I was talking to some friends the other day about how the past few months have been crazy, and even stressful in some ways as we try to deal with the logistics of three kids, work, elderly dogs and us all sharing a bathroom with a doorknob that regularly falls off. But that at the same time I’ve been feeling deliriously happy about my life. My family. The future.
It’s a nice justapostition. Yesterday, for instance I was driving Gabriel to school, and we were running a little late, because—for one thing—he had discovered a piece of his artwork in the backseat and the tape he’d applied for some aesthetic reason was peeling off it and he needed to get the tape back on in the exact right way, and there was no chance in hell he was getting in his car seat before that happened.
When we finally got on the road, the song “City of New Orleans” by Steve Goodman came on, which Gabriel loves (that is why it’s on a playlist on my phone, guys, not because I’m rocking out to it solo, come on). He used to openly admit that he loves it, but is going through a stage where he tries to hide any strong emotions that pop up. If he sees an individual he adores, for example, his response is to look at the floor and get super, super far away from them.
Anyway, the song came on and, at a stoplight, I looked in the rear-view mirror and smiled at him, waiting for him to smile back, which he did ever so briefly before turning his head so that I wouldn’t see how happy he was to hear that song. He was so happy to hear that song! And I was so happy just looking at him! Still late. Still post-traumatic stress from the tape all WRONG on the piece of art. But what a good moment.
Deliriously happy in the midst of insanity. This is what I’m talking about. It’s certainly a common among parents, in fact, when you’ve got it good, it seems to define the whole experience.
There have been periods in this parenting adventure when I haven’t felt this way; when I was happy in a philosophical sense, but revelling in plenty of day-to-day complaints. Lately not so much. Working at a job I like is a big part of that. Feeling like a fairly experienced parent is a big part of it, too. Keeping up with my own writing. My husband. It’s all part of a very rewarding combination.
I realize I’m incredibly lucky. But I also recognize that I’m really, really tired. I’m not sure there’s much you can do about that when you’re in this stage of family life. But I have been considering trying to break, ever so slightly, out of my “mom zone.” Return to some of my long lost interests.
I’m compelled to do so almost every day when we get home and realize that my primary and immediate goals are:
1) get out of the restrictive clothes I’m wearing
2) consider television possibilities for later on
Now, these are nice things. Getting into some comfortable lounge pants. Watching addictive television with your husband after you’ve put the kids to bed. And I’ll be the first to admit that after a long day, everybody should be allowed to do whatever they want.
But I wouldn’t mind kicking myself into gear and utilizing at least a little of the spare time I have in a more productive way. Sometimes I get overworked about this, and think, “I should start a non-profit!” and sometimes my response is underwhelming, like, “Well, at least keep your jeans on until 8.”
Eventually I get it right. “Maybe I should start exercising again.”
“Maybe I should write that one email I’ve been meaning to write, or make that one phone call.”
“Maybe I should post something on my blog.”
You see? And that’s exactly what I did when I found some time today. Instead of watching last night’s “Scandal,” on demand. It felt great to accomplish one small task. And, bonus, now I know exactly what I am going to watch tonight.
This post was originally posted at caramcduna.com on 11/20/15.
Cara McDonough writes for several websites, newspapers and magazines about parenting, women’s issues and other subjects, and blogs about life in general at caramcduna.com. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut with her husband, three children and two dogs. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.