It’s easy to get stuck here.
And by here, I mean this place as a mother, as parents, as caretakers, specifically to small children. H E R E being the feeling of absolute. Of course you can arrive here without ever having children, more on that later, but for now I am, or rather have been, untangling from here.
Part of what has kept me alive for so long is my ability to forgo the future. Yes, as a person with anxiety and ADHD, I love the comfortability of structure and a plan. I certainly have the ability to be future-trippy, I can still get wrapped up in What If which is a product of living outside of our present selves, and I still leave approximately twenty minutes before what’s actually required to be on time in an effort to quell my anxiety. But I don’t venture too far. Never too many plans. A general gloss-over; I imagine it to be smearing butter with the side of a butter knife, that whatever it is, will inherently work itself out, a privilege in itself. Because of this, it is as though I simply dip my toe in but don’t quite jump. I like to touch the future and have an idea, but I’m content (mostly) on it being malleable. But what about here?
In this context, and where I have felt trapped, is this idea that these children of mine will also be here until the end of time. I will inevitably be wrestling with Scarlett’s long, thick hair post-bath, her eyes winking out tears, mine not too far behind. There will be a lump of toddler in my bed forevermore, I will never know what it’s like to have children sleep through the night. I will always gag at the discovery of a lunchbox come Monday morning that was forgotten in a backpack since Friday. Here. Of course I know that here doesn’t actually exist, but try telling that to my lizard brain.
If I think too long about what’s next, specifically for my children in this context, outside of here, the same overwhelm springs into action similarly to when I get too wrapped up in here. The cajoling of Maddox into his pajamas, the never ending laundry, the shuttling and carting. Of course having our bed back to an adults-only resort does sound nice but then that means that here no longer exists. Do you see my dilemma?
Forest//trees. It won’t always be this way but in fact, if it could change, I bet I would sleep more, but then will I remember the weight of half your body at 2 3/4 years draped across mine, and who will you be then?
I don’t want to will time away and yet, sometimes I do.
It reminds me of when your (my) newborn slept alone in their bedside bassinet for a long stretch for the first time and thinking we have arrived! We did it! We are HERE! This is how it will be and I attached myself to the idea that there is now a solution to the problem and this is how it will be moving forward.
Only to realize just mere hours later that it was a fluke, as most newborn tendencies are, and my dreams of consistency and structure are shattered on site.
How I hated and loved and reveled and resented those days. The days of unknowing, of exhaustion and of learning.
Only to wake up almost seven years later and realize we are in fact still here.
We always will be.
These kids will require more of me and simultaneously less of me. They will start sleeping in their own bed the entire night and will need to be woken up. There will be less chasing small bodies and instead chasing extracurricular schedules. Anaya and I will walk through navigating a relationship while co-parenting together, my first time to a 6 and 2 year old, Anaya’s first time as a parent ever. There will be familiarity to our parenting styles, less Figuring Out and slipping slowly into a knowing. Only to then change when we are both raising teenagers together for the first time. I long for the mornings that I can tip toe from my bedroom to drink coffee while the rest of the house sleeps. A time will come when dinner doesn’t require a rush, but then we will rush once again.
Here isn’t exactly real and yet it’s the truest thing I know most days.
As soon as we figure out the cadence to a Saturday sport schedule, we will cycle through the year and begin again. The moment we find our sweet spot in terms of date nights, one or both of our schedules will shift and we will have to reconfigure. The times I find my writing rhythm, a new project will present itself and I will stretch once more. The instant that we have sunk into caring for small children, they will be preteens. The second they pull their hand from mine as soon as the asphalt meets concrete, they’ll be pulling in different ways.
This I know and here will be there.
Perhaps you’re reading this and thinking, “this is quite possibly the most obvious and obnoxious thing I have ever read.”
But getting it out of my head, that here isn’t permanent, alleviates and reduces the tunnel vision that sleeps in my head.
Again, try telling that to my lizard brain.
When I think of longevity in cooking, which is what I am doing in between writing this, I think of tangzhong which is exactly that. Promotes shelf life, buoyancy, and stability.
It’s here, but in the best of ways.
And so I’ll make bread. I’ll do my best to untether myself from the idea that I will always be here while quietly being grateful that we are. Here is good,days long//years short, albeit brief.
Not obnoxious, not obvious. I *wish* I had the capacity to notice these things when mine were 6 and 2. It was so hard and I needed a gentle hand on my shoulder reassuring me and asking me to slow down. I can't believe we made it to 17 and 14. Still unlearning so much. It's still hard and now I know it is instead of telling myself it shouldn't be. So there's that.
My ADHD sees you. I needed to read this. I keep the future at a distance in a paralyzing way that keeps it happening to me instead of for me and I'm working on that.