Despite all the wonderful things in my life, I went through a hard time recently. And that hard time led to a short temper. That hard time blocked out most of the good and made me see much of the bad. Though my hard time had nothing to do with my children, every nose wiped, every question asked, every sandwich made, every milk poured became a “have to.” A burden.
It got to the point when I realized that I had to do something to change it or I would end up a warped, frustrated old (wo)man, in the words of the great George Bailey. I didn’t want to be Mr. Potter.
I, somewhat resistantly, decided to engage the “look on the bright side” theory. I went through the motions–and they were, in the beginning especially, just motions. I told myself that I chose this life. That my children won’t be young forever. That they’ll grow and then I’ll wish they were little. I told myself and told myself. I watched neighbors climb into cold cars in the early morning and basked in the warmth as I walked back inside with the newspaper. I tried to stay away from shoulds and shouldn’ts—should be happy, shouldn’t be annoyed. I simply thought new, happier thoughts.
It started to work one day, just a little. I compared the time raising little children to the time away at college. Boy, college went fast. It helped that my first child was now five years old, and I could start to see the end of the tunnel of sitting on laps, holding hands, and kiss attacks. Between those two thoughts–the comparison to college and the realization that my first little one was now 5–a thought burst into light. And it grew.
Not every second, but over the next weeks, I’d remind myself of this new notion every so often. I used other metaphors–like a vacation. We savor vacations. We count the days until a vacation. Then we bask in it, at first. Then we start the dreaded countdown to the end of the vacation, clinging to every last second.
I started to compare raising my little ones to a vacation. All the glories that come with the burdens will not last forever. Soon they’ll be in school and have larger groups of friends. Soon all of the questions and giggles and silly phrases will end. Soon they
won’t sit on my lap or let me hold their hands. And I’ll have to imagine what it would be like to attack them with kisses. I might even rejoin the masses who have to get up and truck to work each morning, answering to a much less adorable boss.
Boy, has this worked.
Now, more often than not, I feel like I can’t wait to be around my children. Like I’m the luckiest woman in the world. Like I want to hold on to every last second.
This all might seem trite, but only to those to whom this has never happened. When it happens, it goes from trite to life-changing.
But let me be clear: I’m not one more person telling you that you need savor it all because it goes so fast. I fully believe that we mothers especially have enough to do without adding all the guilt from the “shoulds.” But I was ready. And I needed it. I was spending too much time complaining and not enough time recognizing the life I have–the life my children have given me.
Between my recent vacation, the process of reuniting with the computer I left behind in Wales, and currently fixing said computer, which was damaged during shipment, I’ve been forced to take a step back from my previous schedule.
I am nothing if not diligent. It’s the word grade school teachers used most often to describe me on my report cards. I was proud at the time; now that pride is mixed with some wish I’d been a bit less boring.
But diligence has gotten me far. Without it, I wouldn’t have finished a novel. Without it, I won’t finish the editing.
I’ve certainly been diligent about this blog. Two times a week for almost a year, I’ve written essays–almost 90 of them. Often, the essays have involved interviewing other people or editing their stories.
My diligence is ’bout spent.
That’s not true, really. The only thing I love more than writing a novel is communicating with all of you on this blog. I’ll diligent the shit out of it. But, after my trip and these computer shenanigans (that’s a euphamism if I ever heard one), I need to dig in and get these novel edits finished.
So…I’m taking a break from my previous format and making no promises about meetings on Monday or otherwise. I might re-publish old posts, I might inundate you with photos of my recent trip to the United Kingdom. If you email me with your own true stories, I might post them. I will certainly read them diligently.
jessvealitzek [at] yahoo [dot] com.