Let me tell you a little story. It goes like this: all three of my kids are still asleep at 8:17 am and I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. Drunk on freedom and possibilities.
So I figured I’d blog.
This past weekend Dave took Joey to my parent’s cabin in southern Colorado for a little manly man’s weekend. So male bonding time plus mommy was down one highly-energetic 3.5 year old … it was kind of a dream.
Don’t get me wrong, I missed them, and it was not that fun to be the only parent in town come bedtime, but…it was oddly relaxing to have so much, how do I put this…? Emotional currency available for the other two bebes in my care. I was like, present. For pretty much the entire 2 day period. And it was fine.
I hadn’t really realized until this weekend that we were still very much in postpartum survival mode until one of the small fry was removed from my mom-scape for a couple days and then BAM, seemingly endless amounts of patience for Peter Rabbit and an odd willingness to take long nature walks and sit in the grass with dump trucks, herding roly-polies and splashing in the wading pool.
This makes me sound like a pretty crappy mom, but I’ll go out on a limb here and admit that most days? I don’t even come close to the kind of attentiveness and generosity of spirit I was able to muster up for the past 2 days. Most days I be like, ‘oh, 5 pm? Strap some flip flops on my feet so I can pitter patter out the door when daddy rolls up.’
But I have to remind myself that it was not always so. And that it will not always be so. One day long, long ago, in a condominium complex not so far away, I was drowning in a sea of reusable cloth diapers and trying desperately to keep my head above water as I transitioned from an office dweller to the CEO of Uebbing family, inc. My solitary charge was a 3 month old bundle of sleeplessness who kept me busy from dawn till, well, dawn. And although we did take walks and go on frequent Starbucks outings, it was always such a production. I never felt like I was really caught up (wherever up is) and it was just frankly shocking to my system to be somebody’s everything, every day.
If you could have shown 28 year old me a crystal ball glimpse of life 3 years later where I would willingly (yes, willingly) accept mission impossible of a solo weekend with a 5 month old and 2 year old and that I would take them out to eat, to Mass, and to my sister’s hood rat apartment complex swimming pool by.my.self. I would have been like LOL SHUT THE FRONT DOOR YOU FOOL because no friggin way.
Except guess what? Perspective. It’s so effective.
I wonder if this is what parents who stop at 1 or 2 kids never get to experience? The ‘leveling up’ of one’s parenting abilities/patience/reserves of strength. I’m guessing this factors somewhat into the decision to quit while one’s ahead, so to speak. Except I don’t think you ever actually know you’re ahead until you get a million dollar snatch of hindsight to tell you as much. I guess if you never know it’s going to get easier, that you’re going to get better at this whole mothering gig, then you can proceed with a little less fear and trembling into the unknown territory of 2 or 3 or 4 … and yes, it will still feel terrifying and overwhelming and, at times, utterly stupid…but you’ll have the reassurance that you always feel this way, at least at first.
That’s what this past weekend was: a little pat on the back, a little ‘atta girl’ for this tired mom who feels perpetually behind the 8 ball and like she’s never quite doing these little people justice on a daily basis. I am, though, as best as I’m able, keeping my head above the tepid, questionable pool water. The difference is, now I can see that I’m doing it.