The payoff

My second child is a force. Trust me, I mean this in the most loving way possible.

He’s a handful and a half to parent – everyday single day. He’s also utterly hilarious and so full of happiness that he’s bursting with love at the seams. At just three-years old, my little guy lives life larger than any person I know on this planet.

This kid has kept me on my toes, and sometimes the edge of my sanity, since the day he was born. Unlike his older sister, he barely slept as a newborn. He started walking and talking early.

He’s also “that kid” at preschool. You know what I’m talking about, right? He’s that kid who impulsively hits another child in the sandbox, flushes something down the toilet, or calls someone a poo-poo face (okay, that one is kind of awesome).

But we also can’t get through dinner every night without cracking up at him and he doesn’t allow us to be lazy, ever. There’s no sitting back and taking it easy – we’re on the go, go, go.

In these three short years we’ve been to the emergency room for broken teeth (stumbled while carrying a metal water bottle), a concussion (ran headfirst into a bathtub), and sliced gums (ate pieces of a broken mug). He’s not clumsy. He moves at lightning speed, constantly.

But underneath all of this kid’s energy and vigor, he has a heart that’s soft and mushy. He will ask, even demand, hugs when he needs to slow down. He tells us when he’s feeling frustrated, angry, or sad.

At bedtime every night, he asks me to sing this to him.  Unfortunately, at 5:30 the next morning, he’s ready to go full speed again. I take a deep breath and climb out of bed, long before I’m ready.

But last night, Brain told me about a conversation they had in the car coming home from preschool:

“Daddy, I miss mommy.  I want her to pick me up from preschool.”

“Are you a momma’s boy?”

“Yes.”

And there it is. The payoff – the moment that will keep me going through the challenges that I know are ahead, like teachers who will complain about how he can’t sit still, or the first time he shows up drunk after a night out, or the first time his heart gets broken.

Because this nutty kid is mine.

Mommy monotony

Everything is the same, all the time.

This thought has been plaguing me for a while now, chipping away at me and every effort I make to be good: a good mom, a good wife, a good friend, a good daughter…

It’s not that I’m bored.  I don’t have time to be bored. God, how I wish I had time to be bored!

I’m just a little tired – of working so hard all the time. Sometimes I think this is the way it’s supposed to be, so why complain? We’re supposed to work hard, build a life, start a family, get a house. But once you have all of that, then what? This is the big lesson of my 30s. That all of the things other people say will bring you happiness sometimes don’t.

And here comes that thought creeping back into my head…”everything is the same, all the time.”

My husband joked, in a half-panicked tone (poor guy), that he thinks I’m having a midlife crisis. Man, I wish that’s what this was. That sounds fun. Fake boobs! Spray tan! Sports car! Fruity drinks! Instagram selfies! But that’s not what this is.

Friends tell me this is what happens as you start to emerge from the time when your kids are small – those ten or so years when you pour absolutely every ounce of everything you have in your soul into tiny people who crawl into your bed at 5:45 a.m. to brightly announce, two inches from your still asleep face, “I peed in the potty, it’s time to get up, mommy!” Disclosure: this happened today. Please, get me a coffee.

I love my kids like no one else. They are my whole world. But who am I now? Surely, even after a billion diaper changes, toddler tantrums, and sleepless nights, I’m more than just “mom”. Right? Or should that just be enough? For me, I suspect that it’s not.

I’m now trying to wage a conscious battle with that idea that I have to be good for everyone else, all the time. This is not easy though. Even as I’m writing this, I’m worrying about the words not being good enough for other people. But, I know that we all have inner struggles, even people who seem like they have their shit together. Some of those people are, in fact, deeply suffering.

This morning I searched online for advice on this topic. Frankly, the advice sucked. It went like this: you lost yourself after you had kids, but they bring you so much joy so get over it lady. How lame is that? Fuck you, Internet. You’re such a buzz kill.

The way I’m starting to see it, the answer to “everything is the same, all the time” must be change.

I don’t know what that means. But I know it doesn’t mean getting fake boobs. Yet.