Someone told us we have two doorsteps and a cliff, and there are days it feels like that for sure! Before Perry came along, although we were busy, we had a routine with our older boys. There were seasons of practices and games or performances, but there was also downtime between their activities. I drove back and forth to town quite a lot, but while waiting until time to pick them up, I could pick up groceries, go to the gym, or even catch up on some reading!
People always ask me what it’s like having a baby at my age or with such a big difference in my boys’ ages. Just to remind you, Chris and I are 40, Seth is 15, Caleb is 12, and Perry is 11 months. Chris says this year we’re learning how to drive and learning how to walk! Throw in navigating middle school, and life is a bit chaotic right now, to say the least!
The boys and their activities haven’t stopped (nor do we want them to), but now I’m also hauling Perry back and forth with us. He’s quite a trooper, enduring long car rides, or just multiple short ones. He seems to enjoy sitting through concerts and football games to hear his brothers play in the band. He especially loves riding in his little red wagon at tennis and soccer matches to see his brothers play, or at baseball games we’ve attended to support our high school team!
Having a baby at my age in our super busy family continues to be quite an adjustment for all of us. My brain is in a consistently foggy state. With so much more to keep up with, I’m constantly looking for something, usually a pacifier for Perry or a form for one of the big boys. I have had a hard time knowing who needs to be where and at what time. I am grateful that we all have the same calendar on our phones so that the boys and Chris can add to it, and I will know what’s going on (and vice versa)!
Not only is my brain having a hard time keeping up, so is my body! I’ve never been super fit or enjoyed exercise, but over the last few years, I had made a pretty good habit of going to the gym 2-3 times a week. Perry usually sleeps through the night now, but if I start thinking maybe I can get back in the habit of going to the gym early in the mornings, he will wake up at least once wanting a bottle in the middle of the night.
As a matter of fact, every time I start to think I have a handle on things, something always happens to throw off our schedule. Somebody gets sick, or Perry doesn’t sleep through the night, or Chris has an out of town trip, or I have to take my Daddy to the doctor. Wherever I go, I’m always late, which has always been a problem, but is even worse now; it just takes so much time and preparation to get out the door with a baby!
Throw in the normal worries and frustrations of any mother of a baby - Am I feeding him enough, or is he eating too much? Are we reading to him enough, or is the TV on too much? Does he get enough interaction with other kids, but what germs am I exposing him to when he's around other kids? - it’s enough to drive anybody crazy!
Strangely enough, in some ways my age is actually a benefit. Things that may have sent me into a tailspin when Seth and Caleb were little, now just make me laugh. I know that spinning the toilet paper off the roll, and pulling everything out of the kitchen cabinets is just a phase. So many things I’ve learned to say, “This, too, shall pass.”
As crazy, hectic, and overwhelming as my life is right now, though, I just have to make myself stop and take a breath. Sometimes, I just sit and hold Perry when he's tired or sleeping and smell his hair and take in all that sweet baby smell. I kiss his soft cheeks and nose and just enjoy the time that I have with him. Unfortunately, I know that "this, too, shall pass." I remember when my big boys would fit in my lap, and I could do the same thing with them. Of course, every now and then, they’ll pile up in my lap too, and we laugh hysterically, but they just don’t smell the same.
I know how quickly this time is passing by. I only have three more years of having Seth at home, and only six more with Caleb. I’m not always good at it, but I really try to spend time with each of them individually, because I want them to feel loved and never left out. We also do some crazy things to try to build memories all together, like dressing up for Halloween or the Paulk Christmas party every year! I even managed to find matching pajamas for last Christmas, which Seth didn't think I could do!
Perry obviously takes up a lot of my time and energy right now, and sometimes I have to remind them that I did the same for them when they were his age. But, more than anything, I want all my boys to know how much they mean to me, and I want them to want to come back home to Mama when the time comes.