There is no longer a baby sleeping in my closet. The number of toys Ella has to entertain her as tripled, at least. Everything is ours, I know where it all goes, and I have my prized mantle back. Yes, I missed my fireplace mantle.
I have a lot of feelings about this first week we’ve just had. In fact, this is the second draft because how I felt on Friday when I wrote the first draft is no longer how I feel right now. And sharing anything with outdated honesty didn’t feel right.
But I won’t leave you hanging. Here’s the gist of my first draft: the first week was terrible. Our home was like a haunted house, with grass up to our knees and dust and cobwebs clouding the air we breathed. Then Jack got sick which led to Ella getting sick which got my husband sick. So I basically had three kids (do all men become turn of the century orphans begging for porridge when they have a cold??? Asking for a friend).
But more than all of this annoying stuff, there had been this twinge of pain, this weird undercurrent of sadness and I couldn’t figure out what it was doing in my first week home. The week I’d been driving myself towards all summer was so much harder than it had any right to be. After all Matthew was home with me, and even though he was sick, he was more helpful than when he was in California. I hardly made dinner or gave baths and I had plenty of time to myself. Still, the sadness lingered and transformed into this strange fragility I couldn’t explain. What should have been pinpricks felt like fatal blows. Minor annoyances felt like end of the world catastrophes. Where there should have been a huge sigh of relief, there were only slumped shoulders in defeat.
That was the first draft.
Here is the second draft: the first week was terrible and now I know why and I shouldn’t have been so surprised.
I grew a lot this summer but I didn’t stop being myself. I became more adaptable but change is still so hard for me, even changing back to normal. Saying goodbye to my parents and their home was much harder than I had anticipated. They left for work, embracing me and Ella and praying over us. Matthew and Jack were still in bed but they prayed over them, too. When the boys were up and it was time for us to go, I looked back at the house and this rush of gratitude and the first inkling of this twinge came over me.
The 8 weeks I spent there on my own were difficult but there’s a reason I went there, a reason I left Ella’s toys and my precious mantle.With my parents, I was sheltered. Matthew leaving sort of set me adrift and I found safe harbor with Mom and Dad. And I was responsible for Ella and Jack but it kind of felt like I didn’t have to captain my own ship. I had the infinitely wise and sturdy hands of my parents for that.
Now, Matthew and I are in charge again. A big change. To combat the stress and sadness of it all, I fell into the old pattern of being lazy. I always think doing less and performing beneath my own capacity will make me feel better and I’m always proven wrong. Being present and embracing my role as a mom make me feel better. Being lazy, doing less, shirking my responsibilities– that was too much change for me.
Matthew is back at school now, forcing me to get back in full swing and everyday, I’m feeling better. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, embracing my life rather than fighting it, and that’s the only cure for what I’ve been feeling. Work is the only way to feel strong again.
Being in charge again is hard but being together again is right. We have to steer our own ship but I know we’ll settle in and set sail on our own without fear, looking forward with a smile at the changing seas.