4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.
Today on the beach I was having a moment with my newly 4 year-old daughter, Cabot. She was calling me Binky and saying, “I love you, Binky,”and then kissing me. Then I would return the favor. Back and forth. After a whole bunch of Binky-ing I hugged her and told her she was special, and that I’m glad I have her in my life.
And while this is true, it’s not something I often have the bandwidth or peace of mind (piece of mind?) to express. Our days are so busy, she whines so much, my lap is occupied with someone else or I’m distracted by schedules or dishes or imminent time outs. Who knows which distraction to choose?! But today, there was time.
So then she said something along the lines of, “Did you know you wanted baby me, Mama?” Which was a bit of a conversation stopper after our Binky love fest.
I often describe our surprising 4th child as “the dessert I did not order” because she came into our life like that, just when we were ready to say, “Check, please!” So I asked if she’d want apple pie right now on the beach and she expressed consternation. I then asked if she would like gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free apple pie and, of courses, she immediately nodded.
Then I pointed out that if I’d asked her what she’d wanted a minute ago she probably would not have even thought of apple pie. But here she was on the beach, craving apple pie. I’m not certain she was ready for the metaphor.
It’s how we got here, though. We’d worked so hard for years and years thinking we’d never have children, but then we finally had Jasper. We tried so hard again and had Mica and Reid right away. Then we spent the year worrying about how little they were, whether they could thrive, if Mica would walk, when the next diaper shipment would arrive. We couldn’t even imagine the possibility that Cabot was an option.
I told Cabot that once we knew we were having her we couldn’t have imagined not having her.
She said she knew. That daddy had said that he’d kissed me too hard and then we’d had her… Which I’m not sure directly related and was an understatement to say the least.
And so this week was the 4th birthday, the Hello Kitty party with her friends, where she took each guest by the hand and led them through the house to see the Hello Kitty cake I’d made, then led them outside to build nutritious temporary sculptures out of mini-marshmallows and toothpicks and then over to the table where they could dress or color Hello Kitty.
Four years ago we kept the early days of our pregnancy a secret. I was allowed one lifeline so I called my childhood besty. And although for a number of genetically baffling reasons we like to discern pregnancy from pregnant with child in the early days, my besty said, “Jen, I know you’re not going to want to hear this, but I have a feeling about this one. I think she’s going to be a girl and she’s going to be special. She’s going to do great things.”
Which is why childhood besty is Cabot’s godmother. And my best friend. And it’s why we say, Cabot is like the dessert we didn’t order. I mean, I probably shouldn’t have dessert. I’m full, it’s expensive, my waistline! But who doesn’t love dessert?
So cheers to the little girl who inspired, “But who doesn’t love dessert?” four short years ago. Here’s to her pre-reading and her uncanny ability to fake-sing any song, her emphatic and contagious head bobbing to every piece of music, her willingness to nap when I say nap-time or ride her bike three miles with her three older siblings when that’s the afternoon plan instead. Here’s to the little girl who will sweetly say, “No, thank you,” then “I’m allergic,” and “Does dat have dairy?” and finally, “Dats okay!” when offered first pizza, then cake and finally ice cream at every single birthday party we’ve ever attended except her own. She is the little girl people stop to admire in the grocery store, the one who will yell to the woman in the freezer aisle with no eyebrows, garish eye shadow and fake eyelashes, “I like your eyebrows! They’re boo-tiful!” and mean it.
Sometimes when you ask for less chaos or more sleep, a smaller car and more me time, life gives you apple pie. And the takeaway lesson here? Take the apple pie. Forget the voices in your head that worry and just dig in to the gooey goodness.
We can’t imagine life without her. Who doesn’t love dessert indeed.
Happy 4th birthday, Cabot!