I was going through some of my One Vignette archives (truth: I was on Facebook and the essay popped up as one my “memories.” Guilty as charged, your honor) and found a post from two years ago. I’ve posted the link below, because I just have to re-share it with you. It was just two years ago: so much has changed since then. I miss so badly that state of being the new mom with the baby: I knew I was in the thick of it, I knew I was still learning–and how neccessary it was to forgive myself or be forgiven because of that–and as exhausted as I was and tired and overwhelmed, I also knew, in the very back reaches of my head (the parts that hadn’t been affected yet by the sleep deprivation, I mean) that the time is so precious and fast.
I don’t miss the breastfeeding. Do I miss the quiet and the bonding and the time to myself? Oh, Lordy, yes. But I don’t miss the breastfeeding. I don’t miss the nursing tank tops or the plugged ducts or the hormonal crazy (not that too much has changed there [hey-oh!]). I don’t miss the pressure of being the only one who could do this one, constant job. And if I never see another tube of Lansinoh (bless that little purple miracle) again, well. I’ll be okay with that.
I don’t miss the poopy blow-outs.
I don’t miss that feeling of not knowing what to expect at any moment, other than guaranteed chaos. I mean, stuff still happens. You know my post from Tuesday? The one where I calmly detailed my plans for the afternoon? What you don’t know is that as soon as I hit “publish” on that post, Cian fell over a bunch of blocks, came to me crying in horrible pain with his arm hanging down at his side (was it broken? sprained? dislocated? I SAW BRUISING), and the next few hours were a flurry of doctor’s calls, crying children, worried parents, cancelled plans and school pick up….only to have Cian pop off of the couch five minutes before we were supposed to leave for the pediatrician’s office with his arm intact and perfectly usable. He spent the rest of the afternoon playing soccer in the backyard with his sisters. And I poured a glass of wine a little earlier than I’d usually do.
Life still throws the crazy our way, of course. It’s just what life does, and you have to trudge through it with a wish and a prayer and the knowledge that you eventually will get to the other side, even if the trek to get there is akin to something involving hellfire and brimstone. There’s the big stuff. There’s the little stuff (oh, like, say, just as all of the children were in various states of naked, and tooth brushing, and bath-taking, Riley taking a giant wee on the family room carpet just as I was walking out the door to meet with my book club. Stuff like that). But it doesn’t seem so hazy now that the kids are older. Are there days we just need to get through? Hells, yeah. But it’s different. It’s just. Different. At dinner last night I was asking the kiddos about the favorite parts of their day. Their responses were expected, like “recess” and “gym class.” But when the girls asked David what his favorite part of the day had been, he was like, “Um. When I get to go to bed tonight.” They looked at him liked he’d grown five heads.
Life. It’s crazy, what with all the trudging.
My to-do list these days isn’t a bullet-pointed series of tasks anymore: I now allot hours instead of specific jobs. Write for three hours. Return emails for a half hour. One hour for making calls and the household paperwork. Doing it that way takes the pressure off for me. I’m a working full-time mom, which is the most contradictory thing in the world, and I’m finally–finally! Seven years later!–realizing that it’s okay if I don’t do it all at once. It’s all right if I show up at my friend’s house to meet with my book club in a ponytail and my glasses instead of getting dolled up. It’s all right if I didn’t go to the gym for the 50 billionth time in a row, but took the dog for a long walk instead. It’s okay if I respond to emails for thirty minutes instead of thirty actual emails (or something like that. They just keep coming!).
I had a point, here, but it’s taking me forever to get to it (and I did not allow time for the blogging today. Oh, the trudging!). I think it’s this: I read that post from two years ago, the one about life with an infant, and feel grateful. Grateful, to tell you the truth, that I’m past it. As I type this, I’m watching Cian, who’s wiggling his little bare toes as he watches Daniel Tiger. I miss being able to pick him up to cradle him. And I know that it won’t be much longer before he doesn’t want to crawl onto my lap so I can hug his hurt away when he falls on an arm. But then I look at my girls: my beautiful, smart, interesting school-aged girls, and think that I’m glad we’re here, too.
That post from two years ago is called From the Trenches, circa November 5, 2013, and you can find it here. We don’t have any control over any of it, this life stuff–we all know that. But it is sort of nice to realize once in a while that we survived that, so we can get through this.
Especially when both times are pretty darned special, whether we’re through the other side of them yet or not.