Today my girl is out in the world, with friends, without me. Today I went and got a prenatal massage by myself. Today I came home, where my husband was working and talking on the phone, to a noticeable silence.
Being a mother can be overwhelming. Being a homeschooling parent sometimes feels more so. Every day, almost 24/7 with my girl definitely has me craving and carving out time for just me. Time to go out with girlfriends or my husband. Time for her to have some solo play time while I paint or write or read or stare numbly at Facebook. Time to find our separateness, our individual places in our worlds.
This separate time is almost always found one of two ways: I leave the house (with or without her) or we are both home but in different spaces.
Being in the house without her here is odd. I feel melancholy. There is a bitter-sweetness to this silence. It is not the quiet that is disturbing: it is beautiful to be able to have complete thoughts, to finish small projects in a matter of minutes instead of hours, to have a conversation with my husband while he is on his lunch break that is complete without interruptions or a need for either of us to divert our attention from each other. No, what is bringing on the sadness is her missing energy, her presence, her essence. Her herness that is generally by my side in one form or another every day and has been for years.
It is the realization that she is growing up. She turns 7 on Friday. The anniversary of her birth is both joyous and triggering: the gestation, labor, birth and immediate post birth hours filled with fear and pain and trauma and almost devastation; and yet, despite the odds and everything we were told here she is, two days shy of 7 and off at a friend’s house playing without me. Breaking into her own world and life, taking those tiny steps away from me. She is no longer a baby, and as I sit here and type I know that at some point most days will feel this emptiness, most days she will not be in our home: she will be sleeping in her own home, living away from us, having moments that we will never know about because she doesn’t see them as significant enough to share with us, to tell us about or because she wants to keep them to herself and away from us and our comments or concerns.
I wonder what the energy of her brother will be like and how it will the space, for a while, when she is gone; if her absence will be felt so acutely.
I wonder at this sadness and these tears falling as I allow my mind to wander into the future and imagine. In this process of finding myself again, of becoming myself again, there is a grief of what is being left behind. Often in those moments of feeling overwhelmed by the needs of our children we can’t even imagine a sadness over having some space to breathe, to think, to imagine, to dream. Those moments consume us with the lack of sleep and the need to wash clothes and cook meals and tend to the needs of our young. Those moments can bring forth a resentment towards these young beings in our care and nostalgia for life before children when we could talk with our partner for hours or stay up all night dancing with girlfriends and not needing to be out of bed the next day before noon or actually cook a meal for anyone.
Then we find ourselves in the quiet, the silence. Their energy missing and there is an aching in our hearts. We grieve how quickly it has all passed and know the time will only continue to race forward. We promise we will savor every moment from now on and we set ourselves up to fail, because the truth is those overwhelming moments come too fast and too often and these quiet moments are too rare.
This is part of motherhood, of parenthood. This is part of our evolution as we encourage our beautiful children to grow and expand and become independent and individual, away from us. This is part of our transformation as we expand our own definition of self beyond “mama” and back out into the world of own passions and dreams. This is the ebb and flow of our, and their, being and becoming.