One I wear, one that rides in the stroller, one that walks (or bikes) alongside.
I can imagine getting on and off the bus with three of them. The looks. The thoughts that I have my hands full – as if it’s a bad thing.
I don’t like the idea of being the frazzled mom with more kids than she has hands. I don’t like the thought of being looked at like I can’t take what I’ve dished out. I don’t like to imagine the annoyance of people whose way we happen to get in as we trudge down the street, examining sticks, stopping mid-stride to tell stories, or wandering unaccountably from one side of the sidewalk to the other.
But I take comfort from a conversation I had with Manchild recently. It was the one in which he said, “I’m in the stage where I like to ask a lot of questions.”
“Oh, is that the stage you’re in?” I asked, amused at his phraseology.
“Yeah, it’s just the stage I’m in.”
It’s just the stage I am in. I am in the birthing stage. The stage where I have all my children, and they grow and learn together. They hit and fight and apologize and make up. I chase them and carry them and pick them up when they need me to. We take up the whole sidewalk as we walk down it, and we’re often slow as we do it.
But it’s just the stage that we’re in. We’ll stop having kids and they’ll get bigger. And suddenly having 3 (or 4, or 5) won’t seem like a lot. It won’t seem like I have my hands (too) full. It won’t cause me stress to take all of them out somewhere by myself.
Because this is just a stage. And it will end.
And when I’m past this stage, I’ll look back on it differently. I’ll remember the people who helped me through it. The ones who called to me from their stoops as I walked by with the boys, “A girl this time? God bless you.” The ones who helped me up and down the subway stairs with my children and stroller and bags. The ones who gave up seats on the train and found my small children amusing rather than annoying.
I’ll miss this stage, I’m sure. But I’ll still be grateful that it is just a stage.