Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Will I Be Okay?

I had a moment of panic today.  As I, exhausted and recovering from a stomach flu, chased little sister around the Parks and Rec Senior Center during big sister’s ballet class, I was hit with one of those quick flash forward visions into the future.  A future that is seemingly far away, but it made my heart race and my vision blur for a moment. 

There is a sweet old woman who sits at the desk at the front of the Senior Center.  I’m not sure what her job is exactly, but she sits there, quietly and pleasantly.  As little sister and I passed her desk for the tenth time this morning, the woman made eye contact with her and said “Well hello there!” I gave a tired smile, little sister just kept walking, old woman pulled out a cell phone and began scrolling. 

And I wondered, does she miss this stage of life?  All its exhaustion and joy, does she miss it? Or does she look at me and feel relief that she’s well out of the marathon?

Then I wondered; does she have kids? Grandkids? Do they visit? Do they live close? Does she see them regularly? Does she just go home to an empty house?

Cue heart racing panic.

I will be “the old woman” someday. My children will be grown and out of my house. No more messes, no more tantrums before bed, no more needy whines to be picked up, --- no more snuggles, no more asking to be read to, no more “Moooommmmmmyyyyyyyyy!” called throughout the house. 

And I just sort of panicked.  When I think of myself, I identify as a mom. An always needed mom.  They are my world, and I need them too.  Who will I be when they are grown, strong, sufficient adults? This sounds unhealthy, I know that. I have other interests, but none I’ve been able to pursue fully because THEY are my life right now. 

And then I wondered; will I be happy? Will they visit? Will they live close? Will I be ok without them?

My days (and nights) consist of constantly thinking, and worrying, and planning; meals, outfits, schedules, activities, counting screen time, staying calm, coming up with solutions, balancing, balancing, balancing.   And sometimes, it gets the best of me, there are days that I. Am. So. Done. by like 2:00.

But I love it.

And truthfully, it scares me to think of my life someday without them always there. Without the need for the constant thoughts and planning. What if they don’t live close? What if I don’t get to watch my grandbabies? Because watching my grandbabies was the only way I slowed the heart today. 

I mean, I have plans.  A Master’s Degree, a career working with children in some very meaningful capacity. I have hopes that these plans will be fulfilling in other ways. . . . someday.  But I don’t know for sure.

Tonight as I rocked little sister to sleep, after a very whiny and clingy day from her, I remembered my vision this morning.  And after she fell asleep, I rocked her a little longer, traced the lines of her chubby little face and whispered sweet nothings into her ear.

These girls have my heart wrapped up so tightly, that sometimes it’s hard to breathe. I can’t truly envision the day when I’m not running around after them like a crazed chicken. And it scares me to think that day will come.

So again, I have to remind myself that this is it.  These little moments, they won’t come back.  Even the tough ones.

And I’ll probably be ok – if the Master’s Degree plan doesn’t pan out, I’ll become a crochet master in my old age, crocheting and custom fitting little baby booties on tiny feet.  That will hold me over until the grandbabies visit.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

Today is Mother’s Day, a day I very much look forward to.  Not for presents or grand gestures, but simply for the fact that I am able to celebrate it as a mother.  I get to spend time with my own mama and the two girls who made me a mama.  I also forgo diaper changes and food preparation for the day, that part feels like a spa day. 

Today is the one day a year that there’s a little extra recognition for a role that is often a thankless one – I’m not dismissing the billions of silent thankful rewards that come with motherhood.  But it is one day where I feel a little special, and slightly entitled, if I’m being honest.  I don’t feel guilty for not vacuuming today, or lazing in the sunshine.  

I woke this morning after husband let me sleep in, with the little excited butterflies that come with anticipation and expectation.  I knew big sister had worked on something in her preschool class for me and had carefully hidden it somewhere in the house. Her first school project gift for mom.  Any mention of Mother’s Day the past few days resulted in her whispering “Shhhh! It’s a surprise!” which gave me special little fluttery feelings. 

The morning started out fine enough; big sister wished me a Happy Mother’s Day with no prompting, which I found so endearing.  I poured a hot cup of coffee and sat on the couch, surrounded by my littles and a few gifts.  Big sister is a veeerrryy good helper when it comes to present opening, so she went to work right away.  And then -- upon my suggestion that we let baby sister help too, the blissful moment was over. A 4 year old tantrum ensued; flailing limbs, gifts thrown, screaming and tears.  It was lovely. 

I carried sister to her room to calm down, at which time baby sister dumped my hot coffee off the windowsill and down the back of the couch. And among the screaming tantrum, and the coffee stain, I just felt so – done. I felt this frustration and disappoint well up inside me and I knew I needed out. I wanted to have a tantrum, I wanted to scream IT’S MOTHER’S DAY! But because I’m an adult, I took a fresh cup of coffee out on the porch and breathed.  Deep, calming breaths.

However, not twenty seconds later, the whole family joined me on the porch.  One thing I've learned in my short four year duration as a mother, is that we have to be gracious with ourselves.  I felt feelings bubbling inside, and although I could not quite place them, I knew they needed to be acknowledged.

So I snuck to the bathroom, locked the door, and had a little cry.  I felt disappointed that the morning had begun this way, but I also felt upset with myself for going into today with such high expectations.  Did I think today would just be smooth sailing? That my small people would suddenly understand how to process their feelings and emotions in a mature way just because it was Mother’s Day?

Mother’s Day doesn't mean that kids aren't going to act like kids.  It doesn't mean I don’t get to stop being Mom.  It’s because of these little hooligans that I get to celebrate this day at all, that I go into it with a deluded sense of entitlement and anticipation. If I wanted a day of peace, I could take the day to myself – go somewhere, pamper away. But the truth is, I want to spend the day with them.  And if that means I don’t get out of every dirty diaper, that I have to calm a hysterical daughter because she’s emotional and head strong (I have no idea where she inherited these traits) and can’t process her feelings yet– if it means that I have to escape to the smallest room of the house and lock the door so I can cry for just a moment, then I’ll take it.

 Because that’s the beauty of it.  Today is special because of them. I love today, because of them. Bring on the tantrums baby, Mama is here for you, always.

 Happy Mother’s Day. Be gracious, not only with the small people, but with yourself.

And when all else fails, a dance party will fix anything.

^ note the coffee stained belly.

And if for some reason that doesn't do the trick, husband made sure I’m well stocked and able to eat my feelings.