|Baby J’s FIRST birthday – June 2015|
At some point everyday, I think, “I want to write about (insert whatever lightbulb that just went off in my brain) today!” And I have every great intention to sit down after the girls are asleep and do so. But then bedtime takes longer than anticipated – or desired – and by the time I emerge from one of their bedrooms, I am over it. I don’t want to use my brain anymore. I want to read or watch Netflix. Or talk on the phone. Or edit images (that I’m always behind on).
In the past few months, I am finally starting to grasp what all the women who are farther down the journey into motherhood tell me all the time: “you’re going to miss this”. I have this toddler, this absolute mess of a toddler, and she crushes my heart with overwhelming love every. single. day. She also crushes my sleep, my brain, my energy, my patience, my peace and my to do list. She has these cheeks…you know the ones….they are chubby but not too chubby but super delicious and her smile is huge and contagious with her tiny crooked, half- emerged teeth. Her giggle is intoxicating and addicting. Her eyes sparkle with pure radiant joy. Her hair reminds me of Christopher Lloyd’s hair in ‘Back to the Future’. She has eye lashes for dayyyyyyys. Her little hands still have dimples just above each of her fingers. She has a tiny round Santa Claus belly and fat little knees. Her toes, oh her toes….short, chubby, constantly curled up and so kissable. I love her. Every inch of her. She’s loud and crazy, does not seem to possess any survival skills and yells everything repeatedly that she needs or wants. She wakes up somewhere between 5:30 and 6:00 every morning and I am NOT a “morning person”. She eats all. the. time. She nurses all. the. time. She’s insane and funny and happy.
|Too cool for school|
But I get it now. I am going to miss this when it’s gone. So much. I want to push ‘pause’. I want her to be a toddler for like 5 more years, at least. I want her to cuddle up with me forever. I want her to giggle like that forever. I want her to scrunch up her nose when she smiles with all her crazy baby teeth forever. I want her to have mad scientist hair forever. I am going to miss this chapter of her life so, so much when it’s gone. And I understand now how you never get it back. There is no rewind. There is no do-over. And it hurts. It’s exciting to see who she will become but it’s so painful to think these days are numbered and they expire at some point to never be redeemed again.
Motherhood is hard for me. The messes, the hubbub, the constant chatter, the never-ending questions, the crying, the stomping and slamming doors (from a FOUR YEAR OLD y’all), the food prep, the laundry, the diaper changes…..all of these things distract me from creation, from writing, from reading, from photographing, from being on time for anything, for accomplishing what I used to in a day’s length, from romance, from traveling without sweating ha, from solo coffee shop time, from shopping, from uninterrupted conversations with friends, from sleeping and from the girl I used to be. I miss her sometimes. I miss my “old life” sometimes. I miss the flexible freedom that comes with a childless life, the quiet at the end of the day. The spontaneity. Dates with cute boys. Meals fully savored without interruption.
Yet, I will have all of that back one day. But I won’t get this back….this time of babies and toddlers and small children. The innocence of youth. The imaginations of children. The playfulness and pure joy that is childhood. The ability to show them new things and watch their curiosity grow. I am starting to see glimpses of my old self….my body becoming stronger after two pregnancies and births, the time my girls spend with our nanny that gives me a break and allows my brain to think complete thoughts, some travel sans children (which is SO easy in comparison) and recently being able to communicate to my four year old my needs and wants and the understanding that comes with that age.
It’s all going so fast. Some days, I want to relive my four year old’s babyhood because I miss it so much. Other days, I long for the day she can bathe herself completely, make her own food and clean up after herself, do her own laundry, drive herself somewhere, NO CAR SEATS (I hate them so much) and all the conversations she and I will have about life, love and the pursuit of happiness in her adolescence. But in that chapter, she’s not a baby anymore; she’s not finding nourishment at my breast; she’s not snuggled up in a wrap close to my heart; she doesn’t need me (or want me) to read her a book before bed; she’s an independent free-thinking young woman and I will NEVER have her babyness back ever again. And that’s really sad to me.
All of this is really coming down hard on me right now. I read an Instagram post this week that really, really nailed how I feel. Here is an excerpt that sums it up:
“Right now, I’ve given up big chunks of myself – somewhat begrudgingly at times – in order to do this mom thing. I’m often in the background, tending to all the details. …… I give myself over to their needs and wants, stuffing away my feelings of resentment and exhaustion and frustration. I know these years are fleeting but sometimes they feel endless. I do have an identity. I do have a face. Even when it feels buried so deep down in a hold called The Past, to be dug up in The Future. The Present is beautiful. Just hard sometimes. I want to enjoy it more. I give myself pep talks, lectures. I pray. I ask that I please choose joy. Decide to give myself to this completely. To let go of the resentful bubbling just below the surface. I can still be me. This is me now. Different from The Past and The Future. But The Present me is still important. And beautiful. And fun.”
There IS some resentment for me in motherhood. It’s hard. I’ve held A LOT of jobs over the past two decades and this is – by far – the most difficult thing I’ve ever done….emotionally, mentally, physically, psychologically. Motherhood brings up your flaws and your strengths at the very same time more than anything else will. I know I am not perfect and I know a lot of days, I am not nailing this job. I know that I fail my kids on a daily basis.
I have days where I spend so much energy and thought on “The Past” or “The Future” that I don’t even realize how much of “The Present” I am missing. And that makes me sad….to think I am missing a part of life, an incredible part of life that I can’t ever come back to. Ever. On those days, I feel lost, like I lost my identity and I am floundering around frantically trying to sort out my shit. I totally give myself pep talks and try to find the joy in that day, at that moment. Sometimes there is too much crying to find the joy easily but it’s there if you really look for it. It’s there in the way I can hold a child to ease their tears and give them all they really need: my arms and my love. It’s there when you see your child exhibit sweetness and love and kindness and cooperation…things that you unknowingly taught her. It’s there when my girls hug me and love me and say “it’s okay, mama” when I have an adult meltdown. It’s there…you just have to seek it out at times.
I am only four years into this mom gig but I am starting to understand the significance of it. These years are fleeting – to use an over-used word – but they are. They fly by. So fast. I am not going to remember what my house looked like or how much laundry wasn’t folded or how many dishes were in my sink or, hell, how many photographs I edited that week! I am not going to remember how many clients I had that year or whether I made my bed every day (although it does feel good to make my bed each morning…). I am not going to remember how many meltdowns I soothed that day or how many diapers I changed. But I WILL remember her smile, her laugh, her first words, learning to ride a bike, run, swing, slide, write, read, cook….all of the things. They only happen once. And then they are gone. Forever.
So, this is what I am telling myself every day right now: for each child, you only get one pregnancy, one birth, one babyhood, one toddlerhood, one childhood. Don’t miss it. Don’t miss it because you were too busy picking up your house or building your business or reading Instagram (although Instagram is the best virtual village ever) or folding laundry or cleaning your kitchen. Don’t miss those firsts. On the days you feel resentful towards your children because they are derailing your 934,758,739,467,200 billionth idea/creation/project/job etc, remember they are only small for a short, short time. And then they are big. And then you can go back to dreaming/creating/projecting/working uninterrupted. Not to say you shouldn’t dream, create or work – ‘cause Lord knows a lot of us NEED those things to stay sane – but to find resentment when those things are not completed fully because of your children will lead you down a path of emotional destruction. At least for me that is the case. I stop seeing all the really wonderful things about my life and my job and my family. And I project that resentment onto others unfairly.
Children are amazing beings. They teach us so much. They give us so much love freely and without asking for much in return. And that truly is what makes the world go ‘round. At the end of it all, that is what is most important and where you will make the most return on your investment.