Love Your Now

Our youngest is seven and the next oldest kid is 13, then 17, and 19. Liam is a child of the Big Gap. 

I jokingly tell people that it’s like he’s been raised by a pack of wolves.

 I’m only half joking.

Liam doesn’t talk like some seven year olds. He’s picked up on his older sibling’s speech patterns and says charming things like, “What the crap?” and “What up, boieeee?” He refers to all people as dudes, knows what twerking is, and hands out sarcasm like a pro.

The sarcasm thing may not be the fault of the teenagers.

This sweet little boy of mine enjoys Curious George, yes, but when he was three Gollum was his favorite character.  When we’re doing our annual once a year family photo Liam yells “photobomb” just before the shutter clicks.  No matter how many takes we do he is always caught  jumping Superman style in front of everyone, tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth,  eyes crossed.

Most last-borns tend to have big personalities.

Our Liam definitely has charisma.

See? Charisma.

That Big Gap means that I sometimes scoot him along with the others, forgetting that he is not just small but also young. I kid that he never got to nap in his own bed, but it’s not much of a joke. He learned to sleep anywhere as a baby.

Now that he’s older I have to put effort into providing him similar childhood memories as his siblings. My three older ones played with each other constantly, always outside. 

Liam has no close-in-age sibling to pal around with in the back yard, though. I will say he’s extremely adept at playing alone. As long as one of us is close he’s pretty content to do his own thing.

One thing I’ve noticed about him, though, is that he loves one on one time with each of us. He’ll take time each week to visit his sisters in their room, hanging out and chatting about Minecraft.

Always Minecraft, endless conversations about Minecraft.

He and I go on a walk every morning and we just talk. I love talking to this kid. It reminds me of when the others were young, when we spent our days talking with each other.  He has a thing he likes to do with each family member, too. Liam and Kiley watch movies together. Liam and Laurel go to the park. Liam and Spencer wrestle (then fight). Liam and Dad do things that Mom says no to. Liam and Mimi find stuff on YouTube. Liam and Grandad go to stores together. Liam and Mom do all the things.

 


 

Sometimes Liam asks me for a brother who is his age. Actually, he asks me for a twin and doesn’t get it when I tell him it’s too late for that.

I feel kind of bad when he asks for a sibling.

Our family looks the way it looks, though, and there’s no changing it. Plus, I love getting him all to myself.  When the older kids are out doing their young adult thing he and I get to do 7 year old stuff. 

The feel of his still-small hand in mine, the weight of his body on my lap, and the grassy smell of his hair anchor me in the present. He reminds me not to take parenting teenagers too seriously. Liam makes me realize how little my others were at that age. I didn’t know that then.

I thought they were so big.

To the mom that I was then, they were. The mom that I am now, though, sees 7 as very little. Perspective literally makes you a different parent, a different person. 

That’s okay.

Sometimes I feel badly that my older two didn’t get this chilled out version of me. The me that let Liam dye his hair green this summer. The me that  doesn’t care that some of my people  (boy people) wear the same clothes for more days than I think is healthy.  The me that’s okay with where we’re at in life tells the ghost of my past self to pipe down.

Her days are done.

I can honestly say that each of my kids got the best version of me that I could offer.

That’s all we can each do.

I find that I love having a big gap between my three kids and my last born. I will admit that every now and then I find myself wondering what it would be like if Liam had a sibling close in age to him.

But he doesn’t, so there.

What he does have, though, is a family that loves him very, very much. My older kids share stories with Liam of tickling his belly during diaper changes, rocking him to sleep, watching him learn how to walk, and seeing him fall asleep in his highchair. He loves hearing those stories. 

Those stories remind him that he’s always been ours.

Now that they’re all getting older I’m finally experiencing Liam as all mine, just a little.

I love that dabbing, pop-culture savvy Big Gap Child of mine. He reminds me that everything turns out the way that it’s supposed to be. Liam reminds me to love right now.

I asked for a serious face. I sure got one.

 

Every day I seem to be learning the lesson of loving where I’ve landed. Every day I seem to be learning to let go of plans and pictures. Every day I get a chance to embrace the amazingness of now, with  my big (semi-adult) kids and my big gap child, my hubby, my parents, my brothers, the sky that always astounds me, and the grass that feels wonderful beneath my bare feet.

Be brave, misfits, and love your now.

 

 

 

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Raised by wolves

When my oldest three were little I held dance parties in the living room as way for them, and me,  to blow off steam. I would turn the music up loud and we’d dance and shout until we were panting for air. Sometimes we’d have freeze dance parties if we were bored with the regular kind. I would turn the volume down on the radio and the kids would have to hold whatever position for however long I kept the volume down.

We had all the fun.

My youngest guy, Liam,  is 6 and I still want to do those fun things with him. I want him to have all the things my older ones did. I don’t want him to miss out on anything. Today I asked my 15 (almost 16, MOM!) year old daughter and 12 year old son to help me have a dance party. That may have been a mistake. It may have also been a mistake to hold this dance party in my bed. The thing is I’m older and more tired than when the first three were little. I wanted to have a dance party on my behind. In my bed. With a cup of coffee.

Now that I write this I realize that may have been my mistake.

Any time I invite Laurel and Spencer to do anything I’m inviting a certain level of chaos. These two love  to take things to the next level.

Things went well at first. We were doing the funky arm moves, getting some decent air time even though I’ve significantly restricted the jump zone. Then Liam moved with lightening speed to the end of the bed and launched a perfect belly flop in the center. I gave him a little leeway because he’s six and they need that. The other two, though, took my clapping and leeway-giving as their chance to up the ante. Spencer, who has not yet come to terms with the fact that he’s an adult-sized person, also catapulted himself across the bed. His bounce yielded several smaller bounces for Laurel and I. Just as I saved myself from toppling over the edge I heard Liam shout, “Cannonball!” and could only watch in silent amazement as he tried to drag his sister down.

I had entered the next level without signing up for it.

The next few minutes involved me boomeranging between please-this-is-not-how-dance-parties- are-supposed-to-go and laughing til I cried.

Thoughts happen really fast, you know? During the madness taking place in my bed I had time to think about the fact that my youngest child never got to love Elmo madly. Instead he chose Batman. It wasn’t Barney that he wanted played on repeat, it was Lord of the Rings. My littlest guy doesn’t know any words to The Wiggles songs but by golly he knew the words to The Phantom of the Opera by the time he was four. Sometimes I feel badly that he doesn’t have siblings his age to play with, or that I don’t do circle time in the mornings anymore , or that when he is indignant he shouts, “What the crap?”  (a very teenagery thing to say, you must admit).

 

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It’s like he’s been raised by wolves.

I snap out of my 7 second contemplation because phrases like ‘frank and beans’ and ‘I can’t breathe’ were being shouted by my children. What I see is that they are having a blast, the music is still going strong, and Liam doesn’t know any different.

His three older siblings are way better than Elmo, hands down.

They are nice wolves, after all, fixing him peanut butter jellies and giving him snuggles when necessary.

Today I conceded that things are the way that they are.

Then I did what needed to be done:  I pants-ed one of my kids.