I can only hope that we are over the worst of it. I haven't nursed in over 36 hours and finally this little guy got up from a nap today and took a sippy cup of milk with outstretched arms and the kind of quick happy breaths he used to reserve for me--without having to take a distracting breather on the front porch first. I know I'll look back eventually and think that his weaning was pretty quick and easy (what's a week in the grand scheme of things?), but I will say that it felt a lot longer. And painful. That cabbage only does so much.
There have been other growing pains as well. A full rotation through the calender seems to mean that I should be back. Now my body is my own again (nearly), the baby is no long a baby, and so I should be in the swing of things. I am and I'm not. I'm not sure how much of the swing I'll ever be in with five kids. I'm pretty sure there will always be balls in the air, balls on the floor, ball I didn't even know I dropped until I tripped over them and fell on my face.
I recently had an experience with something I'm going to call the look. It isn't always a look, sometimes it's a tone or a comment or a comment I know was left unsaid. I was juggling all the back to school nonsense, from clothes to supplies to classroom open houses, and commented to a friend how overwhelming it all was. I wasn't really complaining or whining or asking for anything. Just a comment. The sort of thing any mother might say. But that was when I got the look. The look that said 'then why'd you have so many kids?'
I'm pretty sure this is something I'll get again, and the sort of thing I've probably gotten before, I just never really noticed. But now I feel it. The judgement that comes from having a large family. The eyes watching for a tantrum or a mistake so they can roll and make their assumptions. The idea that I should have it more together than any other mother...because if I slip up...well...you know...why'd I have so many?
I'm sure I'll slip up a lot. I'm sure I'll be fodder for those who care to look for it. But I also hope that I'll show more grace to others, to those who feel like me, juggling their responsibilities and doing the best they can--no matter how many kids they have. Motherhood is awesome and wonderful and challenging and exhausting and fabulous and humbling. We are all in this together.