I am here, people! It’s been a while, and I’m not really sure what to say about my sudden and prolonged hiatus (the longest I’ve gone without blogging for almost five years!). I’ve basically been in a period of deep reflection and change, and have found my energy being needed elsewhere.
I felt like I needed some space—something that is a rarity in my life as a mother (and tell-all blogger). I needed to take a break to really meditate on the direction of my life, and what I want to be doing with myself—something I need to do on a very thorough level at least once a year. I needed to think for a while without sharing those thoughts. And, really, I also wanted to know what it felt like to just be a mother and nothing else.
Then there’s this new phase of mothering that has left me with almost nothing to give outside of my home: mid-toddlerhood. They say toddlerhood exists between the ages of one and three. That’s a pretty long phase, as far as I’m concerned. Given it is two years instead of a few months like many other phases, there are so many phases within phases within phases when it comes to “toddlerhood.” You wake up one day and your baby is suddenly gone and you are staring a toddler in the face. A whole new creature. From then on you walk further and deeper into a crazy, challenging, hilarious, exhausting existence (wondering how you are going to make it to the other side, at times).
Because of this, I feel like toddlerhood should be broken up into levels or stages so we can have some sort of reference point. Like, “it’s total level three toddlerhood up in here. It’s all I do it MYSELF/I will climb up on your counters and swipe anything you suckers leave lying around/everything you own is now MINE/I’m a big girl/I’m a baby/I will only stop screaming if you let me wear your hot pink underwear over my pants, a bathing suit on my head, and one mitten to music class/surprise, surprise, sometimes I will take a nap, sometimes I won’t/I need you/I don’t need you/leave me alone/GIVE ME ALL YOUR ATTENTION NOW/stop hugging me/yes, I wrote all over my body and your white couch with the highlighters I found in your desk/I’m never going to sleep/I see nothing wrong with the volume of my voice, I’m sorry about your headache.”
Anyway. I’m exhausted. In a new way. That’s one of many secrets about being a parent. Okay, maybe it’s not a secret, but it certainly feels that way when it happens to you, because somewhere inside you you are hoping that your kid is the one exception to every typical newborn/infancy/toddlerhood/childhood phase, affliction or annoyance. You want to believe that you will be the lucky ones and it will somehow get easier and less tiring at some point. But, really, as most parents say, it doesn’t get “easier” per se, it just gets “different.” One thing that was hard or exhausting will resolve and an entirely new one will pop up.
And that is what is happening to me now. I feel such freedom from a laundry list of baby and early toddlerhood challenges and totally exhausted in a new way that is forcing me to live my life differently (hence, the no blogging).
I have this little being who talks. Like, really talks, freakishly well for her age. I’m not sure how it’s even biologically or physically possible. She is speaking in sentences, she uses pronouns and past tense and adjectives and articles and possessives. And, it never stops. She wants to talk to me all day and everything she says requires a response, and if no response is given she will just repeat what she has said over, and over, in an increasingly urgent, increasingly high pitched voice. And, don’t get me wrong, I am so in love with this amazing being with the most awesome personality I’ve ever known, but it takes a lot out of me.
You see, a toddler is so different to me than a baby, in that their needs are more difficult to meet. I totally rock the baby phase. I am at my best when I am soothing and nurturing and cuddling. I didn’t get any sleep those first months after Em was born, but I was oddly not tired. Really. Feedings every two hours, twenty-four hours a day? Seriously, probably the most awake I’ve felt as a mother. Now, the needs are more complicated. I am living with a person, not a baby, who is rich with emotion and preference and intelligence. There is a lot to take care of there that isn’t always a tangible “thing” like patting her back to make her burp so she stops fussing.
Of course, there is also all the running. And chasing. And various types of physically-challenging “rides” she would like me to give her. And playing. And saving her from killing herself. And constant….constant cleaning up of messes. And shorter naps…oh, the shorter naps. And fighting bedtime.
On top of toddlerhood, there is also me. I find myself weaving in and out of these states of being just a mother, and trying to find the piece of me that isn’t a mother. Instead of the challenge of my youth—not seeing a path to take—I find myself with so many clear paths laid out in front of me, each of which would lead me to a totally different life from the others, but with a complete inability to decide which one is right.
Which career? When? Go back to the old career I hated or show my child what is possible by following your passion? Take classes? Get another degree? Before, during, or after more kids? Do I even want any more kids? Can Emerson be my only child? How many more kids do I want? When?
Just to name a fraction of the life decisions I’m facing…
So, that is where I’ve been. I hope some of you are still out there. I’m back and I’ve got a lot of new ideas!
P.S. For those of you who were concerned about Emerson’s health (which, I’m sorry was the last thing I posted…kind of an ominous way to go out), everything is fine. We saw a specialist, and aside from being on a yearly watch, our fears of anything serious happening to our sweet angel have been alleviated. Thank you to all of you who showed us great support and sent kind prayers! It meant a lot! Hugs!