My youngest two are now two years old. It’s a huge milestone, such a line in the sand between their babyhood and toddlerhood. But the two year mark has always been a big milestone for me too. It’s when I begin emerging from the hibernation I never knew I’d be deep down in when I had children. Even now, after three pregnancies and four children, it surprises me. I cocoon up with them and give myself over almost completely to them, and I enjoy it like nothing else in life.
But now that that line in the sand is drawn, now that I really do need to refer to them as toddlers, I’m starting to get a bit antsy about my personal achievements. A little fire always gets lit under my butt indicating that now, it’s time. It’s when things like not having much in the way of personal space and uninterrupted time to think one complete thought begin to really niggle at me. It’s when I need clear some time to do the work that builds the kind of life I want to raise them in. It’s when I need to start planning for more than just motherhood. It’s when I need to start reacquainting me with myself.
I was frustrated today that I couldn’t read one page of a beautiful cookbook that I’ve been picking up and moving from place to place for weeks now with the intention to do more than a quick flick through. So I stayed up late when all I’ve felt this week is bone-deep exhaustion, to read in the almost dark and silent house, rain set in outside the window. I just couldn’t go to sleep when the children did, I needed some time awake without tending to someone else. And, last week I saw a concert and felt like just-myself for the first time in a long time - not someone’s mama for one night - and it’s not entirely sitting well with me. I can’t quite put my finger on what that concert sparked yet, but I’ll get to the bottom of it.
Feelings like this are incredibly conflicting for me. First and foremost, in almost all things, I am a mother. I knew I was destined for motherhood for as long as I can remember, it was all I dreamed of, and I got that beautiful dream of mine four times over - more than I could have imagined. I’m grateful every single day for them. So feeling the need to nurture some of my own independence feels at conflict with giving myself over to motherhood. I don’t ‘need a break’ from my children, instead I need just time for me, to do all the other things that set my heart on fire, to be deliberate in living this life. Especially so I can model a better example for them. But setting myself up in hibernation with them for two years also sets a precedent in our family life that I need to shake up a little. Right now I’ll be grateful for an hour or two each week to work through some thoughts to start marching in a slightly new direction.
Baby steps though, or, toddler steps, right?