When we were first married, I told my husband I wanted five kids. All boys. He looked at me like I was mad and asked "why?" I told him, "I love boys, they are so naughty."
He shook his head and said, "Only two." I told him we could compromise, with four. We are still negotiating.
Yesterday was pretty much a quintessential day with a house full of boys. It was crazy, unexpected, wierdly hilarious and wild. I loved every second of the chaos.
My morning started at exactly 7:19 when I heard Ryan howling from his room. He wasn't just whinning to be let free from his baby jail. He was howling. Without having to peek my head in, and even though it had never happened before, I instantly knew what was wrong. My mommy instincts are so finely tuned when it comes to pain cries.
I walked into the boys' room and found Ryan on the floor next to his crib. A long crimson trail of blood flooded from his ear, across his forehard and dripped down his face. I picked him up immediately to console him and then searched for the source of the blood. It took my a while to discover that he was bleeding from a gash in his forehead.
I cleaned him off, feeling 40% grossed out and 60% sympathy, and inspected the wound. It appeared to be gaping. It was smack in the middle of his forehead. And I swear I saw some fatty tissue peaking out from behind the cut. It instantly stopped bleeding with a bandaid, but to be on the safe side, I packed a quick diaper bag and rushed Ryan out to Urgent Care (where our family has been three times this year already!).
Thankfully, no stitches. The doctor said it was completely superficial. Phew, not even a glue bandaid was necessary. But we did walk out with the world's biggest bandaid. Such a brave daredevil!
Of course, as luck would have it, today we were scheduled for an outdoor photo shoot for family portraits. Turns out that getting a family of four ready (with two young boys), is much more difficult than getting a family of three ready (with one small boy). I had our outfits planned ahead for months but I guess I hadn't quite hammered out all the details. Jacob had no dress socks, so I convinced him to wear a pair of my black socks. He got quite the kick out of the fact that his socks went past his knees. Ryan did not have a single pair of clean matching socks. We improvised and hoped his pants would cover them. Jacob's brown belt clearly did not match his black shoes. Then, of course, there was Ryan's gory forehead and my gashed up kneed peeking out from beneath my dress. We were quite a sight.
At the last minute I stopped at a store and found a sweater for Jacob. It was meant to keep him warm (he kept complaining of being cold in the polo shirt I made him wear) but had the added bonus of hiding his brown unmatchy belt. Unfortunately, we did not look as put-together and coordinated as I had imagined, but you know what? That's life with two young boys. Chaotic, unkept, improvised, and a little frustrating. We definitely looked the part.
We met our wonderful photographer in Tacoma. Immediately my outgoing four year old turned into the shyest human on earth. He was stingy with smiles at first but finally warmed up after we kept insisting that he "better not smile this time!" In every other shot, Ryan was captured trying to smack his brother on the top of the head. Jacob wouldn't let go of his filthy, dirt-covered "special doggy" stuffed animal. When we posed them together for a sibling shot, they both kept falling over, while clutching each other. And then Jacob kept photo-bombing our couples shot.
Thank goodness we all had a great sense of humor! The photographer laughed at the chaos and captured the craziness in his photos. This is real life, people. This is our family. This is simply what little boys do. Thankfully, I know that there are at least a handful of great shots. And the photographer even promised to edit out Ryan's gashed forehead and my banged up, scabby knees. Phew!
After the photoshoot we took the kids out for dinner. It's not often we are all together and dressed so (mostly) nicely. We stopped at one of our favorite burger joints and, for the first time in a long time, all had a nice dinner out. I was enjoying our time together so much that I didn't even mind that Ryan kept trying to feed me every five second by thrusting his spoon into my mouth. I didn't mind having to shove my food down my throat while simultaneously pulling Ryan off the table and reminding Jacob to eat his burger and not just his fries. My husband and I were only a little irked that Jacob kept trying to blow bubbles in his milkshake causing it to spill all over the table. My husband and I didn't even mind taking turns interrupting our meal to take the kids to the bathroom and change their diapers.
As we piled into the car I looked back fondly on our day. It was chaotic. It was busy. It was frustrating at times. But we were together. As usual, the boys had filled our day with stress, worry, and frustration but these trying moments were interspersed with laugher, smiles, and candid, unplanned sweet moments. It was the absolute perfect picture of our life with two small boys.
I'm slowly learning not to view moments of frustration as black spots on the day but as opportunities to step up to the plate at this whole parenting thing and put our skills to the test. Not only do parents have to manage expectations (of their children and of themselves) but parents need to learn that the hard parts are the growing pains. They are evidence that our children are growing and learning and processing the world around them. Nothing is more wonderful than the journey of a child finding his place in the world and experiencing the unconditional love of his parents through their guidance and acceptance. And then your kid shits his pants and it's totally acceptable to scream at a wall.
I was almost tempted to ask the photographer not to edit the pictures. Almost.