I had a fullblown parenting meltdown last night.
I will spare you the gory, self-depricating details, but suffice it say that it was a grand display of selfishness on my part. I desperately needed to run away, and I finally dropped the children off with my mom, left my sick husband to fend for himself (what kind of wife does that??), and left. I just drove. In my mind, I had a destination, but I wasn't sure where it was. And it took me a LONG time to get there.
Sometimes, I just have to get out, get away, and get lost. I just have to. I am not proud to say it, but it's wise to know one's limitations, I'm pretty sure. Last night, I met mine.
This business of being a Mother of Two Under Three... well, it's just hard. Sometimes I fear that the job description and endless demands may cause me to lose my mind, or worse yet: myself.
I am glad to report that the evening did the trick, I feel better today, and I woke up ready to face the challenges of the job. And it's a good thing, because Tyler is on day three of diarrhea and Tuck threw up four times last night and twice this morning. Bring on the disinfectant; my kids are sick.
Thankfully, four hours away helped me gain some perspective as well as my Game Face. Robb, thanks for allowing the frantic departure. Mom, thanks for catching the kids as I tossed them at you.
And now, less than 24 hours later... I have a new approach, a new self discovery, and a new plan. Sort of. It's only just now coming together in my mind.
As of late, I have had so many well-meaning people say to me, "Just enjoy every minute with these children. You're going to miss it someday."
I get what they mean. But not every minute is enjoyable. It's just not.
I think I will miss the next stage. I will miss the preschool years, when they are potty trained and a little independent. When we are having family movie night and game night and reading books together and talking about what they are learning. I think I'll miss that.
I think I'll miss the elementary years, watching them run on the soccer field and be the blueberry in the school play. I think I'll miss the school projects and the family camping trips. I'll miss tucking them in and kissing them good night.
I think I'll miss the teenage years. I think I will miss their football games and halftime shows. I will miss their humor, when they will live to make me laugh. I think I will miss knowing and loving their friends, the bustle that comes with a houseful of teenagers hanging out after practice, eating everything in sight.
But will I miss this? Will I?
As I talked with my mom about all of this (as I so often do, since she knows this journey so well, she remembers its demands, and she doesn't make me feel ridiculous for feeling tired or spent), she said she would say the same thing differently. She doesn't miss the baby years, but she recalls them fondly. That's different. She looks at pictures of my brother and me, when we were so very little, and she remembers her babies. She even got teary saying so.
But does she want to go back and do that again? No. Not at all. But part of her heart will always remember and hold dear those sweet little people who called her Mommy.
That's refreshing. It's not about enjoying every minute... it's about enjoying the ones I can and making the most of the ones that are harder to embrace. Like, oh, I don't know... the vomit in Tucker's bed this morning. Make the most, Tricia. Make the most.
So, here's what I started to wonder... I have been so incredulous of anyone telling me I am going to miss this, while my children are hanging on my pantlegs and demanding more, more, more. Maybe I will miss it someday, but for now, I'm just trying to survive.
But there is a closely related danger: while I am waiting to "miss this," what if I really miss this?
What if I miss the little details that are my children, so little, as they are today? What if I am so eager to move on and look back longingly, that it all bypasses me in the moment?
What if I miss the feel of their sweet little dimpled hands and their fingernails (that always need trimmed)?
What if I don't look at them enough?
What if I forget the feel of Tyler's hands in my hair, my curls gently tangled in his little fingers, as he falls asleep?
What if I forget the many faces of Tucker? He has a different expression when he is proud of himself, when he is trying not to laugh, when he knows he's funny. Three different smiles. What if I forget their subtle distinctions?
What if I forget what it sounds like to hear them call my name, even if it feels incessant in the moment?
On my birthday, I gave myself the gift of sitting with them to watch Sesame Street. And to my surprise, I liked it. It was funny. But it was also darling, to sit in my chair with my little men. One on my lap, one at my side, all three of us wrapped up in Grover's silly antics. What if I don't do that enough, and when I'm finally ready to sit with them, they would rather run and play?
What if I forget how much Tyler loves his blanket? How he dives into it, in his crib, face first?
What if I forget how they smell right after a bath? Or even more endearing but demanding to love: right before the bath?
A friend of mine said not too long ago, "Look at Tyler's feet. They are identical to Tucker's."
I had never noticed. How did I miss that??
What if I am so busy investing in other people that I forget to invest in them? What if all these play dates are really just about me and the other moms, and I'm just letting the boys tag along?
What if I miss what they need from me today, because I was too busy with what I need to do today?
What if I let them slip through my fingers, when they were so briefly mine to hold?
What if I miss this??
Okay, Tricia. Slow down. Yes, slow down with the questions and the what ifs. But more importantly, just slow down. Slow down the schedule. Slow down the day. Let today be what it is instead of trying to fill it up, make it more, maximize. I have learned that discontment sets in when I wish for more. More in my life, more in my day, more in this moment.
If this day is about jammies and Bert and Ernie? Do it. Slow down.
So that's the new plan. I am here. So are they. No regrets. I don't want to miss this.
Because someday, I really, truly, actually might... miss this.