Though there are extra kisses, extra thank yous, and extra snuggles, there is also extra work, more than double the responsibility, and days like yesterday.
Days when there is an 8:15 bus to catch to a 9:20 appointment and Eldon not only wants to sleep in but flat out refuses to get dressed in protest. Refuses because he is tired of doctor visits that occupy our entire day and because he knows that the day will require a level of patience that even I struggle with.
I lose my temper because we're late. Because we can't miss the bus because I don't have the gas money to drive us. Because I don't want to go any more than he does and the guilt of dragging him along again is making me feel like an awful parent. Because while I know that I'm a good mom, I have to be more than that and I am constantly reaching for that unobtainable goal of filling in the blanks for him.
He is bored. I am tired.
We feed off of eachothers' frustrations until we are just complacent. Staring out the window in reflection and wishing we could take the moment back. Rushing through traffic, hoping that we make it in time.
I start to tear up when the "very limited parking" sign guards the entrance to the parking garage. Not because we can't reschedule this appointment (we can) but because the nervous look on Eldon's face tells me that I'm being too hard on him.
He's only four.
We race (literally running) down five flights of stairs faster than we should for his short legs and my full term baby belly.
We barely get there in time to find the last two seats and breathe simultaneous sighs of relief.
He reaches over and grabs my hand. A truce.
I wipe away tears and tell him I'm sorry. For losing my temper but also for so much more than that. He apologizes for his mean words, and refusing to put his clothes on, and snuggles up next to me.
The appointments are long, the four year old restless. He pushes boundaries and buttons and won't sit still. Having battled a long night of insomnia, I am too tired to reasonably redirect him, so I just sit there in the room and zone out.
We grab an overpriced lunch in the cafeteria and he takes advantage of my zombie stare while he spills milk down his chin and chews with his mouth open. I am present enough to tell him that he has lost his dessert privilege, and he responds with something snotty like "nuh-uh"...I can't really remember. I wasn't really there.
We catch the bus back and snag the last seat for the hour long ride home. I hold all 37 pounds of him on my lap, which he shares with a belly that feels 37 pounds itself. I breathe in his hair while the contractions start. I muse over how funny (and not funny) it would be if my water were to break on public transportation as Eldon drifts off to sleep against my chest.
We eventually drag ourselves into the house, tired and trying to figure out if I am in really in labor. We climb onto the couch defeated and rest just in case.
Turns out, I wasn't. It was 2:00 and the day was just beginning.
These days aren't the norm...but there are days like this. I am sure there will be more. Days when the money is too little, and the demands too large. Days when I don't miss my marriage, but my life before. When there was another set of hands, and the work was shared. Days when there was a "five o' clock" and somebody to handle the wrestling and football playing when I can't.
Days when I could ask somebody else to run to Target, instead of packing up my tired kid and waddling in pain through the aisles for those last minute labor bag items.
The reward is bigger, though. And I can sip a cup of tea at the end of the day feeling triumphant. Knowing that even though my tax return is smaller this year, I filed it alone. With just my information and it is being direct deposited into MY account for the first time in 5 years.
Knowing that this little family of three is entirely mine to shape, mold, and build is a lot of responsibility but the freedom feels infinite.
Knowing that there are rough days ahead, but that eventually love wins and while we lack, we do not lack for love. Ever.
My boys will be ok. I will be ok. We will all be stronger and some day, we will look back wondering how on earth we made it through.
I know from my own childhood, that the answer will be love.
|Honest picture, but I love it. Stretch marks and all.|
I refuse to wish these days away, even the ones that suck. Even when it all seems unfair and overwhelming, we will never get this time back and as every old lady likes to remind me, my kids will be grown "before I know it."
I will cut myself a little slack, and give myself the credit I deserve.
These days are ours, sucky ones and all. We learn, we grow, and today we make time for Starbucks and snuggles.