A few days ago, I came inside from a walk with the children and started cooking dinner. Kathleen and Sophia were cold from the walk so they went upstairs and started a bath for themselves. Edwin decided the idea wasn't half bad and trailed after them. Joseph played quietly by himself, wandering around the house pulling things from drawers and playing with them while I chopped and sautéed onions for black beans and rice.
Nobody crawled up my leg. I didn't have any helpers standing in front of every drawer and cupboard that contained necessary ingredients. Joseph's tired/hungry screaming didn't fight for attention over Kathleen and Edwin's squabbling.
I just cooked dinner, set the table, and then took Joseph upstairs for a bath - one thing at a time. It was like magic.
Having multiple children engages one in a constant state of forgetting. You go through various stages with your first child and then forget what they were like and that those stages even exist by the time you get to your second. The same thing happens for the third, and the fourth. It's kind of like a bad version of Groundhog Day where Bill Murray wakes up every morning with a case of amnesia.
And so every time I've forgotten about this magical phase in my life where my youngest child is old enough to amuse themselves quietly and I don't have another baby yet to play the ticking time bomb that could go off at any minute.
It's probably during this time that I fool myself into thinking that I could handle another child, no problem. But this stage is so nice - and it just keeps getting nicer the older my oldest one gets. The other day we went somewhere and were out during Joseph's nap time - and he didn't dissolve into a puddle of crying baby because he missed his nap. If we are at a friend's house for dinner, I don't start frantically making kill motions to Brandon the second it's past Joseph's bed time. And best of all, he can spend significant portions of time wandering around the house amusing himself by making messes.
As cute and squishy as little babies are (and they really are), life is just so much more live-able when they reach the magical self-propelled stage. I can stop holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop and breathe normally again. It's fantastic.
And those other stages coming up - like potty training? I've already forgotten them again, so please don't remind me. I'm enjoying the peace for a few precious moments.