Letting Go


When E was born, she was difficult. No more difficult than the other unlucky babies with the run-of-the-mill yet debilitating issues like colic, reflux, or allergies, but still challenging. The type of challenging that brought forth a slew of late night google searches on topics we’d believed we had exhausted with our reflux-y colicky first born. But in spite of those issues, I always felt the warm fuzzies in the morning. I still felt the wisp of perspective nestled in my brain as I started each day on little to no sleep. Perspective that ran past me and bounded into the room in the shape of a talkative, ever changing, no longer a baby – little boy. Her older brother who now resembled a giant made her seem ever smaller, making me keenly aware that soon long limbs would sprout from her soft round midsection, and those completely curved feet would soon flatten and arch and be wearing shoes too big to be bronzed.

Children have a way of making you blissfully aware of your existence through witnessing theirs, turning negative thoughts into aspirationally positive ones, attempting to fix lifelong habits as you realize they’re watching you as well. And in those beautiful moments of quiet observation you’re sometimes the person you hope you to be for them. But in the more frequent moments you’re not, the darkness is blacker because you’re now failing several people instead of just yourself, left angry and resentful at these little beings that need so much, take so much, and who could be forever impacted by your inability to continually give them your best.

It comes out little by little, as I grit my teeth with happiness and receive the comments of others reminding me of my beautiful children and life (they are and it is). I’m finally spotting the signs of raggedness I’ve been trying so hard to hide. It’s there, in my bitten down nails and flaked cuticles, dry from the constant dish washing and laundry folding, bath giving and hand washing. Chewed to the quick while worrying about their lack of vegetable eating or too much screen watching. It’s there in the black semicircles under my eyes, that scream to be covered by a smear of concealer no matter what state of disarray or undress I choose to leave the house in the morning. It’s there in the way I lose my cool after a seemingly innocent refusal to brush teeth or drink milk. The way I feel nothing some days when I see the stream of tears down a chubby face or hear a soft whimper.

I love them so much but they make me hate myself sometimes. And every article written about the trials and tribulations of parenthood inevitably requires a very clear disclaimer: I love them, but. I’m so lucky, but. They are so unbelievably wonderful and magical and pure but. I miss myself sometimes, period. And that feels expressly forbidden. After a lot of beating myself up and wondering why I seemed to be struggling so much at this mothering thing, I came to realize that the two are not mutually exclusive: the unconditional love and the inexplicable yearning. It’s not so often expressed, that many of us function with both as our North Star. That some days we are parents and that’s enough. More than enough, some days it is just me and them and I’m complete. And other days it feels empty, and hard, and endless. Like I will never be good enough and they deserve better than what I’m able to give. But somehow, in the cross section of those two very opposite existences, you find a sliver of normalcy. Maybe one side of you cannot exist without the other. Maybe if you were completely satisfied with one, you wouldn’t be able to appreciate both. Maybe chasing balance shouldn’t be the goal; floating across and around and above and below it is just fine. Maybe you’re allowed to love your family and love yourself too. Maybe happiness is just letting go.



Happy 2 Years, Beckett


When you’re awake, you light like a firework, your eyes glistening with energy and a slight darting agitation, always on the lookout for your next adventure.  On the rare slower days you wake up hazily, mumbling “mama, tummy” and burying your face in my stomach, your eyes fluttering as you drift back to sleep.  It’s why I selfishly enjoy keeping you up past your bedtime, why I’m often late for work, why our bed remains unmade at the end of a rushed morning.  Because rumpled sheets, smudged makeup, a mismatched outfit – all give way to morning snuggles – stolen time in exchange for warm sugary kisses, nose nuzzles, and marshmallow hugs.  With a forgotten phone and misplaced keys, I’m repaid with blanket forts and soft morning gibberish.

Today you cried yourself into a hacking cough, snot running into your mouth, as you clawed your way past my body to avoid timeout.  You told me and your dad to “go away,  go away over there!”, refused most of dinner, held your poised arm gripping a toy hammer over the glass panes of the cabinet while maintaining eye contact and questioning “no?” with a sly smile.  When you know full well what is and isn’t “no” behavior.  You try my patience, and have the ability to turn good days to bad in the span of minutes.  But you are a walking, breathing ray of happiness that fuels my every minute.

You’re talking now in full sentences (in two languages!), singing songs and using words we didn’t teach you, repeating things we wish you wouldn’t, connecting so many dots I can feel the window of my being able to teach you things closing more quickly than I imagined.  You can sing your ABCs (with a few blanks), and count to ten.  Your favorite foods are fish, kolaches, hash browns, and chocolate cake (you are your mother’s son). You love trains, Legos, building things (without help), dismantling things, dancing, books, and taking selfies.  You love other kids, your grandparents, and labeling any grouping of things of varying sizes as mama, dada, and baby.  You have an unbelievable memory that has taken away our ability to falsely promise you things “tomorrow”, because you will wake up every morning for the next week reminding us of what you’re owed.  You are sweet and highly considerate of the kids around you at the playground, but will not hesitate to resort to tantrums in the safety of your parents’ company.  You understand humor and the art of misdirection, you beam when saying “I did it by myself!”, you fake cry when you have small stumbles but don’t make a peep when you have a real injury.  You are as stubborn as you are cute, and with our first attempts at discipline your typical response is a ripple of giggles and a megawatt smile, because you know how easy it is to break mommy’s mean face.

You are 2 now.  And I find it nearly impossible to remember a life prior to the last two years of the last thirty-one of my existence. Without question, it’s been the years with the most stress, the most worry, the most tears, and the least sleep.  But we have been filled with the most laughter, the most memories, and the most unbelievable joy.

Happy birthday to our everything!