It's 8pm, the kids have just been put to bed. I sit on the couch and take a breath.
I've been thinking of this moment since 9am this morning. Having a moment alone. The glass of red sits on the table and I'm so tired, one of my eyes has just given up for the day and shut itself, the other is flaking.
I contemplate whether I should go to bed now or stay up for another few hours to do some 'adult' stuff. But the pull of sleep is so strong. I take one sip of red and reflect on the day. I've had more ups and downs than a Disney rollercoaster. Welcome to parenting.
Today I've been happy, angry, deflated, elated, surprised, chuffed. I've cried, I've laughed, I've yelled, I've loved, I've played chase, hide and seek, made the Taj Mahal of a cubby house and created the Van Gogh version of play doh. And yet, despite this undivided MENSA-equivalent play, I still cannot sneak off for two minutes alone when mother nature calls (on this note when you have an audience, at least get them to do something useful like pass you the toilet paper!).
I find some days wishing I was back at work but then when I'm working, wishing I was at home with them. What is this strange world of parenting that can leave us so devoid of energy and physically and mentally exhausted, yet so unbelievably fulfilled at the same time? Truth in part, there is nothing comparable. Parenting is a world unto its own, with momentous highs and mighty lows. All of which, I'm realising are beautiful.
I think back at my 25-year-old self, career driven and carefree with freedom oozing from my pores.
My coffees were hot. Getting out of bed was a conscious choice. I was happy, working towards a career in teaching, sociable and energised. When I walked out the door at 25, I literally just 'walked out the door'. Nowadays walking out the door is a 30 minute, poo explosive, toddler tantrum, dog escaping, forgot to put my pants on and locking your keys inside the house kind of affair.
Fast forward to now and I'm 33, not working, two young kids, physically and mentally drained…. but more fulfilled than ever before.
Don't get me wrong, I have some days when I close the door on my kids, take a few deep breathes, wipe the tears from my eyes and in an act just short of an exorcism, physically will myself to get back out there and deal with the poopy pants and meltdowns because my daughters zip doesn't extend to her hoody…oh and the dog just ate a dirty nappy.
Yep. These days aren't glorious. But they're beautiful.
Beautiful because it's these lows that are making me a better person. Less self-absorbed, less materialistic. Less caught up in the adult world.
Beautiful because between the lows, my daughter will hug me and tell me she loves me.
Beautiful because between the lows, my son will learn how to say thank you for the first time or will give me a kiss for the first time. My daughter will tell me I'm her best friend and my heart will explode with love. And ok, she will also tell the dog he's her best friend and her pink sock too but that's ok, I'll still take it.
Parenting is beautiful because the highs are magnificent but the lows are what really make me a better person.
They are beautiful in the way they make me stop and see the world through the eyes of a toddler. The way a leaf falls from a tree in autumn or the way the clouds roll over in the sky. All of which are new and exciting in their eyes.
Beautiful in the way the lows make me learn patience like never before. Grass grows quicker than my daughter gets ready for kinder but each day I am getting better at watching, waiting and letting her do things for herself.
The night my daughter was born, I spent the next 8 hours just staring at her, mostly in awe of her but also due to the fact I couldn't believe my body just did what it did if you know what I mean! I knew in that moment that my world would never be the same.
So would I trade it all in for my 25-year-old self? The answer is no, even in the lowest of days.
Yes, I was happy and carefree, but was I fulfilled? No. There is no other thing in this world that fulfils me more than the love of my family.
Sometimes red wine come close…. but it doesn't beat a hug from my daughter or a high five from my son.
Parenting is hard but fulfilling in ways we never expected. So be kind on yourself, you're doing a great job.