Twelve and a half years ago, I was a really good mom.
I was amazed at the responsibility that had been entrusted to me, and I took motherhood very seriously.
I looked into the face of my first-born Hobbit, and I recognized that her life was a blank canvas. It was my privilege to paint the colors of the world for her.
I cared for her physical needs, played with her to develop her mind and body, and nurtured her emotionally. She rewarded my efforts with smiles, snuggles, intelligence, and early verbal skills.
She was a charming, polite, and gifted child. Job well done!….maybe I should do it again…
Hobbit #2 required that I learn to divide my attention and prioritize my time. It was impossible to attend to both Hobbits at once, and I always wondered if I was meeting their needs.
It was a steep learning curve, but Hobbit #2 also thrived and charmed the world around her. She was affectionate and adventurous….intelligent and beautiful. She rushed into life with open arms, where her older sister had preferred quiet observation.
When the Boy Hobbit was born, I learned to relax and remember that the intensity of the early days would pass more quickly than I could know.
My Hobbits stayed in pajamas all day and ate yogurt and granola bars for lunch. I made pancakes…or frozen waffles…or peanut butter and jelly for dinner.
Clean laundry was never folded or put into drawers, but we learned to dig to the bottom of the baskets to find what we needed.
I realized that there would be time enough to attempt perfection….for now, good enough was perfectly good enough.
I was just beginning to discover my mediocre.
When Hobbits #4 and #5 joined our family, my standards relaxed even more.
Hubby values the peace of an organized home….I could care less. Over many years, we have reached a compromise that works well enough. He still wishes the house were clean….I still don’t care….but he learned to let go a little, and I learned to step it up a little.
And then came the Baby Hobbit….boy, was she a surprise!
We were done with babies….absolutely done. The crib was still in use, but we had given away the swing, the bouncy seat, the bassinette. The clothes were donated the moment they were outgrown. We were moving on.
I complained to mediocre sister, “I can’t be pregnant. I don’t even own a onesie.” She showed up at my door with two tiny, white onesies.
Hubby did not say one word for a full 24 hours after I told him the news.
I nearly had a panic attack when I finally drove to the midwife’s office for my first check-up….already into my second trimester. Every month, the lingering smell of the hospital soap on my hands gave me heart palpitations.
We prepared the best we could….and then the Baby Hobbit came to us.
Her birth was my favorite….not the most exciting….but the birth that left me feeling completely powerful and in control.
She was a big girl, and I laughed with delight the moment I held her in my arms.
She is another unique personality…..and two years old is magical. Her vocabulary is exploding, and her thought process becomes more sophisticated each day. She is no longer a baby….she is a tiny person.
She is constantly learning new things….like dressing herself…..(although that could actually be a reflection of just how mediocre I have become.)
She may have realized that if she was ever going to get out of her pajamas, she would have to take matters into her own hands. ”I do it ‘self,” she says.
She changes her clothes at least five times a day. She zips herself into footed sleepers for church, and puts on jeans at bedtime. And guess what?….mediocre mommy doesn’t really care. First-time mommy would have cared….a lot.
Pajamas for church?….at least you are warm. I may try to coax her into something other than jeans at bedtime for the comfort factor….but I have learned to pick my battles.
I thought I had forgotten how precious this age is….like I have forgotten so many other things….but I think that, perhaps, I never really saw my Hobbits at two years old.
Every time I had a toddler Hobbit, I was consumed with the relentless demands of a newborn.
Verbal skills only meant that I could now understand their unreasonable demands.
Attempts to “do it myself” were an annoyance that made me late everywhere we went.
Opinions about what to wear caused us to butt heads and rearrange drawers, so that pajamas were not in reach.
Parents have a reputation for being hard on the first children and spoiling the baby of the family.
In some ways, I suppose it is true.
I cared about a lot of details in the early days of creating my family, and there are a lot of things that just don’t matter so much anymore.
I think that perhaps this is the gift of the last child.
I am able to relax into my parenting and notice the moments as they happen.
The Baby Hobbit will always be the “surprise” baby….the one we didn’t see coming….the one we kind-of….(okay, totally)….didn’t want.
But she will also be the Hobbit that I have always enjoyed the most.