This morning I woke up to a toddler crying at 5am. Not unusual. To my surprise though, she was easily guided back to bed and fell asleep for 3 and a half more hours. This was surprising, since it was her first night in a toddler bed, and I was super happy that she agreed to go back to bed so easily, given that she could have trashed her room instead. She discovered yesterday that she could quite easily launch herself out of her crib, and so something had to be done. I found an Allan (Allen?) wrench and figured out how to convert the crib to a toddler bed BY MYSELF, since rat man* is busy working. Anywho….. I was super stoked that she went back to bed and laid down to go back to sleep myself. Then, about an hour later, I realized that my good friend Anxiety had crawled in bed with me and there would be no sleeping in.
Anxiety is a familiar guest in my brain. It used to be a roomate though, so I won’t complain. Our family cat has been missing for about 5 days and so, I was half expecting a visit from my old friend. Also, I’ve been listening to Adele on repeat lately which hasn’t helped. Lost pet + too much Adele + my baby outgrowing the crib = feelings… so. many. feelings. I digress.
I was nodding off back to sleep and enjoying the warmth of my bed when out of nowhere, Cursive… as in, cursive writing. When was the last time I used cursive? Grade 6? Elementary school? I suddenly remembered something I’d read a few months ago (or was it a few years ago? I don’t know. I no longer have any concept of time) that they were no longer teaching cursive writing in school because it was no longer deemed necessary. At the time I found this out, I felt indifferent. They were probably right to can it. Who the hell uses cursive anymore?
But there I was. 5 am and the noise was starting to fill my head. When was the last time I wrote in cursive? Can I still remember how to do all the lower case letters? a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h,…. Yes yes! I remember! They’re all still there! What about capital letters???? A, B, C, D, E,….E…. E…. Wait, how the F*&$ do I make a Capital E in cursive writing???? Why can’t I remember?? What else have I forgotten????
Thank you iPhone, for always being next to me. I frantically searched Google images for a Cursive Alphabet. I found one and breathed a sigh of relief that it was all still there. Someone had documented it. Well, actually MANY people had documented the cursive alphabet. There is really no danger in our culture ever losing it sinice it’s easily found on the internet. And we all know that WE WILL NEVER LOSE THE INTERNET. Ironically, the way you write a capital E in cursive is exactly how I currently print a capital letter E. Weird. I wondered where I’d gotten that from. I figured I’d nipped that little, funny thought and then laid my head back down.
Then my guest started to get comfortable. I had forgotten quite a bit of cursive. This was something that I’d spent hours practicing and perfecting in elementary school. Hours. How did I just forget half of it? What else have I forgotten? Then my guest started to unpack. There is a whole childhood that happened. There were people and experiences… years worth of people and experiences. How much have I forgotten? Does any of it matter that it happened if I can’t remember it anymore? I mean, I get that I’m supposed to be a culmination of all my past experiences… but how can you be a culmination if you can’t remember most of the stuff that you’ve cultivated? Am I sub-existing right now and just going through the motions? HOW AM I BREATHING RIGHT NOW????
This is usually when I would wake rat face up with something like “I’m having feelings right now.”
Him: (groggily) “What? what’s going on? what are you feeling?”
Me: “I don’t know. I just know that I’m feeling something and I think I’m having an existential crisis.”
This is usually when he tells me to go back to sleep or trys to convince me that I just need to have sex. I then usually convince him that I just need to be cuddled. I nuzzle in, smell the boy smell (sounds gross but it’s not) and then drift off. But, he’s working right now. Which left me alone with my brain at 5 am. Which, as you may have guessed, is not a good thing.
Around 6 am I had it figured out that there were billions upon billions of childhoods that are just gone. Unless someone wrote a book documenting their life, it’s gone. Think of someone who was born in like, 1845 and who died in 1910. There was a whole childhood (and even a life!) that is just gone. All the stories and experiences are gone. All the people who were around for the stories and experiences are now gone as well. That person probably had a lullby that their mother sang them, but now one knows anymore what it was. They probably had little crushes on someone at school, and played games in the school yard, but that’s all gone too. There was probably a specific set of chores they had to do before leaving for school and a specific way to do them, but no one knows at all anymore what any of that was. It’s all gone. A few people (usually men) have written snippits about their lives, and so we know about them. We know what their childhoods were like. But there are literally billions of other childhoods that are just gone forever.
This is what I F&%$ing think about at 6am when both my kids are sleeping and I could be sleeping in. This and cursive writting. what. the. F$*&
Then around 7am my 4-year-old climbed in bed with me. She snuggled in and told me she wanted to cuddle. I laid and just listened to her breathing. I studied her little, sleeping face because when she’s asleep, she’s actually still enough for me to really look at her. It sounds so creepy but I promise its not. I’m forever trying to really be present with them, to really love the age they are now. Kids seem to grow up so quickly and I don’t want to spend too much time dwelling on “how tiny they used to be!” or “I can’t believe how much she’s talking now! I remember the tiny voice she used to use when she barely spoke at all!”
If I spend too much time when she’s 4 missing who she was at 2, then all of a sudden she will be 6 and I will be missing who she was at 4 and that will just continue on and on until the end of days. If I spend too much time missing her smaller self, I will miss out on who she is right now.
At 8:30 we all woke up, and the toddler joined us in bed. We had absolutely no where to be today (thank you hard-working husband who brings in enough money to allow me to be at home) and so we just cuddled in bed. The girls have been sick lately and so it was nice just to cuddle in, relax and talk. I let them watch a show on the ipad. It was heaven.
The funny thing about parenthood is that it both adds to, and takes away from, the anxiety. You are forever worried about your children. My husband has to remind me often that my worries about my children, though valid, are a little “over the top” sometimes and need to be scaled back a bit. I think he needs to stop f&%$ing with my routines. We are a good balance for the girls. But the wonderful thing about being a mom is that I just can’t stay in my head like I used to. My kids won’t allow it. I’m over here like ” Hey, I’m kind of having an existential crisis this morning so I wa…..”
4 year old: “I want warm bread!!!!”
me: “um… what?”
her: “MOMMY I want warm bread!!!”
me: “Um, I think you mean toast dear, warm bread is call toa…”
her; “NO ITS CALLED WARM BREAD!!! I WANT WARM BREAD!!!”
Toddler: “POTTY! POTTY! POTTY!”
And that’s the end of it. I can’t stay in my head anymore because I have to deal with poop and warm bread and runny noses and life. And it’s wonderful. I realize that there are levels of anxiety that are crippling and require medication (Believe me, I know) and the kind I describe here sounds more like I’m just kooky (which is sweet of you, thank you!) And I am kooky. But I also struggle with anxiety from time to time. And most of the time, during the waking hours, my kids take me out of it. They keep me busy. If its a good day then I reach optimal levels of anxiety where I’m incredibly motivated but not yet catatonic. Those are good days. These are good days. And I owe my kids a lot, because they have made me a better person. But I am me and I still wake up at 5am cursing about cursive. So if you see a really tired looking mom driving a minivan and she’s driving slower than you’d like, cut her a break. She’s probably driving around looking for her cat, tired from not enough sleep, stressing out about cursive and just doing her best. We all are. xo
****My husband is participating in that god awful no-shave Movember crisis and looks like he has a dead rat on his face. Like for real, he sent the girls a video message and it took them a while to recognize that it was their dad. I’m calling him rat man until he looks like my husband again. Its looks so awful. Like “how badly do I want a third baby” level of awful.