The Little Years

I am in the little years.

The days drag but the years fly.

Overwhelmed by the demands of life, and overjoyed by the delights of toddlers.  I am too often too exhausted to enjoy the fun, and I long for bedtime so I can rest.

I want to work, but I feel guilty when I’m away.  I want to be home, but I feel drained by the demands of little boys.  I want to stay home; I want to work.  I want to play; I want to be alone.

Facebook reminds me that the years zoom by.

Piles of dishes and laundry call.  One boy poops his pants, and another scrapes his knee. One screams when his brother takes his toy.  Milk drips off the table, pooling on the floor.  An endless cycle of little kid crises.

In the midst of the crying and wiping, I wonder if I’m good enough for my children.  I want them to have everything while being grateful for everything they have.  I want to love them perfectly; I know I fuss too much.  I want to create a safe, clean home for them.  I want them to experience a happy childhood; I feel inadequate.  I am torn between work and home and play and chores.

In the ultrasound room, the expectant mother and I look intently for a flicker on the screen.  We stare, desperate to see the flutter of hope, future, joy.  It is not there.  No movement, no life.  We cry for a baby not meant to be.  My arms ache for my own babies, and I long to feel their breath on my skin, their hearts beating against my chest.

Mommy, say yes to go fish and hide-and-seek and play-dough and pretend, because the little years are flowing by, like a river rushing; I try to catch these moments as they slip between my fingers.

Now I have family pictures of me with boys in my lap and clinging to my legs, but too soon I will be the smallest one in the picture, surrounded by grown men.  I don’t want to wish away the little years, tired of the demands.

I have so many drawings and “I love you” notes I ran out of room on the refrigerator.  I hear toddlers singing “Jesus Loves Me” and I don’t want their voices to change.  At 6 am, the door creaks open and a toddler snuggles up to me in bed, and I kiss him and love him so much I can’t breathe.

But I struggle to live in the moment, love the little years, forget crises and messes that make up our day.

I want to be with them; I want to be away.

This is a time of love, and a time of labor.

These are the little years.

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About jennyvogan

Author of "Stephen's Mom," a blog documenting the funny, crazy life of raising four boys while keeping my day job as an ultrasound tech.
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