This past week has been a crazy and tough one. The girls were clinging to me from the moment Jay left for Scotland to the moment he returned. Even in North Carolina, it was tough. It left me reeling and wondering about life in general. We have a very blessed life. Jay and I don’t worry about money. We started saving as soon as we got "real" jobs and have a nice nest egg growing. We have plans for future home expansion and we aren’t too worried about how to pay for it. The girls are healthy and bright. They have the normal emotional issues that all kids have, but they appear to be both physically and mentally healthy. As long as the spacecraft is healthy and NASA funds it, we have stable jobs, and if we were to lose the spacecraft, I could switch to computer programming rather quickly. I have had headhunters come to me before. So we are blessed.
I watched the world a bit while we were on vacation. It was interesting. My parents are who they are. I wish they were a little different. Things I did not see when I was a child are crystal clear now that I am a parent. I understand some of my own motivations better. And I see why I am the way I am and why I have changed certain things. No, it isn’t a toxic relationship. Yes, I love them. But I am sure that I don’t want my children raised the way I was. I do things differently.
Now that Soleil is getting ready for 1st grade, I am starting to see the future a little differently. I went back to work part-time after her birth. I worked 3 days a week. Now I work 4. I am planning on staying at 4 days a week even once Luna is in 1st grade. (Our town has a 4 day kindergarten). I am planning on changing my day off to Fridays in 2 years, but the thought of it makes me giddy. In two years, I will be able to have from 8:35 until 3:30 ALONE. My time. To do what I want.
Parenting is funny that way. We all start with this idea that life will change when you have a child, but what you don’t realize is that you lose yourself in the process of gaining a child. You take everything you were and it becomes a sleep deprived jumble of emotions. You suddenly exist for nothing else but to love and care for this child. Any crafts, hobbies, reading, writing, any passion you had before a child leaves you as quickly as that first cry leaves your child’s body. It’s gone, in a flash, with little time to mourn the loss and even less time to prepare for the reality of it.
For the next 5 years, you start to slowly gain back who you are. It is very slow. If another child joins your family, it takes steps backwards. But slowly, you can read books again. You can sleep again. A morning with the paper and a cup of coffee is in reach. Granted you may have to stop a paragraph to solve the current "she said, she said" argument, but for a few glorious moments, you were just you. Not mom, not dad, not parent, just you.
I see this point rushing towards me. I am reading a book where the mothers are mourning the loss of their children as they are turning 10 and 11 and becoming "their own person, lost to her forever". I don’t see that in my children. They never were mine to control. They have always been their own persons. I am their guide in the world and the keeper of the peanut butter and jelly. I am the one who snuggles and cuddles, but I also try to let go when they beg to go on a ride at an amusement park alone. I can’t lose what isn’t mine. I can only love them and help them.
Now the girls are older. Older than before we left on our trip. I am a mother to a 6 year old and a 4 year old. The little kid phase is leaving and the kid phase starting. A new family moved into the neighborhood. Their girls have been at our house and our girls have been at theirs. Questions of dinners over and sleepovers have already been asked. "Are you okay with them?" has been asked and I actually had an hour of quiet yesterday as the four played together at the other house. And then they descended on our house and we had a hour of fun together.
Today, Soleil and I had a short time together. Her 6 year appointment was this morning. As we walked down the sidewalk, hand in hand, I told her that she doesn’t need to hold my hand, but it makes me feel warm inside. She looked at me and asked "Is that the love coming out of your heart?"
Yes, baby, it is. And my heart will continue making love for you and your sister.