I am so grateful for my stretch marks.
Because they delineate every kick, every roll, every stretch and every bout of intestinal-pummeling that my babies enjoyed while growing round and fat in my belly. And not every woman I know is lucky enough to have mama-stretch marks.
I am so very lucky, knowing that my sleep is never guaranteed. That a huge proportion of my day is spent comforting hurts, breaking up squabbles, and helping a frustrated three-year-old put her princess dress on without appearing to help.
Because even during the night, I am the one they want. When they are hurt, distressed, angry, upset, bewildered...no matter what the problem, I am the one they rely on to fix it. They have not yet realised that I do not have magical powers, and there are problems I cannot fix. At this time, I am still Mummy, who can kiss it and make it better. And there will come a day when I shall yearn for a frustrated three-year-old. Just as many of my friends do.
When they are happy, oh my. When my children are happy (which is most of the time), I am the one who basks in their sunshine. I am the one they run to, to show new tricks and ballet steps. I am the one they insist on telling the stories of their day. I am the lucky, lucky one to be deluged in hugs and kisses, even if my absence has been for a trip to Woolworths without them. It is never lost on me, how blessed I am that they are mine.
I am so fortunate to have nappies and baby wipes stuffed in every bag; to never, ever have enough food in the cupboard; to have a floor that is perpetually covered in jigsaw pieces and random bits of Iron Man.
Because being a Mum is all I ever wanted to do. And I was so, so lucky that it happened for me. I don't want to let go of nappies in a hurry. It distresses me enough that the Mouse won't sit in her pram. I love the fact that Jack is growing so fast he eats me out of house and home. I fed him with my body until he had jowls that reached his shoulders. Now, all I can do is pile his bowl high with Weetbix and be joyful that he still has such a wonderful appetite. And even though Phoebe is still the slowest eater in the world, we have some lovely conversations while she is (not) eating. Her five-year-old self is, quite simply, freckled exquisiteness. If I could bottle her sweetness right now, I would. Because I cannot quite believe my luck that she is sitting there, taking an hour to eat her lunch. And she is all mine.
One day, my house will stay tidy when I clean it. There won't be hobby horses left strewn on the stairs, or Barbie lying naked in the hall; there won't be stray shoes and Lego and dolly tea-parties left underneath the groaning clothes-horse. I know how fortunate I am to have such a messy house.
The thing is, no matter how tired or messy or shouty I get, I am always aware of how fleeting this time is. How my children will be grown-up in the blink of an eye. And how I am forever grateful to be blessed with them, regardless of how many tiny bits of toys I stand on with bare feet, or how many poos I clean off the carpet (yes, true - but that's another story). I am already smiling at the knowledge that my sleep will be interrupted tonight by little footsteps running into my room. I know this, because it is raining. And the Mouse will, without fail, come into me at around 2am to tell me it is "rainding" and that she doesn't like it. And I will need to carry her back to bed, and cuddle her to sleep. This is something that will exhaust me, and no doubt frustrate me at 2am. But it is me she wants and needs, and it is me she will get. Because I want her, one day, to be a grown-up girl who knows her Mummy has always been there for her, no matter what. And that being her Mummy is the most amazing thing I could ever have hoped for.
And I am eternally grateful to my own mother, who not only went through all of this with my brother and sister and I, but is still here and smiling (and grandmothering my own kids!). Not all of my friends have their mums, for many and varied reasons. I nearly lost mine. I think about this every day, and on Mothers Day...I know how lucky I am. So very, very lucky.
Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers out there; all the grandmothers, the aunties, the mums-to-be, the should-be mothers, the adoptive mums, the foster mums, the stand-in mums, the teachers who love their students as their own, the childcarers who pour love into every child who passes them and the women who love the children in their lives regardless of whether they belong to each other or not. Mothers Day can be both very lovely, and very bittersweet. For me, it's a day to commemorate the loving women in our lives. Everyone has those. So Happy Mothering Day, one and all. Regardless of your stretch mark status :)