Being a parent is hard to put into words.
Because it's this wonderful awful simple complicated beautiful ugly experience. It's a life blessing but a daily struggle. Some find themselves parents quickly and unexpectedly while others toil and wait for what I trust feels like an eternity.
I absolutely love being a parent. It has redefined me and given me a purpose I didn't know I was supposed to have. Sure, I'd always imagined myself as a Mom. But I never knew what that meant. I had no idea the sacrifice it would take - of my body, of my heart, of my life - to birth and parent two beautiful little girls.
And with all the circumstances the different mothers of the world find themselves in, I never want to speak ill of motherhood. Yes, we all complain. Yet I am keenly aware that for every public complaint I make, there is a mother somewhere out there clutching at a childless void in her life.
But I'd like to confess something here.
Seeing as this is Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom.
And I believe in sharing our stories, good or bad.
So here we go:
Many days I find myself missing my pre-kids life.
I share this sentiment with great hesitancy, for fear of judgement or retribution, though I know I'm not alone in these feelings.
I'd been turning a thought over and over in my head for a while. I couldn't put my finger on what it was that was bugging me, and every time I kept trying to get clarity the feelings and thoughts stayed vague and hazy. Until one day the realization pulled perfectly into focus, and everything I couldn't put my finger on was suddenly under my thumb. These feelings that had evaded me were suddenly clear and bright, with words and forms.
I missed my former life.
I missed us.
Now in no way do I mean to say I regret having kids. Absolutely not. My kids are my life and my heart, and I would be lost without them. I wouldn't trade them in for the world. We are a family: Me, Hubby, Chica and Bug. They make life sweeter, and I've learned more about myself in the past four-and-a-half years than I ever have before.
But, as my friend Jo-Lynne once so eloquently described, we are in a season.
And in this season, we are very kid-focused. The girls are still young, and need everything from us. They need us to feed them, clothe them, bathe them, teach them, provide for them, protect them. Everything in the day is a process: grocery shopping, preparing meals, cleaning the house, leaving the house, car rides, meal time, bath time, bed time. Nothing is met without resistance. Each girl in her own way is trying to stake her independence: Chica as a growingly independent preschooler, Bug as a Terrible Two.
Many nights, Hubby and I gaze wearily at each other over our dinner, trying to drown out the screaming and complaining. I attempt to ignore the food that has been thrown on the floor, he tries to tell me about his day. Outings are fun but never without some struggle: a child becomes instantly overtired and disagreeable. A simple grocery trip dodging glances from irked patrons not sure what to make of our Side Show Act.
Nothing is easy. And everything is about the kids.
In these moments I've found my mind elsewhere, yearning for a time not so long ago. A time before we had kids. A simple time we took for granted: when we could come and go as we please, sleep in late, spontaneously go away for the weekend. There are times when the status update from a friend without kids pops up in my newsfeed of a mid-week dinner out in the city or a random Saturday getaway.
And I get jealous.
Hubby and I were married for about 11 months when we found out that we were, quite unexpectedly, pregnant with Chica. We'd only just started adjusting to married life when we thrust into making the transition to parents. We had a very short season of Us, and it involved Hubby completing his Student Teaching and me changing jobs. There was very little spontaneity, no tropical paradise getaways.
So I long.
I long for lazy Saturday mornings snuggled against him under the warm comforter, deciding how to spend the day. Days of strolling farmers markets without strollers or needing to get back before nap time. Lunches in cafes with uninterrupted conversation. Ending the night out on the town with friends unfettered by the ticking clock of a babysitter.
There are times I resent this. I resent the short season of carefree newlywed life we had. And now, as the parent of two very active little girls, I find myself daydreaming of Friday Happy Hours and weekend road trips to Vermont. Even as I type the words, I am ashamed of how it sounds: whiny and unappreciative.
Yet I do appreciate. I appreciate the gift of parenthood, how it has changed me, how it has changed Hubby. The indescribable joy my daughters bring me, even in the midst of the daily struggles and frustration. The love that has grown between us, because of them.
Because I know it's a season. A season I need to enjoy, to savor. And although it is only in small pieces, I see semblances of my old life. Now that the girls are older, we are able to steal away for evenings out, for overnights away.
And one day, I am quite sure, I will miss this season.
So despite my longing, I am learning to live in the season and enjoy the moments. To steal glances at Hubby from across a room scattered with toys. To hold his hand as we chase giggling girls throughout the mall. To make a point of saying, "I love you" each day.
To know we are in this together.
And that we are always us.