I went back to work last fall after four years of being mostly at home with my kids. Pregnant, tandem nursing, sweeping, cleaning, cooing, cooking, playing, comforting, trying to be present and "enjoying it" even in the midst of my exhaustion, boredom, and intense sleep deprivation.
This blog saved me during that time. It was an outlet for my mind, my cravings for connection beyond what twin babies and a toddler could offer -- three small people, so full of love, so full of endless needs. The blog was a way to keep myself thinking, tinkering, crafting. A way to remain mentally and emotionally stimulated and growing. It taught me discipline for photography and writing. It introduced me to social media, website design and tech skills. This blog has given me a way to connect with virtual friends and community that I truly needed to find during those first few years of my three children's lives.
After starting back at regular part-time work, with my kids spending more hours in their sweet home daycare programs, and me leaving the house more often recently showered and not-barfed-upon and passably well-rested, I became less sure about where this blog fits into things. I'm still not quite sure.
So I backed off for a bit, as perhaps you've noticed. I focused on balancing my amazing job (which I love!) with my family, swinging into a new rhythm of work-life flow. I left the the blog to simmer, giving me room to decide whether it's time to add some new ingredients, to add more broth to the pot, to spice it up, or whether it's done.
I haven't really decided yet. And yet, today, here I am.
There's a way in which I feel like I've just spent the past four years walking head first through a dark tunnel uphill, and into the whipping wind. Parenting, for many of us, is like this. You spend nine months planning for birth and stocking up on baby things and trying to prepare yourself for what parenting is going to be. And then suddenly, that crystal ball you thought you owned drops. Your baby is here, and then perhaps swiftly two more babies are here (!!!), and there is no road map. There are no plans. There is no effing crystal ball. There is no Suze Orman bullet point solution you can rip out of an Oprah magazine that will get you through this. There is utter surrendering of control, of your esteemed so-called self-sufficiency, which you realize was an illusion to begin with. There is a letting go of who you thought you were, of who you actually were, of how you thought, back then, you would do this. You look back at that person and you laugh. Oh yes, you laugh at her! She thought she knew so many things!
There is failure, and defeat, and exhaustion, and looking at yourself in the mirror and not understanding how you got here. There is grieving for that person you were, for that person you thought you would be, for that "having it all" dream you crafted for yourself in your head so long ago. For that dream which you, steeped in all your feminism and privilege and opportunity, really believed.
And with parenting comes also this: a love that is bigger and better than everything else. That utterly dwarfs the rest. A love that saves you and redeems you and forgives you and offers you its grace and shelter even as you trudge forward broken and damaged, carrying all the rest. A love you never imagined could be humanely possible. There is a deepening into the core of you, an animal drive to provide and nurture and nuzzle and protect. There is a ferocity you didn't know you had. And a willingness to give more than you knew you had to give, a giving that wrecks you and makes you.
And in losing yourself, you find yourself. In the stripping away of the planning and controlling and the envisioning of how life would and could and should be, in the slithering out from under that old skin, there is just you. And your children. And for some of us lucky enough, a partner still standing; ragged and worn but standing. And there are simple moments, followed by simple moments. And you persevere.
And one day, perhaps today, you wake up and it is snowing outside. Thick, wet snow. And everything is closed. And white and peaceful and cold. You look outside and see everything, persevering.
And perhaps then you realize you are not in that wind tunnel anymore. Your children are turning five and three years old. Your body, changed, is yours. Your sleep, changed, is (usually now) yours. Your work, your mind, your skills, your dreams, your knowledge, your career, changed. But yours. Again. So soon. After so long.
We step out of that tunnel. And we have persevered.