There are times I feel overwhelmed and frazzled, a bit discouraged by the often monotonous flow of my life these days. Worn thin by the constant holding and soothing of a certain little teething toddler. Wondering if I'll ever become reacquainted with real sleep, with nights out with friends, with solo travel.....
(If you are a mother, this is all familiar to you, I know. I know I'm not alone.)
And then I feel a little guilty. Ashamed, even. How can I feel sorry for myself when my life is so full of love and blessings and beauty? When there are so many out there with very real problems and very harsh realities and a notable lack of love, blessings and beauty in their lives?
Of course our lives feel difficult and challenging at times, blessed and rich though they are. Of course those difficulties and challenges may seem to pale in comparison to those faced by others. But that's life. We know our own lives more intimately than any others and so we are knocked off balance by our frustrations and our trials. And that's alright. It doesn't make us shallow. It doesn't make us ungrateful. It doesn't mean that we don't feel for those out there who are experiencing harder times. It simply means that we are human.
Yep, human. Thinkers. Feelers. Over-analyzers. And so on.
And then there are days (many of them, the majority of them) that I feel overwhelmed with gratitude and wonder how I am so lucky to have that (very same) monotony. The reliable, somewhat predictable flow of my days at this point in my life. I remember that I chose this. That we chose this. That my days will not always be so predictable and full of so much and of nothing at the same time. That I had better count my blessings for the great gift of being able to be here, where I am, right now. And that of course, OF COURSE, I will know sleep again. And here's revelation number one: I will know so many things again that I have at times worried have been lost forever. And I will treasure them even more. The parts of me that survive these early years of motherhood, that resurface when given sufficient breathing room and whatever else it is that they require to thrive, will be the parts that are so truly me that it would have been impossible to lose them. Other parts will not survive, and that's okay. They will be the parts that weren't meant to continue on down this path.
It took me some time to look at it that way instead of just worrying about whether or not I'd be able to salvage all of it, all of "me". I realize now that it's all part of my growth. As a mother. As a woman. As a person. As my self. We grow, we change, we stay the same... we hold onto what we want to and let go of what we need to, sometimes thinking it's happening to us, but mostly, I think, it's by choice.
So here I am. In many ways the same as I was before entering into motherhood, in many ways changed.
And right here, now, is when it's really sinking in that she is growing up. Relatively, of course.
I am fiercely, head-over-heels smitten with this little love of mine lately. Of course I always love her and always find joy in watching her figure out this world bit by bit.... how to negotiate it, how to just be in it. But lately, my goodness, I am just amazed by her. I think in this place we are now, in this stage of being so palpably on the brink of so many things, so many changes, so much growth.... I am sensing the passage of time more than I have before during her 16 1/2 months of being out here in the world. I know everyone says it goes by so fast. And surely, it does. Yet when I think back over the time we have shared together thus far it pleases me immensely to feel like many things do in fact seem like they happened a long time ago. In a way I feel like I was just childless, just pregnant. But in so many other ways, I feel like it was ages ago that we were working out our nursing troubles, dealing with her hernia surgery, watching her learn to roll over, to crawl, to laugh..... So very much has happened and though I mourn at times the passing of her babyhood, I also feel like we lived in it so fully and truly that it has become a part of us. As if I've absorbed into my bones that newborn smell, those early sleeping grins and even (of course) the draining, restless nights. Realizing that makes me hopeful that this is how it will be as we go through life with her. That each stage, in all of it's beauty and it's trials, will become a part of my being in a way that I will never ever forget about it or lose it. And I think "So this is how we do it. This is how mothers go on watching their children grow without an overwhelming sense of sorrow and loss. This is why and how we can welcome each new stage and delight in what is to come."
That was revelation number two. That I can indeed delight in her growing up and not just stare backwards sadly holding onto those tiny little feet and tiny little fingers and helpless little self.
Thank goodness. Because she certainly doesn't seem to have plans of slowing down anytime soon.