There are times when being a mother is one of the most rewarding, uplifting, and awe inspiring careers I've ever experienced - days when I just ooze gratitude for these two little beings who have been entrusted to my care for more than just a few hours. I rejoice in my role and thrill at the chance to take care of the Ankle Biters that are running around my house.

Then there's the last three weeks.

A couple of bony protrusions from the Small One's lower gum line have made each day progressively longer and each night progressively shorter for the past three weeks. She has been spectacularly unhappy. I would be too, I suppose, if my body was trying to tear itself open to allow new parts of it to be exposed.

The Large One is growing too and has been up at all hours complaining that her legs hurt and she can't sleep. This usually happens just as I got the Small One back to sleep after her three am screamfest and was about to lay my head back down on my own pillow. That's after a day of arguments and willfulness that defy logic:

"No, you can't do that."

"But I want to."

"Well, you can't."

"But I want to."

"But the answer is no."

"But I want to."

"No. Stop asking."

I WANT to!"

"I already gave you the answer, I'm not going to tell you again."


"If you say
I want to one more time you're going to have a time out."

"But I
don't want to. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!"

Why am I arguing with an irrational four year old? Because I want to.

I remember once when I was a pre-teen and driving somewhere in the car, discussing jobs and careers with my mother. I don't know how we got on the subject; I must have said something derogatory about motherhood.
I was incredibly naive and didn't know much about the world at that point in life. I can only imagine how it would have made my mother feel. Or maybe she was just trying to nip my hubris in the bud... I don't know. But she said to me, "You know, dear, being a mother is probably THE most important thing you will ever do in life." And she was right. I like my job. I feel I provide a valuable service to people most days. I love my career. I believe that what I'm involved in changes lives. I've seen it happen. But all of that pales in comparison to being someone's mother and being responsible for all the decisions that affect that person's life.

I'm sure I've said it before, but it bears repeating. I don't think I've ever done anything as difficult, time consuming, physically exhausting and thankless as being someone's mother. It's
HARD, ya'll!

There are nights when I simply can't wait for bedtime and I climb under the covers at 7:00 pm. It's sad and pathetic that I have no life but I couldn't care less if it means I get a break. When the KingofHearts was in the Air Force, one of the worst things about it was that if he hated his job (and he did), he was pretty much SOL. He couldn't improve the situation. He couldn't register a complaint. He couldn't change jobs. He couldn't even quit. So when things weren't going well, it was pretty awful. But even then, he knew that in six years his enlistment would be up and if he so desired, he could have his freedom back again. Six years is a lot shorter time to wait than eighteen (or more).

I'm not so self-pitying as to think it's any more difficult for me than it is for any other parent. In fact, I probably have it a lot easier. The Caterpillar - and The Dormouse before her are incredibly easy children, especially when I look around at some of my friends' babies. I'm just saying that even though I was pretty realistic in my expectations pre-children, it's still turned out to be... what's the phrase I'm looking for?... umm... nothing at all like I thought it would be.

We seemed to have turned a corner this weekend and I got my normally cheerful, easy going baby back for a few days. It's been lovely. She's spent her mornings grinning at me, rolling around the house on the floor, putting her head on my shoulder and I'm reminded of why I wanted to do all this over again in the first place. I guess that's how the next eighteen years will go. Some periods of blissful appreciation followed by the need to suppress the impulse to Fed Ex my children to China... and I know how much it would cost too. So I suppose I'll just enjoy it now and steel myself for the inevitable downturn that's coming. Because if you run your finger across the Caterpillar's upper gum there's another tooth threatening to come in.