Unconditionally

With every move there comes a time when I say to myself, that’s it, Sherry, you do not need to buy anything else for the kitchen. The second set of salt and pepper shakers has to be the last of it. During the funny-money phase of moving, I think that I simply must start my new life off with nice bedsheets. While it’s time to buckle down and save for William’s college tuition, they are nice bedsheets. I asked Aaron last night at 9:00 p.m. what the bedsheets felt like. He knew. We didn’t have to say it out loud. The bedsheets felt like sleeping children. Both William and Clara were asleep by 8:00 p.m. and we spent a lovely hour reading and playing guitar in absolute quiet. Prior to their early bedtime, we spent a lot of time cuddling as a family. When it’s good, it’s really good.

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But when it’s hectic, it’s really hectic. Today I could not get William down for an afternoon nap. Clara was snuggly in her new bed at around 2:30 p.m. and I just watched the clock tick by while William slept for a half hour, woke up to nurse, cried from gas-inducing breast milk, stopped crying, slept for a half hour, woke up to nurse, cried etc. Aaron called and tried to ask me how my day was going. It wasn’t going. It had, in fact, stopped moving in any sort of linear fashion and was instead spiraling. With just a half hour work I was desperate to get done, I was tense. I may spend this entire semester typing comments on student papers one handed. I thought William might have given up on afternoon naps already until he had the explosion of his life in his diaper, which was a little like hitting the snooze button. I could barely get his diaper off before he was ready to crash.

We went for a walk yesterday and a fit woman in her thirties with two kids in a jogging stroller stopped to walk with us for awhile. Her name is Summer and she’s invited me and the kids to stop by her beautiful home on the golf course sometime. It’s amazing how much we moms can crave friendship. I just want to sit around and commiserate. Now that the house is clean and relatively organized, I’m ready to find some mommy groups, go to the library, and play on the playground. Time to have some fun.

For most of Clara’s infancy, I thrashed against the idea that I had become an oozing, stinky breastmilk factory with frizzy hair and unshaven legs. Still, when a friend I worked with at TCC brings us dinner and uses the word “dystopic” I worry that too many choo-choo train puzzles are dulling my intellect. I worry that I’ll never have anything to talk about except sleep cycles and developmental milestones. Nobody wants to lose themselves to someone else, even their own child. But maybe it’s the picture of Clara skittering across the floor in a pretty red dress to grab a hold of Dad’s legs when he comes home from work. Maybe it’s the smell of William’s head, but I am happy to be here. I am happy to be able to climb into bed with Clara at nap time and tell stories. I am happy to sit and hold a nursing William and listen to cars drive by. I am happy that I don’t have to feel guilty about putting a baby in day care just because I miss feeling like a professional. The time to return to full-time work will come around soon enough and I know that no identity will be as satisfying as the one I have here with my family, where I am called for in the middle of the night, where I make people feel better by hugging them, where I am unconditionally loved.

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