It’s 3AM and I can’t sleep.
I’ve been up for two hours, mind racing. It started with work stuff – overthinking things, as one tends to do when they should be sleeping instead. Then my thoughts quickly turned to my family, my 1-year-old son, in particular. And now, here I am, clicking away at the computer, unable to push aside the urge to start capturing the fleeting moments and record the memories that seem to be slipping through my fingertips.
Shane had his first year shots just yesterday, yet another reminder of how much time has passed since we brought him home from the hospital. I can’t stop thinking – obsessing – about the past 12 months. What happened to them? Where did the time go? As I lay in bed scrolling through my phone at pictures of my little man sleeping oh-so-peacefully at four months, five months, six… I felt that familiar pang of longing for my infant son. I want to say it seems like yesterday when I held his little 8-pound-14-ounce snuggly self in the hospital, yet I can hardly remember it. Instead, it’s a blur. Hours slipped away.
When I think hard, I remember what life was like this time last year. My son was freaking adorable, not even a couple weeks old. Maternity leave had just begun, though I knew I needed to savor every moment of it – because this was the last time I’d get a handful of weeks off to spend with a newborn. This was the last baby I’d have.
Brian’s parents were in town, and his mom had some unfortunately timed health issues and had to spend those first precious days of Shane’s life in the hospital herself. Things were a little crazy, but aren’t they always? We were happy to have the company of loved ones close by.
Still though, it’s all so foggy. It could’ve been the painkillers, I suppose. I have a hard time remembering the details that I want so badly to remember. I wish I had written them down.
I worked for Nordstrom at the time, and their 12-week maternity leave plus my four weeks of vacation were a dream come true. In the amazing Seattle summer, nonetheless. We were unusually blessed in that Brian and I could spend the entire summer together with our newly completed family of five. We knew we’d move back to Atlanta in the fall, so we were soaking up our time together in Seattle as much as possible in the meantime.
We would pack the kids up in our newly purchased minivan (yep, that happened) and go to the zoo or head to a food festival. Most often, we’d have a picnic at one of the many waterside parks lining the Puget Sound. I’d sit on a driftwood log breastfeeding Shane watching happily as Parker and Alexa strolled down the beach with Daddy, one on his hip, the other holding his hand.
Then, suddenly, it was over. We’d spent a day in August packing our house into a moving van. It all felt so rushed, though we’d been planning the move all summer. We’d donated the girls’ baby clothes – which was painful but seemed like the right thing to do. We donated Shane’s bassinet, because he was getting too big for it already.
I stood in the girls’ empty room, once filled with a crib and a toddler bed and happy decorations on the wall. At the time I was too exhausted to experience the emotion I can so easily draw up now if I just close my eyes and go back to that moment.
We’d brought Parker home from the hospital to that house. We watched Alexa become an older sister. Then Parker, too, when we brought Shane home. Two wonderful but painfully short maternity leaves in that house.
Brian and I had spent many an evening on the patio with cold brews after the kids were all in bed, enjoying the amazing Pacific Northwest weather and one another’s company.
It was a nice house, made beautiful by our memories.
Fast forward through our trip down south, back to Georgia. Back home. Fast forward through the few months we stayed with Brian’s gracious parents and yet another move to our new forever home.
So much has changed in the last year, and most of the time I am really happy. Tonight, however, I am a little sad. Nostalgic, I guess. So many hours have slipped away so quickly. I feel like I can’t remember nearly as many of the special moments as I wish I could. Instead, I have too many memories from my new job. I love working, but I wish I could compartmentalize that and give more of my time and my mind space to my family and the moments that really matter.
I don’t like to wallow though. I must. pull. myself. together.
So I’ll pull myself together. I’ll go back to bed to get an hour of sleep before I force myself to get ready for work in the morning. I’ll be happy at work and will learn the lessons that one does in a career for which she’s worked so hard. And I’ll compartmentalize better.
Most importantly, I’ll focus more of my energy on my family. From now on, I’ll write down those special moments.
Like this one, for example:
Parker is so funny lately. She’s been singing, a lot. I don’t know where she’s learned these songs – or even if they’re real songs – but she belts them out at the top of her lungs like it’s her job. For the first two plus years of her life, she was like an Alexa clone, following and copying every thing her older sister did. Now, little Parker’s developing a sense of self. She’s playing imaginative things in the empty tub while I get ready for work in my bathroom, Alexa nowhere in sight. She’ll run from one room to another, a full cast of imaginary characters along for the ride.
Alexa, on the other hand, has turned into quite the rebel. She’s pushing all the limits… and pushing all my buttons while she’s at it. Still as sensitive as ever, almost every night ends in tears followed by lots of “I do love you, Boo Boo… I just really need you to respect me / do what I say / brush your teeth / stop screaming / etc.” I don’t know how she grew up so fast.
Shane. Oh, Shane. I’m not admitting to having any favorites, but if I did…
The way Shane looks at me when I get home is frustrating, though. He’ll be crawling along happily on the floor, minding his own business and daydreaming about whatever babies daydream about, then he sees me and launches into an immediate wailing cry. I know it’s his way of saying, “pick me up NOW, mommy,” but why did he stop smiling every time he spotted me? Why must babies learn the cry-to-get-what-you-want trick? Anyway, I always go straight to the sink to wash off the germs from the office and scoop him up the second I’ve dried off my hands.
With Shane on my hip, I’ll walk around the house and sift through the mail, kiss the other kiddos, toss off my shoes. Then I’ll sit down on the couch and bounce Shane on my knee or kiss his little face a million times. He giggles and tosses his giant head back to look at my face. I love when he looks at me like that. I’m slightly worried he’ll hurt himself due to that heavy noggin flying backward so fervently, but that look in his eyes gets me every time. The joy on his face when he looks at me, his sweet smile, the ma-ma-mas he spews. I can’t get enough.
I went to his bedroom a few minutes ago; he seems to be having a hard time sleeping, like I am. I gave him a fresh diaper and some warm milk and held him for a minute. He made those cute little milk-guzzling noises – mmmmmhmm-slurp-mmmmhmm. I’m having a hard time resisting going back.
Anyway, the struggle is real, isn’t it? Momming is so hard sometimes, but simultaneously is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. It’s a beautiful and sad and lonely and fulfilling world. And I wouldn’t change a thing. Except if that change allowed me to spend more time with my family – I’d do that in a heartbeat.
I guess I’ll go try to get that hour of sleep now. Until next time, friends.