Much of the time, our mornings are crazy and hectic. I am constantly moving and barking orders at the boys in attempts to conquer the miraculous feat of getting to school on time. Ethan starts his high-pitched screaming as if that will successfully encourage his slow-poke brother to HURRY UP! Connor breaks records on how long it takes to get shoes on one’s feet. I transform our quiet neighborhood into an action movie thriller with my car skidding out the driveway. The race to school includes Ethan’s oncoming panic attack as he laments the possibility of being tardy…again.
Sometimes, like today, they get up early. Before I can start my drill sergeant routine, I realize that they have already gotten dressed, made their beds, placed their PJ’s off the floor and in their proper place, and managed a couple rounds of relatively quiet Star Wars battles. They eat breakfast, brush their teeth and one of them remembers to bus his dishes. ON THEIR OWN WITHOUT CUES FROM ME, they pack their backpacks, put on their shoes and jackets, and wait in the car. They sit in the dark garage buckled in their seats for 15 minutes which for two young kids is almost an eternity. I drive normally and both kids are EARLY to school.
Much of the time I want to wear ear plugs. I have to tell the kids that they do not need to scream at each other from one feet away. If there is a rare moment of peace, it could be because they are climbing up the ceiling-high, built-in bookshelves without thinking that their mom would rather not have a trip to the ER today.
Sometimes, they speak in normal inside voices. Sometimes, when I do not hear anything from them for awhile, my growing sense of doom is quickly laid to rest after I am greeted by the beautiful image of them reading books together. It makes me not even mind when my overstimulated ears hear Ethan shouting to me, “MAMA! Did you know it takes Saturn 29,004 years to orbit the sun?!?!”
Much of the time, I hone my referee skills multiple times a day. I yell at the boys to stop fighting and in a truly tyrannous tone instruct them to speak nicely to each other. I am counting in the most threatening of ways that parental anthem of “1…2…3!…4!!…” for them to listen to me the first and not 20th time. I am doling out due punishment and subsequently considered as “mean Mommy” or the cause of wailing tear-flow that rivals Niagara Falls. Big brother will find entertainment at little brother’s expense by hiding from him and laughing hysterically at little brother’s cries of heartache when he cannot find him. Ethan finds it his personal duty to torment Connor much of the time.
Sometimes, like yesterday, my younger son will come up to me, wrap his little arms around me, and say, “I love you, Mama” just seconds after being punished, lectured, and forced to make amends with his greatest nemesis (big brother). Sometimes, they will immediately respond to a command and cause a shocked mother to retract the habitual next breath’s start of counting off. Sometimes, older brother will pretend not to see his hiding little brother who unlike his skilled big bro chooses a painfully obvious spot. Instead, Ethan will count loudly, voice his wonder at where Connor could possibly be, and eventually find him with heartfelt congratulations: “Wow, Connor, you picked a GREAT spot!” Connor’s pure joy produced by Ethan’s loving act almost matches his Mama’s.
Sometimes, after constant battling that produces the most horrific war scenes and deafening soundtracks, Ethan will end the long day with a sincere melt-this-Mama’s-heart conclusion: “I’m glad I have a little brother.”
Sometimes, I will stop and focus on the many “sometimes” and recognize that what appears to happen much-of-the-time is not as ubiquitous as I think. When I savor the “sometimes,” I realize that they outnumber the grueling other times in my motherly memory (even if that memory is not completely accurate). The power of those sweet moments outweigh the actual occurrences of the others. And I realize that my life is full of beautiful sometimes.