Restless, frustrated. And somewhat defeated.
That’s the emotional state she reaches most days at around 1:00 PM or so, right after an unsuccessful attempt to get two adorably dependent human beings to eat something somewhat nourishing. But the refusal to consume anything but chocolate graham crackers in the shape of bunnies is absolutely insurmountable. Diluted juice and chocolate bunnies is lunch. Just kidding, the juice isn’t diluted.
Despite her insomniac-like behavior and ability to watch back-to-back-to-back indie films until 3:00 AM while “working”(albeit rather distractedly if at all), she still wakes up in the morning with rose colored glasses, fingers crossed that her husband will change some diapers before heading to work, and with hopes of accomplishing something – anything – today.
But as the day continues, today specifically, that “something” becomes less and less, until eventually the goal of the morning is just to brush her hair and put on some pants. That’s it. If she can accomplish that, then today is not wasted.
You see, there’s children. Two of them. Two perfectly molded creatures with wild hair, fair skin, and agendas that often conflict with that of their mother’s.
The boy, the three year old, wakes up excited proclaiming “it’s light outside!” Everyday, every single day, he is overwhelmed with elation simply because the sun decided to rise. The tech savvy toddler proceeds to run to the living room, turn on the TV, and watch some mainstream programming designed to teach him that forgetfulness is okay (thanks, Special Agent Oso). And from that moment on, he’s fine. He’s content. He won’t eat the waffles, peaches, or other breakfast-y treats his mother parades out of the kitchen, but that surprises no one.
The girl, the one who (despite her mother’s state of denial) will be turning two in just a few months, wakes up smiling at the person she sleeps next to on most nights. Her mom smiles, she smiles, they cuddle for a second, and then dad whisks her away for a quick diaper change. Dad then leaves, mom is up, the Keurig is put to work, and the little girl eats – you guessed it – chocolate bunnies.
So, why is it that the woman who bore these sweet babes succumbs to these immense feelings of restlessness, frustration, and defeat by early afternoon? Are the children inordinately difficult or mischievous? Well, not really, no.
It is clear that no cleaning, working, or any other such activity is going to happen. She considers lunch time a defeat and being in the apartment is just a reminder of all the things that need to be done… but will not be getting done. These clingy children just seem to need her, to demand her, to pull at her, scream for her.
It’s almost as if there is a mental fog. There’s a mental fog that settles in sometime after she’s had her morning cup of coffee and starts trying to do stuff. This fog that ends up overtaking her when she’s full of energy, but has to put away her mental to-do list because the children have other plans for her.
So she decides – let’s go somewhere. Anywhere.
She goes through the motions of dressing her children. Onesie, pants, socks, sweater. Wait, it’s cold. Leg warmers. T-shirt, hoodie, jeans, socks, cool Star Wars shoes.
She opens the door to the stairs leading down to the garage of which they live above, and descends with baby girl in arms and toddler in tow as he’s counting the steps. She feels slightly frustrated that he’s taking his time, but she knows if she hurries him he’ll just freeze, so she lets him be and thinks about where they’ll go.
Once they reach the bottom of the steps, she dashes to the car, pops the doors open and tells him to climb inside. She puts the little one in, swiftly buckling her into the nearly expired car seat, making a mental note that she needs to purchase a new one and wondering why the boy hasn’t climbed into the car yet.
Before closing the door, she tosses the diaper bag in, accidentally spilling the contents of the back pocket on the floor. Oh, well. She’ll get it later.
And then she sees him.
His identifiable crazy curly hair catches her eye and begs her to watch him. One, two, three bounces, a near slip, and he’s in the car. She sees him smile his single-dimpled smile that shows off tiny teeth that he inherited from his daddy. He’s happy because he found a fun toy to bring with him on their journey to who-knows-where. And he looks at her, she smiles, and he says “Hello, everyone.”
“Hello, everyone. I’m here. Mommy, I’m here.”
Isn’t it funny that on any other day she would have just walked on over, rushed him, plopped him in his seat and strapped him in… but today she stopped. Today, she froze long enough for her son to tell her something she needed to hear. Little does he know that his mere announcement of having entered the car was so much more than just that.
“Mommy, I’m here.”
She knows she has a problem.
She is inflicted with the inability to control her focus, she’s tunnel visioned, she can be obsessive. There are times where she can turn this off, she remembers what’s important, and she is present in the moment. Then there are times like today where she lets the fog cloud her ability to see her children, to realize that the to-do list doesn’t matter, that the work, the cleaning, all of that can wait.
“Mommy, I’m here.”
His dulcet voice resonates so deeply within her and she wonders how many times this has happened, how many times she’s gone through the motions, fed them breakfast, sat with them, dressed them, but was not fully present and aware. How many times was her mind focused on the work that needed to be done, the tasks that needed to be finished, the errands that had to be run?
It doesn’t matter how many times, it just happens. She knows it happens, it happens to everyone. The frustration, the restlessness, the defeat. It’s human, it’s real life.
But she’s just thankful for the moments of stillness, moments where the rest of the world is turned off and she’s focused on what matters. It was a moment when she chose to be still, chose to be present, that allowed her to open her eyes, her ears, and her heart and be reminded that her children are here. They are here, they are now.
The rest can wait.