Monday, March 30, 2015

The Hamster Wheel Season or Groundhog Day, PBS Kids-Style

I haven't blogged in a while, which makes me a little sad. I also haven't had a complete thought, read an entire book, or had a conversation that didn't include an anecdote about someone's bowel movements in the last eighteen months. I'm not trying to complain, I'm just stating facts. Basically, I underestimated the game-changing nature of adding a second child to one's family. For those of you with more than two, I salute you. God absolutely knew what he was doing when he had me wait until thirty-one to have my first babe. That crazy dream of having multiple children was a bit of a stretch for me and luckily, he knew that before I did.

My children are five and one, which means I mostly do the same things every single day. I started to make a bulleted list, but I'm pretty sure your day will be just as full without knowing the minutiae of our very average schedule. And yet, I feel the need to share at least a few things that make up the hours of our mostly mundane (in a good way) lives. (For those of you who wonder why I don't return calls or email you back, perhaps this will clear things up.)

Basically, I make three meals a day, I provide juice and goldfish at various intervals, I fold laundry, I send people to time-out, I watch episodes of Sesame Street, I trim mini fingernails, I cut food into tiny pieces, I sweep up tiny pieces of food off the floor, I push people in the swing on sunny days and help draw pictures of robots on rainy ones. I dress wriggling little people, hug little people, break up small tiffs between little people, and then put all the small people to bed as soon as is reasonably possible. And then I fall asleep on the couch during an episode of Gilmore Girls with Matt, who arrived home just in time to see said little people before they fell asleep.

Sometimes it feels like this routine we are living is mind-numbingly repetitive. As if we are a PBS Kids version of the movie Groundhog Day. Or we're on a never-ending Disney cruise and Elmo is our cruise director (I realize I just mixed brands here. Please don't be offended.) I daydream about escaping the hamster wheel that motherhood can occasionally be for just a day or two, or a week if I'm feeling ambitious. Some days, I think I can actually feel my brain cells shrinking with every Curious George episode and I wonder if I will get back the ability to process abstract ideas or learn new concepts unrelated to new theories on potty-training. I wonder if I'm slowly becoming one of those women who collapses in on herself when her children leave home at eighteen because she hasn't had a thought outside of their well-being in nearly two decades. Will my personality survive the years of mostly only being known as "Mama"? Am I being more dramatic than you can handle right now? For the record, before this moment, I haven't had a minute alone for seventy-two hours and as it turns out, the baby monitor is letting me know that the baby is currently re-thinking her nap right now.

I know. I know. There are a thousand blog posts written on the hour by moms at home wondering the same things that I am and questioning the seeming monotony of what it is to do and say and possibly wear the same things day in and day out. And, to be honest, it's not terrible or miserable or sad by any stretch of the imagination. But, it can wear you down every now and then and make you wonder if the world outside is passing you by while you are wiping bottoms and answering "Why?" questions until literally the very second your child's eyelids close. Yes, the world is passing you by and yes, Apple will have come out with fourteen more versions of the iPhone before you come up for air in this parenting gig.

But, it's ok. You and I will catch up. And we will survive. And we will read books again and have thoughts again. And, defying reason, we will look back on these little years with nostalgia. The kind of nostalgia that motivates blue-haired women in the grocery store to encourage us to "Enjoy every minute because it goes so fast." I kind of hate those women, but I'm pretty sure I'll join their ranks in about twenty years.

Despite the fact that I check Groupon for last-minute deals to spa resorts on a semi-regular basis, I'm trying to remind myself that each day that passes is another thread in the fabric that makes up my little ones' childhoods. And each one matters. It all has value. My little people may barely remember any specific moments that make up these slow and somewhat uneventful days of this early part of their lives, and maybe I won't remember any of it either, but I'm hoping that all the hours that melt into the days that melt into the weeks and months and years of this season, that they'll all add up to their remembering that they were loved deeply and without conditions.

This seeming hamster-wheel life that repeats itself every morning and every night, it won't last. And I have a sneaking suspicion that when it's gone, I'm going to miss it desperately. Which is crazy. But also not, because there's a lot of simple beauty in these early days of childhood and I'm trying hard not to wish it away.

So, here's to you, fellow hamster-wheel mama and your little people who are doing the same thing you did yesterday and the day before and the day before that. I raise my daughter's empty sippy cup to you. We can do this. And when we're done in eighteen years, let's all get together and go to a spa resort for a month.



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