Valentine's meal. Owen was sleeping (finally!). We had red smoothies, heart shaped pancakes, strawberries and berry syrup. 


Kathleen said...

This is amazing, Jessica. On little sleep you just redefined the 'hallmark holiday' into a meaningful celebration. I had a few rough patches here this week too, but your sweet words made me reassess things. Thank you!

Elizabeth said...

Love it! You captured the essential love of life! Thanks for making me smile after a hard week! I made beet pancakes for my trio in honor of you!