The house is empty, Jamesie is asleep, the laundry is folded and the dishes are clean. All of my things.... the simple treasures I have collected together - pages ripped from Martha Stewart Weddings and The Knot magazines, my beloved honey-brown leather journal, the ever useful Get To Work Book, and a couple artful May Designs notebooks - lay scattered across the kitchen table. My Macbook Air rests on its black case, conveniently located at the far end of the table near the outlet. This is also where I sit holding my favorite blue clay mug full of white tea with rosebuds. It's called Wedding A Tea for Marriage. It was a gift from two of my bridesmaids. I stare out the window at the afternoon light hitting the river, sigh away my busy morning and relax into the aroma of my "Vanilla Mint" perfumed candle.
Crackle... "eeeeeeey... mmmmaammaa," I hear through the monitor. I glanced quickly at the video on my phone, but I don't really have to look to know that Jamesie is awake. He is sitting up in bed, rubbing his eyes and looking around the room. The evidence of after-nap crankiness unclear, but I know better. His clear expression of need beckons me away from my quiet reprieve. "Oh well," I say aloud to myself as I walk down the hallway and open the door.
I give in to him as he reaches his hands up begging me to lift him, to hold him. He tucks his head under my chin and snuggles close to my heart. I breathe his distinct powdery baby smell and feel his soft golden hair tickle the space between my lips and nose. I smile to myself and forget about my cozy seat at the kitchen table.
Before I know it Jamesie is jumping on my stomach and pulling my glasses off of my face. He's off the bed and out the door in two beats, glasses still in hand. I helplessly pray he doesn't snap them in half. I snatch an empty tin can sitting on my white dresser and follow him out the door, hoping to negotiate a trade. He happily accepts my offering as I pry my glasses out of his tiny iron fist. No tears, just wild smiles and quick feet.
Now that Jamesie is awake, I give up on the tasks I had spread out for myself on the kitchen table and begin slicing some cheese and apples for him to have as an afternoon snack. With my head in the refrigerator, my hand in the produce drawer, I hear the drag of a chair against the ceramic tile floor. NO. Not my computer. I whip around, toss the pink lady apple and Kerrygold Dubliner cheese on the island counter and grab Jamesie just as he is about to reach my computer.
I put him on the ground and pull the chair away from the table. Not matter though... He promptly moves it back over and scampers up on top of the table again. Frantically I grab my computer and tea (which is not ice cold, of course), along with the rest of my pile and carry it over to the island out of reach. The kitchen table is now clear save the solid wood Lazy Susan and a blue box of tissues.
Immediately Jamesie goes after the Lazy Susan. His Granddad taught him how to spin around on it. So. (Insert straight-faced emoticon here). Suffice to say the inherent dangers this act possesses, the juvenile movement of the large wooden platform could easily scratch the polished kitchen table. I take the Lazy Susan and move it to the island as well.
Now, picture this:
Jamesie, wearing nothing but his batman t-shirt and a diaper, running away from me with the blue tissue box in hand, pulling them out one by one and screaming "uh-oh" as he launches them towards the floor; all while dodging my advances as I move around one chair and then another trying to prevent him from falling.
I managed to catch him in a matter of ten-seconds. Looking at the clock and thinking just an hour ago I was sitting peacefully with my fingers wrapped around a hot cup of tea, itching to write. I can't help but laugh out loud. This of course gets Jamesie giggling, and we both end up sprawled out on the floor playing "destroy the block tower" over and over.
Eventually I manage to leave Jamesie to play independently with his snack and water, while I prepare for dinner or unload the dishwasher or respond to emails. I put away my thoughtful, reflective self I was in those moments of solitude. I'm all business now. Doing what I can, when I can, with a rambunctious toddler. The more tranquil tasks will have to wait until tomorrow (or the evening if I'm lucky). Jamesie walks over and clamps on to my legs, staring up at me saying "Maaaamaaaaa." I scoop him up and we head outside to play before the sun goes down.
So much of motherhood is surrender, a willing relinquishment of our whole selves for the betterment of our children. In the beginning, when our babies are very little, it is about connection and comfort and cuddling - and that coziness continues throughout toddlerhood, but it is brief and fleeting. Often I see the willful toddler, the authority challenger, and the frustrated communicator, instead of my sleepy cuddly boy.
I may not get as much finished as I would like to, and the laundry may pile up for weeks on end, but these spontaneous moments with my son are the most important. They are the substance of his young life, aiding him as he grows and learns. These moments require me to give a little more, to sacrifice my already limited personal time, and to adapt my schedule to the realities at hand. But I'm happy to do it.