I went out to dinner with a friend I’ve known since we were kids. It was so good for my soul to reconnect and remember there are all these other things about me besides being a mom.
I’m living my dream right now. I’ve got an amazing husband and beautiful, healthy children. I’m with them every single day. It’s both everything I dreamed of and nothing like I imagined. And I’m so very grateful.
Having dinner with my friend made me realize something- even though this is exactly where I want to be, my world is so small right now. I’m so IN IT day to day, this kind of thick haze of raising small children, that I didn’t realize just how small my world can feel.
Every day is centered around my little family. Every day I walk the dog. I get the kids dressed, fed, cleaned. I keep them entertained with toys and books, play dates and classes. I schedule doctor’s appointments and bring them in when they’re unexpectedly sick. I get them to bed and wake with the baby at night. I hug them when they’re sad, and sit with them when they’re angry.
I build block towers and play games, always trying to invent new ones that can involve a precocious three year old and a curious seven month old. My favorite is “giant baby” a game where my three year old builds a tower and the “giant baby” enters dramatically in my arms and knocks it down.
Every single day I’m packing and repacking snacks, loading and unloading the stroller. I’m coordinating drop offs and picks ups. I’m trying to get the baby down for a nap while also keeping the toddler entertained enough not to interrupt and wake him. I’m taking deep breaths when the constant demands of small children begin to wear away at me as my body cries out for more sleep but that’s just not possible.
I met my friend for dinner in midtown which meant I strolled through Times Square on my way. I can’t imagine a bigger more bustling place than that. The stark contrast between the loudness and bustle there and the loudness and bustle of my little home hit me. “Oh right”, I thought, “there’s a whole other world out there.”
Parents of grown children are often quick to tell parents of young children to “enjoy every minute” and to savor it because it passes so quickly. I wonder if they forget how slowly the days pass when you’re in it. I wonder if they remember that sometimes daddy coming home ten minutes later than expected can feel like an eternity. Or how a week without school can feel so drawn out that each day feels like a month. It can feel like I’m sinking sometimes and I’m not sure how to stay afloat… but somehow I do.
I know what they mean though because I look back at my days when my daughter was a baby and wonder where it all went. How is she almost four? If I could, I’d go back and live just one day when she was a baby and soak it all in. I did my best to be present at the time, but there’s something so sweet about nostalgia.
Mine is a small world now; it feels like the size of the tip of a pin. I know as my children grow my world will widen and eventually it will be big again and include more of the “me” things. For now, I’ll wade my way through. I’ll soak it all in and forgive myself when I can’t soak it in because I just have to survive.
My world will be big again. For now though, I love living in my own small world. And years from now when I see a mother of young kids I won’t tell her to “savor every moment.” I’ll tell her “I know it’s hard and you’re doing such a great job.” And I’ll smile to myself and feel the ache in my heart that misses my small precious world.