It doesn’t feel like ten years. But how else could we have fit in a first dance under the stars, a first kiss in a dorm room, a first trip to Nashville to meet your parents, a first hike in Gatlinburg where we were going to walk until the end before we realized we were on the Appalacian Trail, a first Broadway play that left us singing Abba years later, a first Mardi Gras in NOLA where you caught me a little green frog, a first graduation together, a first intimidating vegetable (artichokes) cooked, a first time making pickles, a first time saying vows in front of a crowd, a first time leaving the country together, a first dog, a first garden, a first house, a first kid to whom I gave that little green frog? Or how could we have had a second trip to Nashville, a second hike through the Arkansas wilderness where we at least realized we were on a super long trail, a second garden, a second kid? How else can you account for the wonderful parameters that mark our life together?
A decade just doesn’t seem long enough.
I’m a competitive person. With myself. With others. When other people know there’s a competition. When they don’t.
This personality trait makes it difficult to remember that not everything needs to be contested.
So here is my daily reminder to myself that we can both be tired. There is no “more actually tired,” no “more deserving of being tired.” There is only tired. And the hope that there is a light at the end. And the thankfulness that we can be tired together.
This evening I took a toddler walk. The pace was slow, and the company was perfection. We picked clovers and hit orange signs. We talked about the lack of water truck and the presence of a crane. There were flowers to color code and cracks to jump over. We touched every brick wall and discussed being two and a half. The space between trash cans were tunnels and light poles were for playing peekaboo.
For twenty minutes I saw the world through my son’s eyes. It looked like an adventure.
Today our nanny was “late.” She was at our house about ten minutes later than normal, which still left me with plenty of time to get to work. You know what I did in those extra minutes? I held my daughter and read my son a book. Then my son read the book to me. It was simple. It was extraordinary.
Sometimes being a few minutes behind your self-imposed schedule can be the best part of your day. My kids are teaching me that.
I realized it’s been a month since I wrote down any thoughts. So much has changed. Louise smiles all the time, especially when you play with her legs and sing her song. (“Hello Louise” to the tune of “Come On Eileen.” If you were wondering.) Noah has suddenly acquired a firmer grasp of the English language and spoke a full sentence with a clause and subject verb agreement this morning. (“When momma gets home, I’ll take off her helmet.” In case you were curious.) I went back to work and found out that my amazing coworkers had moved me into an office with a window. I get to use my adult brain and do research and finish up the work on a grant and have odd conversations. Then I get to be home by 3:30 and play trains and feed Louise and make dinner. I’m tired, but happy. It’s a good life.
I also made a pumping sign for my office door that I’m inordinately proud of. If you happen to like it and be in need of one, feel free to use it.
Here is is as a PDF: pumping sign
I had forgotten.
It’s true that the small things that happen everyday that I wanted to believe I would always remember with clarity fade. They get replaced with the new small things that I want to hold onto.
I had forgotten the sheer joy that filled my heart when my baby cooed at me for the first time. I forgot until yesterday when my baby looked into my eyes and told me all about it. I sat on the couch and talked to her for minutes. She smiled and told me thoughts and waited for me to keep the conversation going. In those moments I got another glimpse at the person she is becoming. At the way her mind works and the personality rising to the surface. It made me tear up out of happiness.
I am glad to have the opportunity to remember.
My toddler is a helper. Except he can’t say the word “help.” It comes out “heyelp!” For instance, When he hears the dishwasher open, he yells, “I heyelp!” and jumps right in. It has taken some perspective adjusting, but I find myself changing my rote chore moves to accommodate my helper. After years of figuring out the most efficient ways to do tasks, I’m now going in the reverse direction. Having a two year old follow you around with a dust pan and open the trash can for you is not the quickest way to sweep. Nor is having him hand you silverware one piece at a time. Neither is letting him throw individual pieces of clothing into the washing machine or giving him an empty spray bottle and a rag so he can dust too.
I realized that right now is the time to embrace the extra two minutes a task takes because I’m doing it with him. And the truth is that there is no hurry. He wants to be just like momma and dada, and these days of having a two year old will be briefer than I want to admit. Do I really care if it takes extra time to plant bulbs or rake the yard? For the first time in my life, I can honestly say no.
Sometimes I feel it rising up in me like a bubble, one that I try to swallow down with a deep breath and a smile. But that does not always work. Especially when lunch and milk end up on the floor after an attempt to make a break down the driveway after unprompted yelling in the car. Especially when one more ignored request goes by.
In that moment, I feel myself be the parent I don’t want to be and before I get down a deep breath, I raise my voice and lose my cool. Add in some sleep deprivation, and it’s the perfect conditions for a not proud parenting moment.
And why? To get the blocks put away? For something that really, truly does not matter?
But today is a new day, which luckily for me means a clean state, two happy kids and some perspective.