Some days, I think having two children is not much different than having one. Today is not one of those days. In some ways, the newborn stage has been much easier this time around. For instance, I can tolerate more than ten seconds of crying without wanting to cry myself -- which is a good thing, since I'm pretty sure Esther has cried more in the past six weeks than Josiah has cried in his entire life (despite my ability to perform all 5 "S"s simultaneously, while cooking dinner). Additionally, we have accomplished a schedule -- a feat that I was unable to pull off in the first year and a half of Josiah's life, in part because I returned to work 10 weeks post-partum and was married to an intern. I have more realistic expectations for myself (i.e. not hoping the scale will read my pre-pregnancy weight at my 6 week post-partum visit) and my family. Experience is a beautiful thing.
But some days, having two equally precious and yet very unique individuals requesting my attention simultaneously has proven exceedingly difficult. Like today, when I did my best to get Josiah to music class at the library with a screaming Esther in tow (note: I did not sign him up for this, and am actually unsure how he got enrolled, but received an email suggesting cancellation is highly frowned upon). As an aside, onions are apparently still problematic for Esther's digestive tract (nice to know).
We survived the music class and went on to the playroom, where I asked Josiah if he had to go to the bathroom. He declined, preferring instead to enjoy the social scene. Less than five minutes later, he turned to me with this panicked look and says "I have to go potty!". Turns out we need to work on his understanding of the present progressive tense, since he actually meant, "I am peeing my pants right now!" I scooped him and the twenty pound diaper bag up, smushing Esther to one side in the Baby Bjorn. Everything was wet (including his socks) by the time I got him across the library to the bathroom. This kid NEVER had a full-on accident since potty training, and he pretty much lost it. Fortunately, I found a pair of shorts stuffed in the diaper bag from our trip to Buffalo last weekend (appropriate for the 90-something degree weekend, but not so much for the 40-something degree Wednesday from Hades). After a quick change, I dragged him (sockless), the toys he had been gripping, Esther, and the ridiculous diaper bag back across the library.
My plan to abandon the yet-to-be-checked-out library books was thwarted by an escalation in little man's meltdown (he loves his books). Checked out the books with him perched on the counter, as the librarian eyed me warily. At the car, my attempt to get Esther in her seat started her wailing. My attempt to comfort her started Josiah wailing (more specifically, "I need Mommy!"). Esther got a pacifier. Josiah got a five minute embrace and pep-talk. In his shorts. In the parking lot. In the 40-degree weather. Esther cried most of the way home. As soon as we got in the door, Josiah had to go to the bathroom again (did someone slip this kid a diuretic?). I took a deep breath and the words of this song (which had been playing in the car) echoed in my mind:
Nothing that you've done will remain, only what you do for Me.
And I realized that my perfection-driven meltdowns are often internal, but no less real than Josiah's. I am so performance oriented, a trait I hope not to pass on to my children. With my eyes on myself, I fluctuate between pride and desperation. But with my eyes on the cross, I can only feel gratitude. Gratitude for what Christ did for me, completely independent of my efforts, and for the love that motivated His sacrifice.
Ultimately, my children cannot and will not have a perfect mother. But I want them to have a mother whose failures point her (and them) to the perfect Father.