We’re baking sugar cookies for Christmas. Glistening with butter and sugar I roll them out with Paige’s moral support. Carefully we chose the cookie cutters – trees, snowflakes, snowmen, little boys and mittens. We cut them out, gently place them on the cookie sheets, and bake. Roll, cut, bake. Repeat.
The little girl helping on the counter starts playing with the salt grinder. Thought to have been plastic, turns out it’s glass. And it drops, then shatters, all over the kitchen floor. Hundreds of glistening slivers mixed with crystals of sea salt.
Fynn comes running to see what the commotion is about, knowing by now to stay in dining room if he hears glass shattering in the kitchen. He knows his mama, and he knows she’s clumsy, though he’s not surprised to see his sisters wide apologetic eyes.
I react, whisking out the hand held vacuum and in no time it’s put away and in one hand is a sheet full of oven fresh cookies, and in the other is a cookie cutter ready for more action. Swift, efficient, the perfect example of what to do with the unexpected. It’s what motherhood is all about.
Three years ago I didn’t know if I could react. I was just starting out on this journey. Almost exactly three years ago I had my first day alone with my baby boy. He had come two and a half weeks early, and there was a day or two unaccounted for by visitors between Lucas going back to work and my mother coming into town. I don’t remember how many days, I’m thinking one or two – funny how that fact seems so fuzzy but the rest is so vivid. I remember sitting on the steps in our kitchen, not being able to say anything to Lucas as he prepared for his first day back to work. If I even looked remotely close to his eyes I knew the tears would have started. He kissed my head as he left, told me I’d do great,and locked the door behind him. I sat on those steps, held my head in my hands, and sobbed. Tears streaming down. I felt like I couldn’t do it alone. How could he just leave me there with such a little baby, when I had no idea what to do with a baby. Nursing was hard, we weren’t sleeping, showering alone was out of the question. How had this happened?
I wiped the tears with the back of my hand as I scaled the stairs upon hearing the baby’s cries.
Those first few days, weeks, even months were not easy. It takes time, help, and belief in yourself. And a lot of tears, from both mother and child. I remember days where Fynn would lay on my legs for hours, and I’d stare at Oprah as he slept or made little baby noises, or sucked non stop on his human pacifier. The days were long, though I look back and laugh because instead of his hour commute, Lucas walked five minutes down the road. He was home by 4:30, and could stop by on his lunch break. We were lucky. I’m thankful for his schedule back then, and when Paige was born I terrified at how far he would be from us at work, and how long it would take him to get home, and when he would get home.
But the second time is different. The fog of the early days still exists, but you know how to react. You trust yourself a little more and have the first one as living proof that yes, in fact, you can be a mother. The days go by faster, there’s still self doubt, but you don’t have the luxury of time to revel in it. If one child doesn’t need you for a second, the other does. You react. Play, clean, feed baby, feed toddler, sleep, repeat. You use stolen minutes for yourself, and don’t know how you thought you were so busy when it was just one.
We finish cutting out the last batch of cookies, carefully placing each cutter to maximize what little dough is left. To get as much out of it as we can. Like motherhood. Making do where we can, juggling the cookie cutters while reacting to the unexpected. Keeping the rolling pin moving while balancing a babe on the hip. We do. We react. It doesn’t always come naturally, but with time and love we learn.
Love. React. Love.
Always, there’s love. Even in the piecemeal schedule that is our daily life. Without it, motherhood and sugar cookies would be nothing.
I’m linking up to Emily’s Chatting at the Sky as this moment was such a gift to dive into and unwrap yesterday. Check out her site for more beautiful unwrapped moments.