I try and be as honest as possible on this blog, mostly because if you have two minutes to read something I have written I would prefer to share something true and real. I don't share EVERY feeling and thought because I would also prefer you not to walk away feeling like the world is a dark and lonely place. Because sometimes I have dark and lonely days- even when surrounded by husband and babes and all good things.
If girls like me can have dark and lonely days, no one is safe.
I was born with the innate ability to make the lemonade. See the silver lining. Drink the glass half full with gusto and a pinky out. Find the shiny thing in the big pile of dog crap. In other words, I am the Webster definition of an Optimist. With a healthy dose of Idealist and Excitement-ist to make me officially the happiest person on the planet. Seriously. I don't like being sad or disappointed or frustrated or God forbid, resigned.
This has served my family so well over the past 10 years. Grad school in New Orleans and me with a BA in Anthropology needs to support out family? No problem. Swanky stationery store in uptown needs a girl with a great smile and willing to make $22K/year. Evacuated from a hurricane? Let's go shopping for new clothes to replace what we lost. Living with your parents while we figure out what to do? Sounds like a hoot. Itty bitty garden apartment in DC with reefer smoke coming down through the vent system? Going to clinicals during nursing school smelling like pot is hi-larious. And that enormous old house in Bellefonte which even our realtor tried to talk us out of because it was so much work and square footage? The two of us will fill it up with laughter and antique furniture and dinner parties.
I have never been unhappy anywhere we have lived, and we have lived in a lot of places. I love change and new things and starting over. I really do have an amazing ability to work hard and find something good about every situation. I just need time and energy and I can do it.
Enter this season of life with a 3 year old Purslane, an 18 month old Knox and a husband who is establishing himself in a new job working late nights and early mornings. Enter working evening shifts at the hospital and coming home at midnight, knowing that Pursy will be awake and ready for breakfast at 6am with no respect for what time I actually fell asleep. Enter two babes who need and want me around every second of the day because their worlds are exploding with new accomplishments and scary obstacles and mastering skills. Enter Grant who is a really good friend and wants to have drinks on the porch in the evening so he can introduce me to the new National album. Enter a house that is still not self cleaning, laundry that multiples at an alarming rate and a damnable desire to feed my family healthy, homemade foods.
I don't feel like I ever get enough sleep. But that isn't a big deal- coffee helps with that. And I don't beat myself up about the sticky kitchen floor or the goldfish crackers smashed into the rug because that is just life with little babes. I am fine with lunches of cherry tomatoes and cheese and pita chips and peaches because along with being easy it is good food. I don't need to MAKE something for every meal. The every day life stuff I feel is as good as it can be. I accept the chaos and smudges on the window and just enjoy a second game of Ladybug with Pursy.
And I feel so cliché complaining about it even a little bit because the scale is tipped overwhelmingly to the Good Stuff side. No major health problems, money to explore the awesome city we live in, two gorgeous children, resources to buy fresh, local food, friends to sit around our table, and a marriage that is great despite two people who could not be more different mashed together and making it work.
But having two small babes is all consuming and full of anxiety and second guessing and frustration as I come to terms every day with the fact that what I desire to do and what I am forced to do are different. I want to give them fantastic childhoods full of adventure and free range experiences, but with two of them at the age where running away from Mom is great, I have to constantly balance letting them explore their world and trying to keep them alive. It is hard to let go of all that responsibility after they go to bed, so evenings are usually a frustrating time of trying to transition from exhausted Mama to sexy, interesting wife. It doesn't sound so hard to let Grant put a beer in my hand and force me to sit on the back porch and listen to the Pirates game with him, but it feels like a supreme effort most nights.
And I get angry that my best friend has to beg for my attention. I forget birthdays and miss phone dates and don't return emails for weeks- people are so understanding but I feel like such a bad friend. Books go unread and recipes go untried and concerts go unattended and camping trips go unplanned. Grant sent me a text this morning after leaving for a conference in Baltimore that simply said
"I miss you and me before we had kids."
And I was so relieved to hear him say it first, because I don't need anything else to feel guilty about. Certainly not admitting out loud anything that would sound like regret about having children. And that's not it at all- there was no regret in his words. Just an acknowledgment that having kids is hard sometimes. And all that time we had to focus on each other was good and is missed. The ease of going out to dinner, going to a show, watching a movie, making a four course meal out of Food & Wine just for the two of us, sex on the back porch, sleeping in until it was ridiculously lazy...
I miss that too.
These dark and lonely days have been coming more frequently. I keep trying to talk myself out of it or even shame myself out of it with things like "you are so blessed and have no reason to not love your life". This is the optimist in me that refuses to give up and just be sad about the things I cannot do anymore. I adore these two little people who run my life at present. But I really liked the girl I was before babes and the life I used to have too.
This is hard.