Ben and his favorite new ball he lifted from the park, Canon Rebel Xti
As I look at this photo everything I was about to tell you flies out the window. All the stuff about how exhausted we’ve been, how Ben has been crying off and on all night for months, how we need to rock him to sleep each evening for fear that if he starts crying he will throw up. I was about to tell you that Matt and I are so overwhelmed by our work that this sleep thing feels like pure torture.
I was going to tell you how out of it I’ve been, how I left my Nia dance class yesterday barefoot and didn’t realize until I got to the car blocks away that I wasn’t wearing shoes. I forget to eat dinner, I forget appointments, I have no short term memory. We feel like brand new parents (in a perpetual haze) all over again.
And then I look at this face! and all of that complaining about no sleep seems so small and doable and so what if you are woken up every few hours? Just the fact that that face exists is enough. How can I do anything but celebrate, when upon returning home from Oregon, this little person developed a sense of humor and now walks into the living room with a colander on his head, grinning to see if we’ll laugh. Waka waka waka.
People ask me all the time how I do it, how I balance a creative life with motherhood. And really, I haven’t mastered it. By the time Ben falls asleep I am ready to crawl into bed myself… to read a few pages from my vampire bookand then pass out.
My point in all this is that there is a tendency for us to think that other people have it figured out, that their marriages are better than ours, that they are happier, that they’re having more sex, that they don’t get depressed… when the big secret is that we’re all struggling. We are all suffering from one thing or another (parents or not) We are all questioning if we’re okay, if we’re the only ones. We are all wondering what is wrong with us that we don’t have what they have?
I realized that the last few weeks have been filled with so much more laughter than I have experienced in a long time. Something big was dislodged from my heart while I was in Oregon (through an amazing conversation with Brene Brown) I literally felt my chest soften and I could finally breathe again. Healing can often sneak up on you.
It’s like when the dam breaks on tears and you can suddenly cry again. I had a little dam break on laughter. My friend Kim and I were making a quiet getaway from a wedding we shot last weekend. It was in a beautiful, peaceful place by the ocean and it was perfectly quiet outside save for the ocean waves. Suddenly, the alarm on the car we borrowed started honking LOUDLY. We couldn’t figure out how to turn it off and ended up throwing all of our camera equipment in the car as fast as we could, slamming the doors and driving away, honking the entire way home. We laughed so hard I could barely breathe… and something in me came alive again. Healing can often sneak up on you.
In the last few days I’ve noticed a lot of laughter in the studio I share with the fabulous Kelly Rae. My first thought was, “Oh! I didn’t realize she was so funny!” but I think it’s me… there is new space in me for laughter now.
I am still tired. It’s still hard to chase a toddler by day and soothe one by night. It’s hard to balance parenthood with a creative life. But my heart feels softer and more open these days. I love that Ben, who I am so connected to, whose pain is my pain, whose joy is my joy, started laughing right around the time I did again. We are learning together…