For a long time now, it's felt like my life is one big game of catch-up. With little kids, after getting everyone fed, clothed, napped, pottied, diapered and entertained, at the end of the day, I had no brain space or energy left for anything else. I lost track of friends, especially ones that didn't have children, and therefore did not fit into our play date-oriented schedule. I abandoned interests I previously pursued avidly. I gave away most of my african violets - with real babies to take care of, the plants became just another task needing doing. My mountain bike collected dust as it hung in the garage, just like the pile of books on my nightstand. And my pre-paid, fifteen class yoga pass hung on my key chain unused for months. I would see these things in passing - the bike, the books, the yoga pass - and frown. I'd wonder if I ever would get back to doing the things I loved. Would I, in fact, ever get back to writing, or would this blog sit on the internet, gathering metaphorical cyber-dust? I was afraid I'd been away from these things for too long and that, by the time I had the time to get back to them, I'd have somehow lost the inclination - that I would no longer know how to enjoy my previously loved hobbies after spending so much time and energy with the little people.
Here's the thing: I love my children dearly. I'd wanted to be a mother for years before I had them. I have a degree in child development, and I find children and the way their minds work fascinating. I sometimes sit in rapt attention, watching Jack talk to himself as he builds a wall with blocks or observing Gage as he repeatedly dumps sidewalk chalk from one container to another. The way they solve problems, explore their surroundings and begin to make sense of their worlds is amazing to me. BUT, the other thing is this: children are not the only thing that fascinates me, and even my own brilliant, creative, lovable children can get tiresome every now and then. Sometimes I need a break from cars and blocks and chicken nuggets and constant noise. I missed my other interests. I wanted to explore the trails in our neighborhood on my bike. I longed to buy the plants I saw thriving in the garden center to see what I could do with them. I needed (yes, needed) to have friends I interacted with on an adult level. I had writing ideas overflowing the cup of my mind, but those ideas were often lost, as I had no time to write them down before I forgot them.
Now, with Jack being four and Gage fourteen months, I am getting to a point where I can at least begin thinking about other things, like adult friends, vacations, and interests I had pre-children. My life feels like it is very slowly beginning to swing back into balance. I know my life will still be mostly about my kids for years to come, but as they get older, I seem to have more mental energy to make plans with friends. I can water plants and pull weeds while they play in the sand box. I'm also able to share some of my interests with them, like when Jack and I planted seeds to grow carrots and peppers last weekend. Jason and I actually managed a mountain bike ride a couple of weeks ago while my parents kept the kids, and it turns out you really don't forget how to ride a bike. This all goes back to my belief that one person's happiness and contentedness with life does not exist in a vacuum. Now that I am able to do more of the things that make me who I am, I am happier. I feel more peaceful. I have more energy to do nice things for my family, and we are more harmonious as a family. Because, in short, as I have written before, "If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."