Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sometimes Semantics are Important

They started telling me it while I was pregnant.
They being: people I know, people I passed by in the grocery store, people at doctors appointments, and all these voices of the internet.

They all said, "It goes by so fast."

This sentence is offered as advice.
"Enjoy it, it goes by so fast."

I totally see where they are coming from.

I mean, I myself, recently caught my heart wanting to chase after a random college student I saw crossing the road near campus {as I drove my two-carseat-sedan to the library} so I could tell this stranger the same sort of thing. "Enjoy it. It doesn't get easier. You're life is already in play. It doesn't start later once you graduate and have a family. Its already your life right now."

The thing is, I don't know where she is coming from. I don't actually know if she isn't fully enjoying herself right now. She might not be waiting for her life to start. She might well be living it.

And that's the problem when someone says to me, "Enjoy it, it goes by so fast."

It always feels to me like an assumption that I am not enjoying, and need to do so promptly.

I have stressed, and stressed over this sentence.

I know some of that was due to the fact that I started motherhood in a happy, but sad, state. Having had my c-section disappointments, having to struggle to nurse, and then fearing for my baby's health over the course of a year -- because a lot of her levels seemed out of place and we had to continually go get her blood drawn {poke her. watch her cry. wait. get told a lot of intense stuff. repeat - for a year.}

Entering motherhood is intense in general. I would have felt pretty overwhelmed by the whole shock of being the caretaker of a person, who've life depends on me. But add in all the rest and I really felt the strain.

Hearing "Enjoy it, it goes by so fast." was really hard for me.

I loved Jasmine with a crazy love I never knew possible from the moment they lifted her out of me. It was like a magic wand was waved over me and I was forever changed.

So I was enjoying her to the ends of the universe. (I couldn't peel my eyes away from her. I gazed all day long.)

But I was also aching to the depths of me.

It was simultaneous.

So with that mix of emotions raging inside [one day {every other moment} one was on top, the next the other was king] hearing "Enjoy it, it goes by so fast" literally made me feel like I could crack.

It hit both parts of my battle, each in the wrong way.

"It goes by so fast" made me fear that I wasn't staring hard enough at her gorgeous little eye lashes. It made me fear I wasn't smelling her sweet skin enough, or pulling the sent in down deep enough. It made me fear I wasn't doing the most with our time together. It made me afraid to go vacuum because I would be missing what's most important. (Seriously.)  It made me feel like no matter what I was doing, I couldn't possibly be enjoying it to the fullest.
I would see the happy, but clear ache in the mother's eyes who had told me this, and I would be haunted by how I would never get it right, because it seemed certain that no one else had either.
And so while I was enjoying it I was worried that I wasn't.

And then words "enjoy it" would rip at all my scabs: The incision I had hoped to avoid. The way I had to fight so hard to breastfeed. All the trips to the hospital lab to watch someone hurt my baby, and how I tried to thank them and mean it, because I knew they didn't like doing it. The sweating in the office as I waited to hear what that blood work would say.
I did not enjoy these things. But they came with motherhood. So maybe I should have been, I'd wonder.

And that was just the big, out of the ordinary, stuff. Then there was the day to day things that were a struggle to enjoy: The horrible shock that was my postpartum body. The extreme effort I was putting into getting healthy now. The total lack of sleep. The messy house I could no longer keep up with. The way just going to the grocery store could feel like it drained me of a months worth of pre-momma energy. etc, etc.

I would struggle so much harder when I was weary because, that line would come back to haunt me, at the times when I could least enjoy anything in life. And I would fear that because I wasn't enjoying in that moment I was missing everything.

The line is still hard for me now.
Jasmine is almost three.
And I full well know its flown by. I feel like its been 1 year, at the most, since she was born.
And you've got to be kidding me that Ruby is almost one!
That birth feels like 3 months ago.

I can get in all those same mind holes --- where I don't feel like I am enjoying anything enough. And therefore failing. Failing terribly!

Recently, in my more-than-I'm-normally-accustomed-to sleep deprived state (teething meets colds, repeat), I've been getting angry when I hear or read that line.

I know there will be things I will miss about this phase of my life. I know I will look back on it and smile and ache a bit.

But I know there will be things I won't miss.

I'm in the middle of hard things.
Things that might not change a lot. But they will change based on age.
Like Jasmine's food allergies.
Its hard right now to not be able to get a real answer from her when I feed her a new food. Its hard not knowing what's she's really feeling when she eats.
I look forward to when she can express that with accuracy. I anticipate that bringing me some mothering relief, when compared to the way I have to stare at her after she eats and try and guess if she's acting any different because if I ask her she just makes things up.

When I hear, "Enjoy it, it goes by so fast." Its like a tidal wave of pain. Because I know its going by fast. And part of me is glad. And part of me is sad. And since I love to critique myself, I'm always telling myself I'm not enjoying it enough, "suck it up and have fun already!" Which only makes me want to go to sleep and ignore the strain of all this. (And I really could use more sleep! All mommas can!)

So that's where I was yesterday. In hole of "Holy crap I am so exhausted." at the corner of "I'm wasting it." adjacent to "you just missed it all."

I went to bed in that hole, then Jasmine coughed until she ended up in ours bed (again). So of course she talked, and rolled, and touched, keeping me awake until about five minutes before Ruby woke up and then I was back on call with her.

So this morning. I opened this blog post I had seen on Pinterest the last few days which had been ignoring.
It was on co-sleeping. I don't like to read articles on baby sleep stuff anymore, because I don't care anymore. Everyone can do what they like and if its getting them sleep I say more power to you do it and don't let anyone stop you! I just don't want to waste anymore time reading about all the differences out there, I don't see a point -- the writings are usually so emotionally charged. (I have enough emotions, thank you every much.)
BUT this morning, since I technically co-slept with my two year old last night, I opened it up --- hoping it would make me feel like "see its ok."

But what I accidentally came across in there was this life changing semantic. The women speaking in the post said this: "So, it’s a trade off and we know it won’t last forever. Having these small kids in our lives is fleeting, so I think it’s worth it..." 

She of course was speaking about co-sleeping. But what happened when I read it was a reordering of the words "Enjoy it, it goes by so fast."
I saw, "we know it won't last forever."
And a peace flooded over me.

For me (and I don't know how anyone else would feel about this exact phrasing) this way of stating the idea calms me down and gives me hope and joy.

I think one thing I really like is that a mom in the moment got to say it. It wasn't coming from a far off place looking back. The sentence leaves room for me to say it now. "I know it won't last forever."

"I know it won't last forever." is something I can say to myself when I'm not getting sleep this month.
"I know it won't last forever." is something I can say when my two year old runs down the hallway doing her whiney-pouty-cry for the 17th time in a row because I told her she can't watch TV before breakfast.
"I know it won't last forever." is something I can say to myself when I worry about what she ate for breakfast.
"I know it won't last forever." is something I can say to myself when Ruby keeps waking up and crying every half hour because she's getting 4 teeth at once.

And when that phrase runs through my mind I get the relief of knowing it's just a phase. But with that relief I can step back and smile at the fun parts of my day -- and hug them to my heart and remember to give them their full value. And I can laugh at that whiney-pouty-cry that was about to send me off the deep end.

I've tried all day today to compare the two sentences, in question, in the hard moments that come. And inevitably, every time I run them both past a situation, I can find hope and joy in "It won't last forever" but I can drowned "Enjoy it, it goes by so fast."
As I analyze the actual words, I see how they are the same. But to my heart they are worlds apart.

So from now on I'm going to be saying to myself "I know it won't last forever."
And when well meaning people try to offer me, "Enjoy it, it goes by so fast." I will repeat in my own head "I know it won't last forever."


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