Sometimes I think back to these funny Alfred Hitchcock movies my dad would sometimes watch with me. I’ve never been a scary movie person so even the dated black and white ones would still scare me. But dad loved scary movies and it was always something I wished I could share with him. These movies seemed to be the happy medium we found. One of them was called something like “the window” or “the watcher”, I can’t even remember and I’m too tired to google it now. A guy, I think wheelchair bound, used to take pictures of his neighborhood from his window. Probably creepy in today’s world but back then he was just an observer. Until he observed what he believed to be a murder in a window from the building across the street. I can’t even remember the movie, the outcome…none of it. I want to say the cops didn’t believe him but then he ended up saving the girl’s life. Let’s go with that. It’s a happy ending. Let’s let our brains think that.
These last few months I’ve had every feeling under the sun. If there is a word to describe it, I felt it. If there isn’t a word to describe it, I felt it. When my daughter was born and hospitalized I went through everything you think I would….pain, loss, frustration, anger, happiness, joy, love…..when we came home it continued, along with so many more. Disappointment, embarrassment, more anger, sadness, loss, grief, depression, elation, exhilaration, love, happiness, carefree, self-doubt, self-hate, self-love,…..I mean some day I hope to sort it all out and help somebody else through this, but even still now I have more emotions than I can count on a daily basis.
It seems like just when you think your life is coming into a routine, just when you feel like you might be able to have a handle on it, it changes. Something, anything (big or small) changes and you are forced to find a new normal once again. I know in the beginning for us it was simply survival. Get to tomorrow. What does tomorrow need? Tomorrow needs a baby that needs to be fed, loved, stimulated, worked on physical therapy, possibly a doctor appointment, a bath, some meds, lots of snuggles and kisses. Tomorrow needs a toddler who needs to go to daycare, pack her swimsuit for water play, bring money for day care, don’t feel guilty about money for daycare when you are on maternity leave, does she have a snack, is it not a day care day?, amusement park?, swimming?, invite a friend over….do something to make her feel loved, important, a priority, joy…..then add a husband who needs some sort of assurance and love, dogs that I mostly forget I have, a house that needs cleaning, a yard that needs mowing, insurance that needs calling, bills that need paying…..I mean it was literally a day by day situation.
As soon as I got in the groove, we moved.
I went back to work. Just two days a week. (Side note since I’ve been back I haven’t worked less than four days a week because let’s get all the hours we can right?). So back in the saddle I go and I’ll be damned if I don’t say it felt oooohhhh soooo good. I mean, I missed my babies. I did. But we had one of my best friend’s kids watching the girls just one day a week and we made it work the rest. (Opposite schedules). So me being gone just meant Andy had to deal. And can I just get an “Amen” from allllll the mamas out there that know if they are home the babies are “theirs”?! Like, you may even have a truly great husband who tries really hard, but your kids are still looking for YOU! So it’s like a default setting where if you are home, they are yours. In order to be free….you must leave. Am I right?! So that part felt great.
But then came the guilt fast and quick. Am I doing too much like my mama is always reminding me not to? Am I giving my time where it is really important? Am I working for something we need now or should I be home making memories?
It is a never ending fight right my people?! How much is too much? How little is not enough? What is it that you need in your soul? But what is it your babies need right now? Ugh. The eternal fight.
So let’s hop this timeline to tonight when I got perspective. My new years resolution was to download my phone pictures and videos every month so that when the time came (ahem…when I ran out of space) it wouldn’t be a four hour/three night job. I was pretty successful at it for a while but then, you know, I had a baby, that baby almost died, I almost died, I went through hell…and well…now we’re back. But it took a minute (it’s ok to laugh at that). So in order to put them in the computer I first have to delete the nonsense. The videos that I just sent for a joke to a friend, a bunch of memes, recipes I will never make….you know, the stuff. So tonight I sat and decided I was getting through the list. It started in May, right after we got home. Ugh.
I don’t think I fully prepared myself to go through some of these photos and videos. My baby girl looks so healthy and happy these days it’s hard to see her in the tough shape she was in….but worse….it’s hard to just feel those feelings again. The ones I tucked away deep and said I was going to get over. I’m telling you, one video, one sound of my voice, can take me right back to that moment of doubt and worry and it is soooo exhausting going through that clip by clip.
But here is the beauty I found in it…….
Ever since we got home, I have been evaluating myself every day. Every night I close my eyes the first thought I have is “what was today, what did it look like, what did I do, what can I do better tomorrow, what did I waste time on?” Like a serious self improvement journey. And there were times it was ugly. So ugly. Like, you guys, there were times I was probably too drunk to even evaluate myself fully. (And maaaaannnn does that hurt to actually type). There were times I was too angry with my husband and the little help I felt he gave me, putting his job over mine all of the time. He has to worry about himself and his job….I have to worry about my job, the kids, the house, the bills, the groceries, the dinner…..ugh….I mean right? There were times I just hated myself when I closed my eyes. For so many reasons. I didn’t spend enough time holding the baby. I didn’t work hard enough. I didn’t have enough patience with Ricklan. I didn’t do my best. I napped when I should have cleaned. I watched a show when I should have listened to a podcast. I cleaned when I should have played with my babies. Like it was just an endless cycle.
The good news is, I’m getting better at it. Like all of it. Not judging myself so harsh, and spending my time more wisely. It also helped to go through my phone. Because let me just tell you, for every negative emotion I can feel all over again….there are four times the amount of positive ones. I have videos of the whole summer. Ricklan living her best life. The zoo, Darien Lake, friends in our backyard, walks with the family…..in all of those there is also the baby, quiet and content but comfortable and living a great life.
Then there are the ones that make me cry. The ones that are just me and my baby. The ones where I know Ricklan was in day care because if she wasn’t she would have found her way into the camera by the time I was done recording. The ones where I’m just talking to my baby. I’m just telling her I love her over and over again. I’m asking her if she can see me because I wasn’t sure she could. I’m asking her if she could hear me because I wasn’t sure she could. I’m asking her if her body even recognizes her own mama…..because I wasn’t sure she could. Y’all…I’m rooting for my baby. I’m cheering her on. Coaching, praying, hoping, loving…just doing everything a mama should. And I can say from where I stand right now, I’ve done a damn good job.
So what I’m asking you to do tonight….is to reflect, but in a better way. Don’t just use your brain. Because our brains only remember what we think is important and sometimes we remember it all wrong. But look through some pictures or look at some videos. Look….at a different window. Sometimes when you look through the front window all you see is one person doing all the work. But when you look through the side window you see the other person lifting them up. Y’all here what I’m trying to say? Look at the whole thing. Not just your memories, but the whole thing. Get the whole picture. You may even surprise yourself.
I’ll bet a lot of money when you look back you’ll remember the best of the best times, you’ll see your babies smiling, you’ll see all of things you have accomplished since then….and you will be able to look at your life through a different window. Give it a try. I know it’s going to help me sleep better tonight.
I wish I was tech savvy enough to link a video. I’m not (yet). This is a screen shot from one of them. I took a two minute video of my daughter playing with a toy on a play mat because it meant she SAW the toy. It also meant her brain told her to REACH for it. It was big. It meant a lot. And I wanted to document it. Because, that’s what mom’s do.