a year later...5:34 PM
This morning I was sitting at the dining room table with my laptop and planner and was making some phone calls. I could hear the kids tinkering and clanging with toys in the playroom and I stopped for a moment and thought "wow." Most frazzled mama's can understand the the "wow" factor in this situation.
That first year with Teddy was tough. I kept my head down and repeated my daily mantra "just keep swimming, just keep swimming." I fed, potty trained, made "kid friendly meals" and attempted solids. I rocked to sleep and shushed and changed and put away blocks and books fifty times a day. I swept up cheerios, reheated my coffee, occasionally showered and sometimes I yelled. I let the mail pile up every week. I didn't read a single book and wore heels on three occasions. I wore my favorite yoga pants until they were threadbare and perfected the "mommy bun." I swaddled and tucked in two babies until it was all a blur. The last year felt like "slippers, bun, coffee, pass out. Repeat."
I wondered as the months whooshed by and autumn rolled into winter if I was actually getting dumber with time. I couldn't write an intelligent sentence for the life of me and as I already mentioned reading was something I looked upon with fond memories (unless you count all the reading I did on mommy forums trying to figure out why my kid won't freaking sleep!!). I yearned a creative outlet yet at the same time I felt like I had nothing to offer anyway. I was whipping myself up into a frenzy of self-doubt until I read a few interviews with Adele last month and it all clicked.
"Much has been made of the time it's taken to record 25. But Adele wouldn't - couldn't - be rushed. "Sometimes I wonder if I've missed it by a year, bringing it back. But you know, I was being a mum. I couldn't rush it. And you've got to give people a chance to miss you." She tried to get back into the studio in 2013, going to her friend Kid Harpoon's studio to try out some stuff. "Just for a laugh. It was a 'dip my toe back in the water' thing really. Me and Tom get on great, so I went in with him 'cause I knew there was no pressure. We just chatted, mainly, and got chocolate tempura. I don't know why I wasn't ready, I just couldn't access myself."
"I just couldn't access myself." There it was, the culmination of a years worth of frustrations finally put into words. I have not been able to access myself until now. To say that I haven't had time for "me" would be an understatement. Me likes to read. Me likes to paint. Me likes to see movies in the theater (can you imagine??). Me likes to travel and go to the theater and listen to podcasts and cook more than just mac and cheese. But for a year "me" has been on a sabbatical of sorts.
Before my mother left our brand new family of four after doting on us for an entire week after we got back from the hospital she shared something with me. She said "Brace yourself and please make sure to eat. Above anything please make sure you're eating because you are responsible for feeding another person right now." Best advice ever. And that in a nutshell is how I survived this year - as long as we were all fed it would all be ok. We didn't get much sleep, well perhaps with exception of Birdie. We didn't do too many exciting things. We didn't get out much. I didn't "accomplish" much but hey, we MADE it!! You know what I mean?
These days I have to start telling people that I have two "toddlers" which totally and completely blows my mind every time. I shower almost daily now and I rarely have to re-heat my coffee. I can make phone calls if I need to without the fear of having to hang up on account of one of my babies screaming and I actually make pretty decent progress with my to-do lists. I'm on a reading roll (one book a month! woo hoo!!) and we've even been to a concert or two! And the ideas I have now!! Crazy, wild and exciting ideas! Basically - I have time to think again! And goodness it's exciting! I feel like I'm getting to know myself all over again.
But what would any of this be without the bittersweet? Because amid all this excitement my heart breaks a little bit when I see just how grown up they both are. I miss Teddy's tiny scrunched up body that was almost permanently attached to my breast for the first month. I miss his papery skin and the smell of his freshly bathed head. I miss seeing Birdie crawl and the finger pointing and grunting. I miss her chubby little hands and feet. I miss the way they would yawn when they were just a few days old. I wish I could travel back in time but as my current self (read - not sleep deprived and a total zombie) so that I could really appreciate those incredible moments. But such is life. I cherished what I could, when I could and I guess that will have to do.
I am looking forward to the new year and what it holds for us as a family. I looking forward to watching the kids grow. I am looking forward to getting to know myself better because every time I bring a new life into the world and my heart breaks off again I change and it takes time to find myself again. But what a wonderful problem to have! You think exploring is all over after your early twenties but in a way it's only just beginning!