Yesterday I was flat. Flat for a whole number of reasons that I couldn’t quite place. I had to think about what was missing even as its absence gnawed at me.
Connection was missing, between myself and my husband, which came down to busyness and tiredness rather than lack of love.
Variety was missing, or at least I couldn’t find it under the piles of mess I was sure I’d cleaned up yesterday.
Exercise was missing, in amongst all that needed to be done, I felt sluggish, and that sluggishness kept propelling me towards chocolate.
Chocolate was, sadly, not missing.
I felt, when it really came down to it, that I was missing. Like I had misplaced myself somewhere amongst the “to do” list of every day, and the nightly preparation for it to start again.
You see, every day, mothers and fathers do something quite remarkable… they care about someone else more than themselves. They find themselves noticing things that their kids would like, preparing things to make them smile, finding things that will help them feel fulfilled. They hide wonder in every day and help their child find it.
There is so much joy in caring for others. SO MUCH. There is a gift of perspective in it, of patience, of belonging. It’s a role without comparison and it gives me immeasurable happiness. But sometimes, just sometimes, I miss the days when I was only looking after me.
When I would wake early to run on the beach and swim even in the winter, when I would have a clean house and car free of popcorn and stray socks, when I could safely pee without a toddler dismantling something in the next room, when my nights would be spent laughing with friends, lost in books or dancing the tango. When I had enough spare time to read textbooks just because, or to write endless emails in languages I didn’t quite understand.
I missed that me yesterday, because from where I was in my flatness the grass back then seemed so much greener.
Then late at night, with my babies in bed, I watched a clip called “This is Water”. It was about perspective. And I needed it. Because it reminded me that the ‘me’ I was missing that day, used to ache for everything I have now.
It reminded me how much I wanted this gorgeous family, this wonderful husband, this beautiful house. How much I wanted these messy, smelly dogs and the couches now piled with the washing of the people I love. It reminded me how much I wanted to grow and learn, and how I had learned more from these past five years of motherhood than I ever learned in a book or a yoga class.
The frustration at my son’s cranky mood faded, when I remembered how I had always thought I wasn’t a patient person. And here I was, being one, even when I’d rather not be.
I woke up this morning with the pile of washing still to fold, and the dishes still in the sink. My husband and I were still busy and my kids still did their best to push my buttons.
But I wasn’t missing anymore. I was back here in the thick of it. Frustrated and happy and inspired and wanting more. I’d made a decision to make more time for the things that mattered, but also not to worry so much about all the stuff that didn’t.
Because we’re like chameleons, all of us. We might not look the same as we did a week ago, or a year ago, or as we will in the future. We might not have the same things to say or the same group of friends, but that’s kind of the point. Because we change to fit in with where we are, without ever really changing at all. We are us, vibrant and whole, and able to take this day before us on with gusto.
It cannot make us less.
And every bit of ourselves we have given our children, every ounce of patience we have earned, every mess we have cleaned up as though this time it will actually STAY clean, has given us more perspective, more richness to the colours we can wear whenever the situation calls for them.
There is a story in every day, and every one has a moral, every one has a challenge, every one has humour and every single one has a happy ending hidden in there somewhere. Sometimes it’s easy to see, and sometimes you need to try a little harder… but you can. The days that have come before it have taught you how.