But someday I may tell
The tale of metal tangle
When into your world I fell
Without you now I wander soaking
‘Cause in your grasp the fears don’t last
(And some of them have stayed)”
And yes, I didn’t plan for the pregnancy, the sex of the baby, and the postpartum mental health stuff, but oh, the things I did plan for regarding the babies! I’m damn good at that. I had diapers set up for both babies, with overnight sizes and room for growth, and I had tiny clothes washed and folded. I ordered an entire summer wardrobe for Rider with easy and carefree and shark-filled items of clothing that other people could grab at a moment’s notice. We had a name for a baby girl, a name for a baby boy, and a whole lot of hopes and dreams of how we would be with each other and with this new little life. The new little life. I remember when he was a blueberry-sized someone and I was saying, “oh nooooo” over a pregnancy test. It was always about the life. Could we plan for this life, while also taking care of one another and the three kids we already had? Was it going to be fair, and also handleable? Gosh, those conversations and those plans.
Or should I say, the poorest of mental health, because any postpartum anxiety or breastfeeding pain I’d had in the past was a walk in the park compared to the absolute degradation of my poor brain these last several weeks. You see, I’ve always been able to listen to people talk about being depressed or hopeless, or how they hate their jobs; how they’re getting old and their back hurts. Their kids are growing fast and the good times don’t last. I can listen to all of that and even take it in, but it doesn’t stick. See, I have my own way of thinking and being and believing. And to be honest, I believe that age is way more than a number, that the last 12 years of parenting have felt much longer than 12 years (so it does not go by in a blink), and I’ve even chosen a career that is very not 9 to 5. I work at home with the kids, we all find laughter and joy (and dysfunction and the piling up clutter) and when someone pulls a realist card on me, I like to pull out the elusive Joker and say, “Hey, watch what I can do; what we can do.” I don’t claim to be able to do it all.
I’ve believed in a lot of things over the last few decades, but ultimately, I’ve believed in myself. You can actually feel the magic in the air when you’re open and honest, and thus, also open and honest to accept and embrace what’s around you. It will be at its most painful, and also its most joyous, with a heck of a lot in between. This week I asked my dear friend from high school what it is that’s changed. Is the world much scarier than when we were younger? Or was it just as scary then, but we were young and disillusioned? She said it’s both. The feelings of invincibility go away, as they probably should, but the magic doesn’t. I met Cassidy, 18 years ago today, and gosh, to go back for at least five minutes. There was a lot of pain ahead. There always is and always will be. Plus a lot of joy and a heck of a lot of in-betweens. That first week we met, first in NYC, although the way to Massachusetts and then to Maine, and eventually meeting up in San Francisco, he played me a song on the guitar. “Sample in a Jar.” It was a simple thing and hasn’t really happened since, and maybe won’t happen again, but that was then. That was the song.
I’ve felt more normal lately; more strong. It comes in little rocking waves. I straighten my back more. Cassidy makes dinner and I do the dishes. Or he works late and I provide dinner for five, if you count nursing the little one, which I totally do. Maybe I do dream a little more than I’ve been dreaming, and feel less somber. Hope and light reach into the cracks. I like having kids home and the purpose and joy that comes with that. I focus more on the joy and laughter together, because the present is what’s right here and it’s been easier to enjoy moments without thinking about the fact that these times will end. Well, yes, they will, then giving way to new times ahead. Mornings still start at a hectic pace, with four kids, three dogs, and a little cat too, but it’s slower lately, giving more time to pleasures and joy. Snuggles in bed and the promise of a wide open road on a wide open day. Winter will come again, but sometimes summer buoys us enough with strong sunshine and heat, and that sets forth ripples and waves, into the rest of the year.
The binding belt enclosing me, a Sample in a Jar
You tricked me like the others
And now I don’t belong
The simple smiles and good times seem all wrong”