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New phases

How do you know when one’s over?

I just got done scrolling through photos of my sister-in-law’s family vacation to Florida. They surprised their three girls, ages nine, 12 and 14, with the trip last week and if the photos tell an accurate story, that story was all smiles.

Oh, I’m one of three girls, so I know there was some drama over outfits, hair, bathroom time and who was walking too slow or sitting too close, but I bet you for the most part those memories were warm and lasting and made during the sweet spot of their young lives.

While I scrolled, I was rocking my seven-month-old baby to sleep, the one who was just born yesterday but now, by some miraculous act of which I had little part, she’s sleeping through the night in her own crib. Downstairs. Without me.

Which is great, of course, because, SLEEP! But I know from experience that this is just the beginning of all of the little milestones that start as soon as their eyes open and then quickly they all snowball into the big thing called growing up too fast. I know because I’m an expert, I mean, I also have a two-and-a-half-year-old and she just told me to “relax.” So now she’s thirteen.

Anyway, I laid a sleeping Rosie down in her crib and walked out into the kitchen, smiling at the thought of my happy nieces jumping in the ocean, getting soaked at Splash Mountain and buying matching Mini Mouse ears and I thought, “Three. I’ve always wanted three.”

“Your sister is making me want another baby,” I said to my husband who was pretending to sleep on the chair, wrapped up in the two-year-old’s blanket in a weird, theatrical performance put on to make her think bedtime is a good idea.

And I don’t know if he even replied. Now that I think of it, maybe that whole sleep act was his response to me.

It should have been.

Because that’s crazy talk.

I started a new chapter in my life when I finally became a mother almost three years ago. It took me so long to get there, that I didn’t think of what it meant to be in my life as well as in the trenches with full on rowdy, growly, messy, whiny, squishy, smelly, chatty, wonderful, adorable, maddening children.

Turns out I feel like I’m failing more than I’m winning, especially on days that end with scooping poop out of the bathtub before putting them both down two hours past their bedtime because we live on a ranch and it’s summer and we’re outside forever because it never gets dark.  

What I’m trying to say is that we already have our hands full. What I’m trying to do is convince myself that two is enough. Because between my husband and I we have at least five jobs, a never ending house project, cattle to raise, hay to put up, laundry that’s never done and because we’re insane, a puppy. I consider my down time the time I spend on my riding lawn mower and, if I start feeling too free on that thing I’ll end up mowing the entire horse pasture.

When I was pregnant with my first I remember wondering out loud to my little sister what parts of my life I would be able to pull off when I had this child.

“All of it,” she replied. “You’ll continue to do all of it, and you’re going to be tired.”

Some people know us better than we know ourselves.

In this month’s issue our writers reflect on new beginnings, eloquently revealing that throughout our lives, there are so many ways we get to start fresh.

But when do you know when it’s time to call it quits?

I don’t know the answer to that yet. Perhaps we’ll explore it in another issue. But for now those pictures of my nieces tired out from a week of vacation fun, sleeping on one another in a sweet pile of exhausted adolescence in the back of their parents’ car makes me look forward to what’s coming next for our little family of four.

Or five.

Because against my better judgment and all things sane and reasonable, a part of me feels like someone needs to be there in that middle seat on Splash Mountain…

Oh, maybe not. Ask me about it tomorrow.  I’ll likely have changed my mind.

I think…

Written by Jessie Veeder

Jessie Veeder

Jessie is a singer/songwriter/writer and statewide columnist living on her family’s ranch near Watford City with her husband and daughter. She blogs at veederranch.com . Reach her at jessieveeder@gmail.com. (facebook.com/veederranch)

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