Henry is three years old today and I am shocked how quickly this happened! Yesterday my tiny ten pound baby lay in my arms and today that little boys amazes us with his sweet and curious energy. He is a non-stop chatter and his imagination is joyful. I love to listen to his stories of make-believe and the questions he asks to learn about the world and about himself. He loves sand and superheroes and playing with his brother and dogs. He sings everyday and plays hide and seek by closing his eyes (it kills me, I love that so). He always want to head off to school and comes home sharing his favorite part of the day. I cannot thank this little boy enough for teaching us how to parent and to really really play again. We love you so so much birthday boy and know you will do great things just like your buddy Spider-Man.
He might be the littlest one at camp this summer since he only turns 3 on Sunday but he is loving every second of it! It is so hard to watch him grow up, become independent, and try new things on that bring him closer to his own identity. Yet at the same time that my heartaches it also melts to be so lucky to witness this, to stand nearby and to steal hugs and kisses in between all that big kid growing up stuff. He kind of rocks my world.
Every summer my to-do list gets in the way. I end up racing around doing errands, home projects, and school prep and before I blink it is time for back-to-school. I am making a promise though to myself to not let that happen this year. The boys will only be this small for a short while and our short summer together should be filled with time together adventuring and exploring. Those window frames can wait to be painted, it is okay if my garden is not meticulously tended to, and no one will judge me if all my dishes are not cleaned up after mealtime. The hardest part of this plan is going to be sticking to it, reminding myself to take a breath and let it be, and to savor the these fleeting moments. He boys won’t remember their mommy cleaning up st this point but they will remember the sand, waves, and cuddles. So just going to do that this summer!
Okay, I did something crazy yesterday. But when I say that, I don’t want you to think it was unplanned or rash. What made it crazy wasn’t the idea but rather the follow through. While driving home from work, I pulled off the road I drive on everyday and walked into a tattoo parlor and got inked. WHAT!? This past month has been emotional. I have written about it and shared some of the emotions that have gone into these past 30 days and many of these feelings feel “accepted” now. Have you ever felt like you walked 1,000 miles in a moment? That was this past month. There was a lot that happened, a lot that changed, a lot that was projected on to the future, a lot that was processed, a lot of transitions, a lot of living, a lot of growing, a lot of discomfort, a lot of frustration, a lot of tears, and finally it feels like some acceptance.
Almost a month ago exactly, David went in for the “snip.” Almost a year ago exactly, I was 100% on board with that decision. Having just had a natural childbirth, I swore on every holy text that I never wanted to feel the uncomfortableness of childbirth again and that our family was truly complete with the arrival of our second baby boy. Of course, those immediate postpartum feelings subsided. The “nope never again will I feel those contractions” conviction wanes as your once helpless little baby starts walking around, babbling, and becoming independent. Maybe this isn’t the sentiment of everyone, but for me that one year mark is the beginning of the return of “baby hunger.” Every inch of my heart starts to ache for a baby. And as both the one year mark and the date of David’s procedure approached and intertwined within 24hrs of each other, my emotional state became uneasy with the reality that our baby making days were over and that my baby was growing up faster than I was ready for. The next 30 days were and still are a period of letting go. Yesterday, while scrolling my Instagram a friend shared this quote and it resonated deeply, “Life is a gentle teacher. She will keep repeating the lesson until we learn. Help me remember that frustration and confusion usually precede growth. It my situation is challenging me, it is because I am learning something new. Rising to a high level of understanding. Help me be grateful, even in my frustration, that life is an exciting progression of lessons.” When I read this, it might seem silly but I found some much needed peace in these words. Everyone always says that life throws you curveballs and to be able to roll with the waves of time. But this is a lot easier said than done. When one has a particular “set” look for the future and that doesn’t end up being the reality, it is hard to grow into. At least, I found this really hard. I railed against the idea of not adding a daughter to our tribe, I did not know how to grieve the end of that dream and struggled to find comfort with David because in the moment he felt like the cause of my pain by going through with the procedure even though we had both always known that two kiddos felt “right” for our family. My questions kept me up at night, What if two was not the “right” number? What happens in five years from now when we wake up and realize we want one more baby but can longer even try? The finality of it all was very challenging to process.
I do not know how to explain it but some of the rawness wore off in the days following the initial feelings of shock, confusion, frustration, and sadness. David did the best he could to be a source of comfort, he demonstrated in a number of ways his love and commitment to me and to our family and in those moments with him at home and with our little boys, gratitude and appreciation for what I have bloomed bigger than the darker, superficial feelings of dissatisfaction, unfulfillment, and resentment. What exactly was I bemoaning? What exactly did I feel like I would be missing out on? When toddler cries out about being denied something be it licking a light bulb or being laid in a crib a common acronym shared among mommies is FOMO, fear of missing out. What was my FOMO? Yes, I will miss out on mother-daughter things, but I have to remember that nothing about parenting or motherhood has been what I expected or anticipated. My two boys have surprised me since the moment they joined our family earthside and that the realness of motherhood is not linear, it is not predictable, it is not gendered, it just is what it is. It is just giving love to the boys, sharing experiences with them, caring for them, and growing with them in life and if that is the perspective that I start each morning with there is nothing I will miss out on unless I throw up my own walls and dig myself into my own corner.
It feels so much better emotionally to let go and not just because it was the inevitable next step but to let go because it was a choice I made with myself to be grateful, present, and balanced. A choice to look around not with expectation for how I think the future will unfurl raising two boys and being married to David but to look around for the possibilities within our day, for adventures, and surprises and to not box any of us in. I don’t want to be boxed in by the narrative I wrote for myself when I was younger which I know no longer applies to who I am or what I want nor should I box in my spouse or kiddos because there is no fun in that. So why did I get inked?
Because life is about experiences and for a long long long time I have talked about getting a tattoo, drawn on my skin various designs but always backed out of them. Things that seem SO permanent are SCARY but also they don’t have to be scary at all. David’s procedure and its permanence was terrify and I am sure there will be days where I go back there, if momentarily, to that feeling of fear/dread, but I don’t have to live there and that permanence doesn’t change how much I love him, the boys, or our lives. Getting the tattoo helps demystify for me the power of permanence. It helps me remember that experiences are more important than check-lists. And sitting down to be tattooed by myself was an experience I will never forget. I felt braver in that moment than I thought I was capable of. It is a reminder that my marriage, my boys, and gratitude are my guiding principles, my doorways to the next great adventure, and that sometimes it is okay to do something permanent, brave, and unexpected!
Getting glimpses into what mornings will look like here. Henry is playing an elaborate Lego game at the kitchen island and Owen is walking about on his own playing with a pushcart. Drinking my big latte and watching all this is sweet and weird. They are self-entertaining and my “quiet” morning might be coming back to me but a part of me wants to scoop up the boys and create the chaos I am accustomed too. You never want what you have, huh?