My father-in-law took this picture during a recent visit. He says he loves it. I do, too. I can imagine the memories it will trigger, years from now.
When people see me awkwardly lugging around two car seats, with Sophie clinging to the one closest to the ground, I usually hear one of two things: “You have your hands full” and “I don’t know how you do it.” To the first, I reply, “Yes.” To the second, I say, “You just do.”
And that’s the thing about life. You never think you can accomplish the impossible until you have to. For example, when both of my boys are crying I often think I could never handle triplets. But if I had them, I know I would—because what other choice would I have? It’s a mentality I cling to on my more difficult days—days when I find myself saying over and over again, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t. Days when Sophie catches me rubbing my eyes out of frustration one too many times and says, “Mommy, don’t do that to your eyes. You’ll hurt them.”
That’s when I force the smile. The energy. The I-can-because-I-must attitude.
I’ve read forced laughter can make you feel better. Same with smiling. Tolstoy said, “If You want to be happy, be.” While I don’t completely agree with that, I get it. Because when I stop trying to push my eyeballs into my brain, and I pick up both boys and dance with Sophie to “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” I feel better. The children do, too. (I know because everyone stops crying.) So, you just do.
You multitask. You take phone calls while feeding your twins because you’re (almost) guaranteed a quiet conversation. You carry two carseats at one time. You tend to a crying someone in the middle of the night. You miss your favorite show because your oldest is terrified of the “eyes” (brass filigrees) in the ceiling fan. You leave for the grocery at 10:30pm. You work on freelance until 2am. You “sleep” with toddler limbs all over you. You sigh at the pile of unread fiction stacked on your bedside table. Later, I imagine, spending weekends on sidelines or in auditoriums, evenings spent doing homework, mornings that are impossibly rushed. You give in. You give up. You combine and comprise, and you just do. And ultimately, honestly, you want to. Because you love.
Freud said, “One is very crazy when in love.” So I know that’s what people mean when they say, “I don’t know how you do it.” Because it seems crazy. It looks crazy. (And, let’s be honest. Come to my house at 5 o’clock. It’s a little crazy.) But I know, for certain, anyone who has uttered that sentence to me would do the same thing, too. Because you love. So you just do. And then you take a step back, and look at all the injustices in the world, and all the blessings you have, and you’re grateful for what you can do. Because even on the worst eyeball-smushing days, you love doing what you do. And if not that, you love looking back on it, having done it, made it through it.
And I promise you I’ll look at this picture 10 years from now with deep nostalgia, longing for what’s passed, what’s no longer more.
Life’s funny that way. You just do.
“Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible.” —Marion C. Garretty