A few days ago I posted on Facebook that it was 1:30pm, I was still in my pajamas, I was doing things around the house, like laundry and changing sheets and Alec was following me around the whole day. I have to admit, I was a bit surprised by the comments I received about this, most of which were incredibly sweet and positive and indicated that others wished they were able to do the same things. I am sure that for someone working, getting up early, with a very structured day, a day of loosey-goosey working-in-my-pajamas activities would sound appealing, but I have to be honest with you: when I posted that I was sort of bored (not that there wasn't anything to do, just not anything that I was looking forward to doing), annoyed that I hadn't found time to shower and get dressed yet, tired of holding a clingy baby and a little lonely.
My friend Judy says it best: There's no utopia, baby. Someone else's life/schedule/stressors always look better than your own.
On that day, I would have really enjoyed being sort of put together- at least bathed and dressed in nice clothing, doing something I was getting paid for, interacting with other adults, working on something that was not immediately going to be undone.
And certainly I understand that I have an immense amount of freedom to create my own structure and projects and socialization time. And the ability to bathe and dress myself however I want. I can recreate that for myself, if my baby is able to tolerate me doing that.
But the last few years of my life have been a little like living in an altered state, filled to the brim with needy babies and busy school-age children and broken-up nights of sleep and incredible happiness and fullness and a lack of day-to-day structure and meeting the needs of four other people first and feeling overwhelmed and absent-minded and constantly being interrupted while I'm doing anything and loving things deeper than I've ever felt and experiencing totally uneven levels of productivity. It's like a dreamy, swirly, foggy- and pleasant- universe. I am really only held accountable to my babies, and my husband, and myself, and I have tremendous amounts of leeway to do things when I want, how I want, or not at all. I am protected quite a bit from the big, bad world outside and can easily be comforted by my cozy familiar surroundings. But with that comes this sense of isolation, and the sense of never getting anything done, especially since my clean kids get dirty again, the food I cook gets eaten, the clothes I wash are worn, and the items I pick up always manage to find their way out again.
It all seems able to slip through my fingers, especially time, and while I remember clearly when I stopped working to have Jenna, now I look at portraits of my babies on the wall, and they seem so incredibly big and grown up and I wonder where the time has gone.
And I realize: it has swirled around me all this time and I have been swimming in it, day after day, hour by hour, making and growing these wonderful children and here they are, happy and healthy and seemingly not headed towards being serial killers. Not yet, at least. And this is my work.
A few weeks ago at a party someone met my kids for the first time. "You have beautiful children," she said. "Thanks," I answered. "I grew them myself!" And I felt kind of silly for saying that afterwards, but then I kind of liked it. I did grow these kids myself, and I am pouring my heart and soul into them every day.
The trouble/curse/blessing with being home with little kids and a baby is that the day stretches out before you, full of promise. Or boredom. Or frustration. Or magic. And some days you don't shower, or get as much done as you thought you could or thought you should, and you are rushed or looking for something to do or someone to talk to. It's on you.
You are the master of that ship, and responsible for whether it- and you-sink or swim. I definitely know I am swimming, doing fine, very happy with my place in life. But there are some days when you are barely treading water, and a different life looks pretty good... just for that day.
There's no utopia, baby.