Life is Good: everything is a phase
I recently started reading a book called, "Happier at Home" by Gretchen Rubin. I'm not sure how I happened upon the book. I may have just liked the title. Or the cover. Yes, I judge books by their covers. There, I said it. Now you know my one flaw. ; )
I've had the book for about nine months, just sitting there, begging to be opened. I ignored it for other books which are in a rotation depending on my mood, level of interest, amount of time I can devote to reading (or rather, smidgen of time) and most importantly, how much sleep I have had (brain capacity for reading comprehension).
I don't subscribe to making new year's resolutions, however, I do think the beginning of the year (as well as my birthday) is a good time to look back and look forward and evaluate what's working and what isn't. I committed to reading more this year. I was still nursing this time last year. (Sorry for the TMI.) The first 18 months with a child allow very little time for anything else but raising them and tending to their every breath and need and when there was time for "anything else", it never meant books for me. So reading more became my non-resolution resolution. I've only actually completed one book so far, if that tells you anything about the aforementioned anything else time. Or my brain capacity and attention span. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
Well, I have started and stopped and started this book again and who knows when I will finish it, so don't hold you breath for a review! It seems like a perfectly sweet little book. It's easy to read and I was thinking it was nice and kind of benign when...the author wrote the words that I had been trying to articulate for the past five years. "The days are long, but the years are short."
Yes! Yes! That's exactly it. Reading those words felt like someone had unzipped my heart, held it in their hands, and read it like a piece of poetry--slowly and intentionally. Indeed, the days are long, but the years are short. This sums up my assessment of parenthood. At least for the phase we are in with a toddler and a kindergartener.
Some days, especially those days in the first 3 months of life or the first year of your child's life seem so.very.long. Mostly because the nights are so short! Getting up multiple times for nursing...oh, the toils of interrupted sleep. Sleep deprivation aside, those days can also be long with snuggles and smiles and my favorite...laughter. I remember wishing away the first three months of our oldest's life. It was so difficult to go from my fast-paced job where my measure of success was how many millions of people bought a product that I created the TV spot for to how often and for how long my child nursed. Admittedly, I felt like a milk machine. And the pain of it all! Excruciating! (Fortunately it doesn't last forever!) I was also so very anxious for our child to "communicate" with us...smiles, rolling over, gurgled replies. To be sure, I loved every minute of being a mommy from the time the stick showed a plus sign. But I wasn't always in the moment those first few months of the big kid's life. Often those first couple of months, I was thinking forward and looking ahead and excited about or anxious for the next big (or better) thing instead of basking in the current one. And why not? It's the only thing I've ever known. I've always been a planner. And my job required a delicate balance of getting today's work done while keeping one eye on what was due next week. But then I discovered how time begins to race once you enter parenthood. It's as if the clock gets reset to double time but nobody tells you and then all of a sudden, a year has passed. And another has whizzed by. And another. Again, the days are long, but the years are short.
Our big kid was three years old when I had another chance to mother a newborn. This time, I knew how fast those first moments go by. I knew that everything is a phase...even the good stuff. So I vowed to savor the moments. I knew that he would eventually sleep longer at night and nurse less often in general. I knew that the sleep deprivation and interrupted sleep was (relatively) short. I also knew that he would only be that tiny--so very, very tiny--for a fleeting instant. Perspective. Attitude. It really changes, or at least affects, everything.
The other day, my dad suggested that Grant and I might like to go to Hawaii for a week, just the two of us. He and my mom (emphasis on "my mom"!) could take care of our little boys and we could have a truly relaxing vacation. It was a generous, loving thought and gesture. And the idea, in my head, of sleeping in and lying on the beach UNINTERRUPTED for an entire morning, even an entire day (WHAT?) sounds amazing! In my head, it does. But honestly, right now, we (yes, I am speaking for my husband and me) couldn't imagine being in Hawaii without our kiddos. We were married several years before we had a child. We traveled, we stayed out late and slept in, we watched movies. We went to quiet restaurants where everyone whispered and ordered in a different language. We had space in the closets and on the bookshelves. We read books and listened to music without interruption. And we felt like something was missing. And it was.
Nothing is missing now. Our lives are full and spilling over. We know that this is a wonderfully special time. We. are. blessed. And after five+ years of parenthood, we know that five+ years goes by in a flash and that there will be a day and time when we will sleep in again, we will watch more movies, and even vacation alone. Sure, I occasionally have a girls' night out and my hubs will go to a ball game with a friend. And of course, there are date nights (not enough of them!) because that is important to a marriage. But for now, we love being together as a family more than anything else. We like each other. And we like being together. I am grateful for that. I acknowledge how fortunate I am that my husband doesn't have hobbies or interests that are self-centered or take him away from our family time. I acknowledge how fortunate we are that neither one of us has to work evenings or weekends away from home. And for now, things like being on a board of directors or volunteering for a fundraiser gala or sitting on a committee for this or that will just have to wait. All of those things and more will still be there for us in five or ten years. Or twenty years. And after that, too.
We know that these precious little people will be precious big people in the blink of an eye. So we willingly will trade lying on a beach uninterrupted for building sand castles and jumping in and out of waves no less than one thousand and fifteen times. Because the days are long, but they are filled with love and wide eyes and, did I mention, laughter? And the years are short, so very, very short, as we have discovered.