For the last few weeks our after-the-kids-go-down conversations have been circling back to our dreams and fears and hopes for next year and the years ahead. Drew has just finished another marathon application season, tailoring materials for schools around the country. So begins the long wait for answers.
As we toss around the million different options that could shape these years I am overwhelmed by a sense of peace and gratitude for how these two wild little people give purpose and perspective to our waiting. Finances are so tight and fitting together our budget with our emotional, mental and physical health and our vision for our family life is a frustrating jig-saw puzzle of priorities. Should I go back to work? When? Will I make enough for Drew to work a little less? Is it worth it? Should we move? Stay? Try other fields? Move to the city, or another burb, or even a small town? In this swirl of too many questions and options and possibilities, I have become especially thankful to have this wonderful exhausting fulfilling job of making life with Rowan and Evelyn. This small and not small thing, spending all the long and little moments with R&E is so full of meaning and intensity and need; beautiful and overwhelming and just exactly right for this moment in our life of swirling unknowns.
My friend Blythe recommended Drew and I watch a netflix documentary about an event called Mortified. At bars and theaters around the country, Mortified sets up a mic and invites participants read from their adolescent journals and diaries and love letters – the ones stuffed in the back of shoe boxes and closets, half-forgotten but too awesomely cringe-worthy and important to part with. It inspired me to dig out my stack of old journals and rediscover the person I was at 13 and watch her grow and struggle and worry and wonder. And here I am, 25 and still doing all those same things with far less time or energy to be reflective about them.
Seeing my life spread out on the coffee table, narrated with pen and paper for so many nights over years and years challenges me to get back into the habit. Even in the mundanity of this season of life, I feel myself growing and changing and I don’t want to miss the chance to learn and reflect. Can someone tell me how to fit writing into life with young children?
One theme that continued to pop up over and over in my scribbled books was this pursuit of purpose. Capital P Purpose. How could I possibly find the proper place for myself, one where my intensity and passion and introversion and curiosity and hope and fire and wonder could possibly be put to some use, and perhaps even satisfied? While I’m growing less certain that such a season of life exists…or should exist, this new stage as a family and my new mom-self sure come close. Even on the most exhausting of days when I am totally tuning out baby whines and cranking up npr or old episodes of Bones, pawning the bedtime routine off on Drew while I sit on the couch writing emails and blog posts (yeah. he’s more amazing than I ever knew.), eventually the chaos settles and I am just completely overwhelmed by the reality of this wild life. Me, a mom. Drew and I, parents of two babies – babies who grew for 9 months IN MY FREAKING BODY and then 9 more as real deal actual ever-growing changing little humans here in our home. Our little cozy two-bedroom apartment that sometimes feels impossibly luxurious and other times intensely juvenile, depending on who and what I’m feeling insecure about. And they just carry on, becoming little people with personalities and very clear desires and dislikes, right before our eyes. I love the moment when Drew comes home and I just can’t wait to tell him what funny or amazing new thing one of them did that day. It is such a simple, mundane sort of life: endless laundry, a to-do list that I make little progress on, cheerios crunched everywhere all the time, a bathtub never empty of toys and a living room constantly trashed by the children and adults who live there. But in this simplicity, in the mess (I mean, literal mess. Chaos. Dishes. Laundry. Eau du poopy diapers.) are the cuddles and giggles and hide & seek and the learning new skills and sounds and songs.
9 more and we could be living in a new city. New routines, new friends, new everything. Or we could be right here, gearing up for another semester or maybe a new job for me and a season of staying at home for Drew. No matter what, nothing ever stays the same, does it? And yet I have this peace about how our wild two little loves will ground us. How their immediate needs pull us always back together as a family, away from the bottomless pit of what-if’s, away from the fears about what will come after and after and after. I suppose kids do complicate life and add expenses and stress, but they teach me to live and love joy in these little moments. To worry less about what kind of person I am becoming and just be that person to and for them, right now.
For all of these nine months and the months ahead.
Rowan is crawling and starting to cruise, tentatively. (Cruising is a term I learned from Susan when her girls started cruise-walking pretty much immediately after they were born. Champions.) He is just always busy busy busy, standing up and sitting down, patting things, banging things together, exploring whatever is in front of him or plausibly in arms reach. I love watching this kid learn about his world. It’s like you can see his brain growing with every pat and shout and scoot. He’s also our personal cheerleader – clapping joyfully with a great big grin whenever anybody does anything. Drew exclaims that Evelyn has pooped and changes her diaper – clap, clap, clap. I empty the dishwasher – clap, clap, clap. Rowan finds a power cord – clap, clap, clap. Today he got suddenly quiet after a long whiny nap protest and when I peeked in his room I saw him sitting in the corner of his crib grinning through his pacifier, clapping away. Such a joyful little boy.
Evelyn has also jumped on the happy child bandwagon and introduced her new dolphin laugh, perfect for all occasions but especially when she’s trying to make clear that she’s just humoring us and whatever nonsense we’re trying to use to make her giggle. Still, it is adorable and I love it. She’s still not quite crawling, just some backwards scooting and lots of rolling so Rowan spends a lot of time using her as a step-stool/arm-rail/ottoman (for real. that boy is always trying to sit on his sister). As a result, I think Evelyn has started timing her awake times to be opposite of his. Any activity that Evelyn likes just in general she LOVES when it’s brother-free. She’s content just to sit and chat or sing on your lap so long as its just you and her together. While we were in Colorado she got lots of Nanni/Papi/aunt/uncle time and now that we’re home I think she’s a little put out by the lack of one-on-one time. I love this about my little girl, how we can work away on our own little projects side by side or giggle and read books together or arch our backs and scream for no reason while trying to fling head-first off the couch. It’s the little moments, you know?
When I think about all that has happened in their little lives and how they’ll never be those tiny, wrinkly newborns ever again I am overcome by a desire to gestate. Just kidding. But I am totally in awe of how life happens and how quickly and unexpectedly it all rushes past.
Stay tuned for the one-year post. It should be a doozy, especially if I’m journaling regularly by then. All those thoughts and feelings!