By Community Contributor, Kari McBride
I have a tiny skull pushed into my neck on one side of my body, the other side there is an arm loosely tangled with mine. I'm staring at the ceiling where red stars project onto the fan blades, and the sound of white noise fills my room. I know I'm not going to get any sleep. I'm here in the middle of this bed where both boys can be pressed into me. We're on day two of my husband being out of town for work. I rub my eye and wince, a stye must be coming in.
Every few hours, I wonder what time it is, preparing myself for the early morning hours when I must get both of them fed and ready for the day. Pack the lunch, change a diaper, adjust a sock so the seams are inside out and the shoe fits just right. Coffee will have to wait.
As I'm sitting at the kitchen table, I look up at the wall. There are massive holes from where the old coat rack was anchored. Over a few feet are the kitchen curtains, covered in what just be hummus or guacamole from maybe six months ago. I think, I should take care of those things. I add it to the mental list I have running of my "shoulds."
I'm thinking of how hard I worked yesterday to get the house in shape in the one hour the baby napped by cleaning the kitty litter, taking out the trash, vacuuming, and doing the dishes. And when he was up, taking him to the park and going for a walk. Then I think about all there is to do today, and I feel myself wanting to deflate.
Motherhood can be lonely, especially in the early years where I am now. I know, because I've done this before. My kids are 7 years apart. It's really like starting all over again, but this time I had a taste of what the autonomy of an older child feels like. Sometimes it keeps me stuck, wishing away these precious days for ones with more structure.
In this spiral of wishing, it's easy to forget all it took to get here. The eight and a half years of infertility before my first born, and the secondary infertility between boys. The two miscarriages that made my son a rainbow baby. Every pregnancy test that came up negative.
Then I remember something I read yesterday. It said that the number one regret that people have for their lives on their death beds is that they wish they would have let themselves be happier. I wonder, how am I stunting my own happiness? Seeing blessings as chores. I let little things overwhelm the bigger picture daily. Because of some story I told myself that this all should be easier.
In the middle of my musings, I look up to see my boys laughing at each other. Some moment I missed by being so engrossed in my own thoughts. Just then, the baby takes a bowl of dry cereal and dumps it onto the floor with gusto. The small pieces scatter and I know they will need to be picked up. Instead of rushing into action, I sit looking at the mischievous smile he wears so proudly now. I think, I can embrace happiness now even in the middle of chaos, and I smile too.
Kari McBride is the mother of two boys and lives with her husband in Houston, TX.