There is a special kind of love that we save just for our friends. Not the kind of love that we share with our partner, but a kind of sweet, head over heels “giddy to have you in my life” sort of love. A love that is warm and reassuring, like a favourite scarf that is as comforting as it is beautiful. A love that is as familiar and gentle as the sun’s sweet sigh as it dips below the horizon. A love that is a perfectly balanced blend of laughter and tears, sarcasm and thoughtfulness. It is the kind of love that we share only with our dearest friends, the ones with whom we share our deepest fears and greatest regrets. The ones we turn to, breathless with excitement, to share our biggest accomplishments, and most astonishing secrets. It is the kind of love that is born out of trust and compassion, and it binds us so completely that we can lean into it, some days weak with need, without fear of causing it to break. Finding a friend to build that kind of love with is as simple as it is rare, and as compelling as it is raw.
For the first time in my life I am facing what feels like an overwhelmingly enormous change. And that is unusual for me, because I have spent my entire life adapting to and seeking out change. I have moved enough times to be able to call 27 different houses/apartments my home. I have gone to 4 different elementary schools, 2 high schools, 1 college, 2 universities, and I have had at least 13 different jobs. I have had an endless stream of friends come and go from my life; so many, in fact, that I no longer expect anyone to stay.
Yet here I am in the longest, most stable and healthy relationship of my life, living in the same house for the longest stretch of time ever, raising three of the most incredible children that I never dreamed I would even have. My entire world has been dedicated to staying home to raise my family; it has become all I know, and it is all about to change.
This year all three of the kids will be at school, and my house will be empty. This year I will need to find my way back into the workforce, and into an adult world that I no longer feel a part of. I know that in a month’s time I will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about, but for right now, for this very moment, I feel unexpectedly sad, strangely overwhelmed and very much alone. For someone who has never questioned the fact that change is inevitable, I am finding myself shedding an awful lot of tears about something that I know deep down will be completely fine.
This morning as I sat at the kitchen table, exhausted and searching for freshly brewed strength in the bottom of my coffee cup, I could hear my two oldest children upstairs laughing and running from room to room. Suddenly, their laughter was cut short and replaced by angry yells and stomps. I paused, mid sip, waiting for the house to explode.
“MUUUUUM!” my 5 year old son bellowed. “Isaac PEED on me!!”
I sighed and gave up all hope of enjoying the rest of my coffee while it was still hot. As I steeled myself to take on what was likely turning into an all-out brawl, my daughter suddenly spilled her milk all over the kitchen floor. A sob bubbled up from inside her and burst forth with such devastating sorrow that my own heart began to ache. My calm, tranquil morning had been shattered by pee, tears and spilled milk. Such is life now with young children. Quiet moments that I claim as my own are often snatched away like wisps of a dream as we are pulled from sleep.
I signed up for this, I remind myself. My children, my husband; this family that I helped create. Yet, some days I find myself admitting that this life that gives me such immeasurable happiness, is also the very thing that sometimes drags me under. If you were to see my pictures and posts on social media, I’m sure my life would appear perfect, but I feel so far from perfect it’s almost laughable. It’s not that I am trying to fool anyone, I just prefer to highlight and celebrate my family’s successes rather than focus too much on the uncomfortable heaviness I sometimes feel. Parenting is a confusing blend of unexpected difficulty, and astonishingly sweet joy. I often wonder if I have what it takes to balance it all, and to be the mother that my children need me to be.
I remind myself though in times like this that I am stronger than I believe, and I ask myself to not second guess that strength, because I have managed to create a family so heartbreakingly beautiful it sometimes hurts. I have built a safe and loving world in which our family shines and thrives. There have been bumps and bruises, mistakes and regrets, but they are ours, and we are stronger for it.
And so, this morning, as my children yelled, fought and cried, I slowly pushed back my chair from the table, took one last fortifying sip of coffee, then sloshed my way through pee, tears and spilled milk to begin the process of healing the hurts of the ones I love. I have come to realize now that I draw strength from life’s challenges, and take comfort in the life I now live because of them.
Every now and then I will have what I guess falls under the umbrella excuse of having a mommy moment. Or maybe it has nothing to do with being a mom. Maybe it has more to do with the fact that some days I simply feel tired, worn out and a little bit lost about who I am. Sometimes I have the same big emotions that my kids do, but I do my best to control them and try to teach my kids to do the same.
And sometimes I don’t. Like that time when I accidentally made a different sandwich than the one my son had asked for, and then I cried about it. It wasn’t rational; I mean it was a sandwich, right? I would have expected my son to be the one to cry. But do you know what he did when I told him my mistake? He put his hands over the tears on my cheeks and said, “It’s okay mom that you made the wrong sandwich. I still love you, and I’ll still eat it.” Then he smiled, and my heart melted into a big, messy puddle of tears and wonder. Some days don’t make any sense at all, and some days make sense in ways that you never would have expected.