A little over three years ago, I brought Miller to Bloomington five days a week for six straight weeks for ISR swim lessons. Driving an hour one way for a less than 10 minute lesson with an 8 month old was awful for me. Why in the hell did I agree to that nonsense? (Rhetorical question.)
It is important, at this point, to add that this stretch of Miller’s life – from 6-12 months – was the absolute hardest for me. I wasn’t in a good place. And then we added blasted swim lessons that effed up naps and required a ton of packing and driving and clothes changes with a still wet haired baby from the pool out into the winter cold and and and…
Talk about a genius decision.
Anyway, following his lessons, I would often go to Macy’s or Von Maur for their women’s lounges. I strolled Miller in with my bag of stuff – how is it that babies require so much stuff? – and was able to feed him, both food food and a bottle, all from the comforts of a couch.
I had him out of his car seat, giving him a chance to move around a bit more before strapping him back in for the hour ride home. I remember feeling so guilty about all the time he spent stuck in his car seat…
Fast forward to this morning. While I drop my mother-in-law off at the Bloomington airport, Miller’s hanging at home with my mom. I meet my longest running friend for lunch (make hay while the sun shines, so they say), then stop by Von Maur on a whim (I love whims).
When I walk into the women’s lounge, I’m immediately transported back three years ago to those evening stops on this very couch.
What I didn’t know then, because I was too busy surviving, is that I was forming fond memories. Amidst doing a whole bunch of stuff I Didn’t Want To Do, I did something to make my life a little easier by stopping someplace cozy. It gave me a chance to breathe while I cared for my baby.
And now? Today? I sit in this lounge and see it clearly. Those moments of making and taking time to care for us both are where fond memories take root. Those moments are what it’s all about.
It’s not all about seeing your child smile and laugh if you’re too damn preoccupied to appreciate the smile and laugh.
So to any mom out there who feels like you’re drowning in a whole bunch of stuff that wasn’t your idea and you don’t like it but you’re doing it anyway on top of the general responsibility that comes with caring for a child!
Take time to sit. For yourself in the moment and for your future self.
Someday, in the not too distant future, you’ll look back on the shit storm and smile, because you’ll remembers those moments. The moments of let-me-catch-my-breath. Of temporary calm and quiet. Because that is when you can really appreciate your baby’s smile. And the way he anticipates that next bite. And even the whoopsie daisies, like when a glob of food spills on an upholstered chair.
Do I remember the angst of that stage quite clearly? Obviously, yes. The time spent making those lessons happen weighs heavy on my heart still. But, those twenty or so minutes spent sitting in the women’s lounge? My gosh they are everything. They make my heart soar higher than the angst could ever weigh it down.
That. Is where it’s at. That’s what it’s all about.
If you’re in the thick of it, take the time to offer yourself relief. Even if it’s by doing something small, like sitting for a little bit to comfortably feed your baby.