hidden milestones

I feel incredibly emotional today. I am choking back tears and feel like what little energy I have is slowly seeping out of me, like a small tear in an inflatable raft, its not noticeable until you notice it, and then it’s just a disaster — plain and simple.

Today is a normal day. My oldest daughter is at day camp. They are going on a field trip to a local museum/park for the day. She will be going to a public place under the supervision of people who are not me, my husband, or her grandparents. This is the first time this is happening and I didn’t realize it was a big deal until an hour after I dropped her off. I started thinking of how mature she seemed when she jumped out of the car, confidently shut her own door, and walked across the street with the counselor. I know she needs to be responsible for her own belongings. This camp requires her to be more independent than she’s used to, and she’s doing great.

She is tackling new challenges. Every single day. She is doing things that are outside of her comfort zone. She is trying to forge new relationships out of nowhere. All of this newness. All of this independence. All of these tests. All of these things that I helped her with that she can now do on her own, that she could do on her own. She doesn’t need me like she used to.

The other day, she was running around the house in a hyper-energetic state. She was jumping over wash baskets and sprinting down the hallway. She fell, hard. She started to sob, and as the tears streamed down her face I went to scoop her up in my arms, like I always do when she is crying or scared. I protectively life her up and hold her, hoping to absorb all pain and fear into my body and provide her with security and healing. Something was different this time. I couldn’t scoop her up and hold her like I used to. She was too big. Her legs were too long, her body too heavy to carry with ease.

Things were different. Our world shifted, changed. My heart broke a little in that moment. She was growing, and it hurt. How did I not take notice that she was growing so fast? How could this hit me by surprise? My little girl is not a little girl anymore. She is simply a girl — a girl with is growing, learning, and experiencing.

One thing that I did not expect from seeing her grow is how inspiring she would be. Here she is tacking all of these challenges and overcoming obstacles. How often do I do things that are outside of my comfort zone. How often am I trying new things? Do I ask for help when I need it? I need to start to be more like my five-year-old. Time to try.

some excuses. some valid. 

Unfortunately, I have come to realize that finding time for myself is even harder than I thought – even after committing to making myself a priority. I can easily add myself to the list every day, but whether I put a checkmark next to my name is less predictable. I have lots of excuses. It is winter. The kids constantly have colds, the flu, or an oh so fun stomach virus. Days are spent drying tears, wiping noses, playing, singing, problem-solving, organizing, snuggling, disciplining, teaching, and driving. 

The amount of needs and wants that have to be met on a daily basis are staggering. An infinite checklist remains in the forefront of my mind at all times. I am constantly highlighting and rearranging the tasks, pushing the major needs to the top and letting the less urgent matters fall to the bottom. Which reminds me, how often do you clean YOUR windows because I’m pretty sure I may have set a record. At the end of the day, I breathe a sigh of relief after my oldest is in bed. I tell her I love her and whisper, “sweet dreams, princess” as I slip out of the room. I managed my list for the day. My girls are happy, my husband seems like he is doing okay and I made it through. 

How do I motivate myself to do something beneficial at the end of the day when I have no energy and a sick, exhausted toddler has finally fallen asleep on me? 

How do I go to bed early when i know I need it but I haven’t seen my husband all day and am longing to have an adult conversation, or at least watch an adult TV show? 

How do I say no to a second glass of wine or 5th cup coffee when my body needs hydration and replace it with a bottle or water or calming camomile tea?

How do I throw my kids’ crusts in the trash instead of nibbling on the crusts and other unwanted empty calories?

The funny thing about all these things is that they are easily doable, even when I can’t get outside to exercise due to the whether or lack of daylight. They are not affected by a busy schedule and being unable to fit something in. These are simple things.

I need to strengthen my inner voice. I need to listen to myself and let my inner voice speak loudly. Often I drown her out. She comes through as week and therefore easily ignored or forgotten. Sometimes she doesn’t even speak. Sometimes she’s lost or has been lost for so long that she’s forgotten how to be heard. 

It is time to hear her. I may not make huge strides, but I will do what I can. I think that developing a stronger inner voice will help. 

Not every moment is beautiful. There are many times throughout the day that my patience is tested, and I fail. I am short-tempered, emotional, and tired. Sometimes I am an awful storyteller and my tales are unimaginative, disconnected and boring. However, I look at my daughter when I am telling her a story. How she is looking at me intently, hanging on every word. Moments like this help me to realize how much I matter — even on those moments when I am not doing my best. The way that I act is shaping her and teaching her about the world. I need to give my inner voice the same respect and attention that my sweet and attentive daughter gives me.  When my stories start to go downhill, I take a moment, breathe, improvise, and try to improve. I strive to give the characters more flair, I beef up the plot, ensure that she can make connections to the story, and include some theatrics. Basically, I suck it up and do better. 

Time to suck it up. I may not make huge strides this week, but I will try to do better.