I am smothered with children. I slide down the stairs with one who has koala wrapped herself to my chest the other has hooked his arm around my knee and slides beside me. This is my compromise. I call it our train. My three year old cried for a ride. Every once in a while he feels like he has been replaced in mommy’s arms and takes a stand for a ride down the stairs. My one year old cries because now she knows in my arms wasn’t always her place. Sometimes she will even be put down.
It’s Friday of Memorial Day weekend and husband is off for a golf weekend. Before the hate mail starts he has never taken a weekend away from us before. For my birthday he offered me the same, to take a weekend away and enjoy some of my favorite things, to revisit a sense of self without people hanging on me. It has been 16 months since my youngest was born. Though my husband often spends time on Saturday mornings with the kids I have been a nonstop source of food and comfort for 16 months. Yes, you might guess that I am tired, periodically cranky and sometimes unkept. Someday maybe I will take that trip, but today I find some satisfaction in my growth. I don’t begrudge him his adventure because my choices keep me here.
Some days it’s ridiculously hard to see the positive of being needed all day. Some days one year old cries more than giggles, nurses more than she needs to eat, demands all of my attention. Somedays three year old gets divided attention, tests me more than listens, gets my impatient correction rather than skill building inspiration. Some nights she gets up three times and he sneaks in my bed at 5AM. Some days I struggle to accept the life in which I am living. I get stuck in frustration that comes with my expectations. Like the notion that toddlers will get in the car or stay in the cart. I know better. Don’t expect that. Of course they want to explore. They are curious, learning creatures. In theory that’s beautiful. In 90 degree Virginia when one has to poop and the other has to nap- you guessed it: frustrating!
But, today I reframe because life is about perspective. I lean into the happy times not the hard tasks of being here. I focus on living the life that I’m in, not wishing away discomfort.
Life is a journey of letting go. Few things teach that more kindly than parenthood. Gone is my yoga body. It’s been replaced by the tummy my toddlers punched out. The tummy they fight over when at 6AM they huddle in my bed deciding whether they want to embrace the day or seek comfort from it. I’ll take this pudgy tummy that brings life and comforts it.
These silly legs I never did like used to run on trails for miles and miles. Now they have the power to raise both children, travel for blocks, up and over hills. I love that they can go without rest when my kids are about.
The heart that once was strong now often aches for fear and hope about their fate.
War wounds from a life well lived. Though the threats to me are less steep than those a soldier might face, we both know the value of life. We hold onto it and know that beauty often comes from the bandaged; bent but not broken.
I was offered freedom from people hanging on me. But, people do hang on me. I’m not wishing for that solitary adventure just yet. I am leaning into this one: this life changing, body battering motherhood.
Time has passed and husband is home. A summer storm comes roaring through and when it passes we walk through the forest with sun shining through it. It catches on leaves and glistens on branches. The toddlers chase each other up a hill. Two sets of perfect arms and legs just starting their adventure. I, of course, am behind with husband smiling. There is joy in this moment; on the journey we are living. I am ok with joy making its mark.