New Season

Something fantastic is happening within the walls of my everyday life. Though the weather says Summer and the calendar says Autumn, our life is accepting the contradictions and melding into a strange, wonderful trifle of peach-raspberry-pumpkin-spice pie.

Yesterday morning a small, precious creature rose from his bed, used the bathroom, changed his clothes, and tromped downstairs to find his brother, who had engaged in a similarly self-directed ritual half an hour before. There was no struggling to climb into my bed, no sweet cuddling and twirling my hair, no early-morning screaming, no nursing, no heart-piercing dread of him falling down the stairs, no mid-night panic that he might have died in his sleep.

My youngest stands at the doorway between baby and child. And it’s amazing. Incredible to watch, intense to fathom, and lovely to experience. The steady flood of adrenaline that has colored my life for almost seven years has slowed. Anxiety pumps through me infrequently now. I pause. I breathe. I blink.

I didn’t remember what blinking felt like. Doesn’t that sound twisted? I had forgotten to blink, or couldn’t blink, or wouldn’t allow myself. To blink.

It’s quite nice, I must say, to stop the visual input, lubricate my eyes, and rest my brain. For a whole second every now and again. Quite delightful.

Last week the two boys and I walked into a restaurant and I asked them to sit down. They did. And I dropped my shoulders. I ordered burritos, paid, got water and salsa. During that two full minutes, I didn’t panic that they were falling down and cracking their heads, that they would fight, that they were bugging the other customers, or that they would run out the door and I’d lose them forever. I looked over once or twice, and they were sitting. And talking.

As though they were real, live humans.

Life is more like life now and less like a muscle-clenching jolt through incessant struggle and fear and joy and crying. Mothers with tiny new babies and precocious toddlers know the unblinking cycle of love and panic and love and panic and love and panic and frustration and love and panic. But elementary school and preschool have a different rhythm. The pace still daunts, but there are breaks for air. Time to drink water, enjoy hugs, breathe through frustration, and hold conversations.

This world is foreign, but I no longer feel as though I’m a human forced to live amongst bats.

My life is increasingly mine: a three-dimensional structure to layer and paint and plan. And inhabit. Time no longer flies by with me hanging on for dear life. I am in my skin, I own my voice, and I’m creeping toward a time when I will again make powerful decisions about who I am and what I want.

I’m not saying my children stole my power, though the sensation I’m finally shaking would make more sense if I were a vampire and they had mirrors strapped to their heads. And bottoms. And feet. I’m saying that I chose to parent in a particular way, and that I won the Lottery of Intense Children, the result of which is that my ability to exist in my own life has simply been missing for seven-and-a-half years.

And now that I’m coming back from life in a distant, alien land studying in a  foreign language to be someone I’ve never actually intended to be,  I have choices about how I’ll put the pieces of my life together. This is decision time. I’m debating returning to full-time corporate work. I’m contemplating law school. I’m even thinking of going back to teaching. I’m finishing my novel (yes, still). I’m both taking and turning down freelance work.

So why continue the blog? I began this blog five years ago because I felt lonely and frustrated as an intensely driven, full-time parent of a highly sensitive toddler. In moments of solitude I used this space to process my thoughts and feelings. I wrote my frustrations and my triumphs. I found ways to make going crazy sound funny. I vented online to keep from spiraling deeper into depression.

And the blog found an audience. As my son grew and changed and turned our family upside down in all the ways a small child can, I wrote and was heard. I helped readers and they helped me. We became a community and it felt nice to talk with the kind of people I never found in person while we lived in Southern California. The blogosphere kept me sane, so I did my best to write well for them.

When we moved to Northern California and when Butter was born readers were loyal and kindly listened while I stumbled about, trying my best, failing, and trying again. I wasn’t as funny as I had been with only one child, but I tried. And it was enough. Because with two small children and a nighttime freelance career, all you can do is try.

Or drink.

But the heart of this blog—loving my children and clawing toward an unseen buoy while fighting the upheaval to my sense of self—might not be my truth any more. I’ve accepted the major sacrifices and changes that parenthood on my terms has wrought, and I’m beginning to see a richly warm light at the end of a long, dirty, dark, wonderful but claustrophobic tunnel.

So is aging out of a major phase a reason to kill the blog? Nobody here naps any more. I’m not writing at naptime. I’m writing and researching and parenting and cooking and avoiding and volunteering and striving and observing when I can, without marking time based on what tiny creatures do. That which now feels more relaxed and less frantic might be less interesting.

Is that enough reason to stop blogging?

I hope not.

Because this new feeling? This sense that I might actually make it and that my children might actually make it and together we might actually make something we’re proud of? This is an experience I’d really like to share.

I hope you’ll stick around to hear what happens.

17 thoughts on “New Season

  1. I read through this quickly, scared that it was gearing up for a blog farewell! I’m delighted and relieved that you’ll still be writing here. I am an awful commenter, but a hugely loyal reader and fan.
    I, too, have begun to blink again now and then, and the extra eye lubrication, without any sobbing required, is a truly remarkable thing! I have no doubt that you will continue to inspire me in this new, blink-a-bit phase, and I am totally looking forward to hearing all about it.

    • Macondo, it’s lovely to hear from you! I’m thrilled that you’re blinking, too. Hope your boys are finding themselves, too. It’s all pretty impressive, this new phase.

  2. i. love. this.

    and i have to say, i was kind of panicking the whole way through, thinking i was reading a “see ya!” post. thank goodness you are sticking around. i’ve been reading for four years, and i’ll probably remain childless for at least the next four and the four after that. but i adore your blog and i’m so happy to be around to see what happens next.

    • What a kind thing to say! Thank you!
      I thought about killing the blog, but why? A journal is a journal, and just because I had a day of calm doesn’t mean it won’t get crazy tomorrow, right? Besides, parenting while writing a novel in law school and working full time will be crazy enough for a post, I think. ;-)

  3. Man, 7 and 3 are awesome ages together. My kids finally play well together and aren’t totally needy in every possible way. It’s fantastic. I am hoping this trend continues and that I can relax my shoulders a little more day by day. By the time Butter and my own Youngest are 7, we will fucking have it made. :D Yay! We didn’t die trying!

  4. I’ve moved more times than you’ve blinked! I always come back to the “life is what happens when you are busy making plans” saying. So very true.

    We’re on our own journeys but you are stuck with me sister. Not going anywhere, figuratively and literally now. Buying a house soon! I added “settling down” to my life repertoire. Who woulda thunk that? And in a place I love dearly. Like a permanent vacation home. Even my pup is happy here.

    I’m still a unicorn. But this new life has me being a unicorn in different ways. I feel appreciated and needed for my skills. It’s been 10 years since I felt valued for my knowledge. I’m not the exception anymore. I’m not the only woman. I am not treading water endlessly to keep from drowning in other people’s pools. I’m right where I belong, finally. I was always ahead of my times, but I found a place that was also ahead. I no longer have to wait for the world to catch up. Everyone has to wait on me to move ahead some more.

    I feel that “I can make it” feeling now too. I am doing it. And breathing at the same time. Amazing that.

    w00t to us!

    • So. Freaking. Cool.
      Yay for Unicorn! And for Unicorn’s doggy! And for a workplace that deserves you and doesn’t wear you down to a nub who questions your chosen profession!

  5. Lately I find myself holding my youngest tighter than ever so I can cherish the last of these toddler moments, and yet I think that restaurant scene you describe sounds blissful. Excited for you and this new chapter – glad you will keep blogging, naptime or not!

    On a separate note, this whole time I thought you were on a hiatus Somehow when you had your error or migrated your theme or whatever, you stopped appearing in my reader. So I shall resubscribe and see if that fixes it!

    • I see from my handy dandy thingamawhatsis that you and seven spammers signed up to follow my blog today.

      Really, it’s tremendously..okay moderately…sad that my genius is wasted on fake accounts that will never read the posts they’re sent. Delightful people like BananaWheels are welcome here. But fake followers? Ugh.

  6. I feel like I am straddling an interesting place in our lives. My boys are quickly moving towards preteen-dom. My daughter is suddenly a preschooler. We have freedom and no freedom all at the same time. I think we all struggle with writing and our purpose. I am still trying to figure mine out!

    • Straddling is an interesting place, indeed. I always feel as though I’m trying desperately to get a toe-hold, so when I actually feel the sand beneath my hands and knees, I flop around a bit, amazed there’s actually substance under there. Land ho! ;-)

  7. Pingback: Sulking | Naptime Writing

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