I honestly and truly thought we'd outgrown this phase by now.
By "we," I mean the collective that encompasses myself and my three sons, ages 6, 4 and 2. I remember reading somewhere, probably on Diply or Buzzfeed or HuffPo, all super-reliable parenting resources, about how intense mother-son relationships could be but I never really gave it much thought until I had three of my own sons, each growing into their own, struggling with their desires for unrealistic independence, like wanting to use steak knives and cross the street without holding hands and cutting their own hair while desperately wanting me and only me to rub their backs before bed, cut up their dinner, buckle and unbuckle their car seats and in the 4 and under crowd, wipe their butts.
Yes, I still wipe my 4-year old's butt and the truth is, it's much better than the alternative of letting somebody with a short attention span and T-Rex-sized arms do a reach around in your newly cleaned bathroom with its illogical white shag bath mats and over-sized bath towels.
The truth is, it's really, really hard when you're the only one for the job. I move through most of my days feeling stretched all too thin tending to their emotional and physical needs. My husband, bless his heart, tries to fix things in only the way that the greatest of husbands can, by gently reminding me that in about 10 years, they'll want nothing to do with me and I'll just be that embarrassing mom who does too much and loves too hard. It's then that I'll want to grab them by their brawny shoulders and shake them all while saying things like, "You used to cry for me to wipe your butts!"
Sometimes I think to myself, "It's your own fault. You did this!" because the truth is, I'm the only one who knows how the baby likes his pillows arranged at bed time and I'm the only one who knows who likes the crust cut off their peanut butter sammiches and who will lost their shit if you cut it in half on the diagonal rather than down the middle. I'm the only one who puts the special cream (Aquaphor) on their chapped hands at night and covers them with the right fuzzy socks. It's me who lays out their school uniforms in just the right place on their dressers and I'm the one who knows how to rub their backs light enough to soothe but not too light that it sends them into fits of tickle-induced laughter. I do the different voices while reading bedtime books and that automatically makes me the Official and Only Reader of Bedtime Stories Ever. Apparently I'm also the most adept at wiping butts because clearly I'm the only one who knows how to fold the toilet paper.
I can't remember the last time my husband changed my two year old's diaper or hoisted him out of the bath tub and not because my husband hasn't tried or offered. He's a fantastic Dad and an incredible teammate on Team Parenthood, although I'm sure there were more than a few diapers he was more than happy to not be a part of. While I'm sure there are better ways to deal with our 2-year-old's irrational demands, rather than hear him scream bloody murder while he thrashes about in the bathtub threatening to break a leg and completely ruin my Friday night by an unexpected ER visit, it's easier to trudge upstairs, wrap him in a towel and hoist him out of the damn bath tub.
This season of motherhood feels like an endless string of asking little people to put on or clean up their shoes while simultaneously being interrupted every 11 seconds because someone hit someone, breathed in their general direction or bent the corner of their beloved Pokemon card. Sprinkle in several hundred "MOOOOOOOOOOOOOMs" shouted from the tops of lungs, five collective hours spent chauffeuring little people around in a car and there's my day in a nutshell.
While my days of feeling like a 24-hr. milk buffet are long behind me and I've slept through the night more times in the last two months than I haven't, I've entered into a whole new season of motherhood and it's kind of annoying. There, I said it. I love my kids so much that I often want to squeeze them until their little heads pop off but I am not nearly as cool and amazing and magical as they think I am. Their Dad is just as amazing at wiping butts and rubbing backs and squirting ketchup onto their plates as I am. Trust me on this one.
I know. I know in five years I could come back here and write a post through tears about how I miss the days when my kids needed me, their little hands reaching out for me, for just one more kiss, one more back scratch, one more story and there's a good chance I might even come back here to write that post, maybe even sooner than that- but sometimes?
Sometimes it's really difficult to be the only one for the job.