[24] 29 Lessons

You are not your own.

If you've ever held a toddler while pooping, nursed while dusting, or awoken to a foot directly in your face, then you know what I'm talking about: You are not your own.

If you've ever rolled your eyes at pants hanging on the wall hook, wanted the car armrest to yourself, or have longed to just watch that dang chick flick on Netflix, then you know what I'm talking about: You are not your own.

If you've ever wanted to pick the happy hour spot for once, wished you could be the star instead of the wingman, or hoped to learn the ending of a book by actually reading it, then you know what I'm talking about: You are not your own.

And how often do we just yearn for these moments where we have our own blocked out space--physically, emotionally, spiritually? As a self-proclaimed introvert, I have learned that the best way for me to recharge is to carve out the coveted "me time."

Yet.

If you've ever longed to be needed, hungered for human touch, or been excited to share your latest epiphany with someone who will listen and care, then you know what I'm talking about: You are not your own. 

We are beings designed for community and connectedness. If we were created to live in love, it stands to reason that we need something--someone--to love. While a healthy balance in all relationships (friendships, marriages, parenting) is essential for the sake of, not only both parties but the functionality of the relationship itself, the point is we need it to exist more than we need our space. And though you can find yourself irritated over the tiniest things living in close quarters with a guy for the rest of your life, don't forget how your heart so deeply craved that simultaneous romance and comfort before he came along. 

Then the kids. Oh, the kids. My kids and I have certainly had our fair-share of togetherness time in the past six weeks. We are attached at the hip all hours of the day while we adjust to this crazy new place. But come fall, it will be time to start talks and tours and interviews for sending Iris to school, and just last night I recounted to Trevor all the overwhelming emotions that brings with it. Can it really be time? Can't I just keep her here with me?

In the good times or the bad, it comes down to one simple fact: We are not our own. Even if we chose selfishness over love and skipped town leaving it all behind, the consequences of that decision would play out forever and ever, ripples effecting people we never dreamed might be touched. We try to live singularly and we cannot. 

So whenever you feel yourself desperate for alone time, take it, for sure. But also remember that to not be your own means you are not alone, and we shouldn't want to have to go it ourselves. 

[9] 29 Lessons

Having children changes everything.

This is not an experience everyone will have, certainly not one everyone will have in their twenties. Before I became a mother, I questioned if or when I would have children. I wasn't sure I had maternal instincts (which is hilarious since that's basically what I run on now) or how you just make the decision to bring a human into the world. Have you thought about how monumental that is? That your body can grow an actual living person to put into a spot on this earth where, before your physical efforts, there was no one? I've done it twice and it still blows my mind.

One thing I was keenly aware of, however: I knew having kids would change everything. I'm working on an article forFellow in which I've been discussing this with other urban parents--the changes to their lifestyles once adding kids, and etc. In my pre-motherhood selfishness, that was what I considered "the change" to be: Obligatory adjustments to my life because I was responsible for a small person. 

Oh, and there is some of that. I hear I'll never sleep the same again. I will probably never, ever be on time again. I will never watch a Disney movie the same, nor will I be able to do anything in life without thinking of the Daniel Tiger jingle that accompanies it. Thanks to pregnancy food aversions, I doubt I'll ever love cucumbers again. (Weird?) I only spend limited, very scheduled amounts of time with some of my best friends; and Trevor and I have tried to find ways to reserve our night confined to the house after 7 as time for us to be together. All of these things are changes you make after having kids.

But this was not the everything that changed as I grew to know my daughters, as I held their little, squirmy bodies, as I watched their personalities peek through, as I experienced big things and small things in life through their bright eyes. The everything that really changed was the everything inside of me. Who I am as a person is forever altered because they are now my people--the people that I brought on to this earth. 

For someone who writes a lot about motherhood, I often struggle with how specifically to convey this exact thing. Because it's easy to joke about the ups-and-downs of a day that involves playing kitchen and poopy diapers; and it's not so hard to draw inspiration from a childlike perspective; and it's certainly fun to tell the little stories I've been collecting along the way. But at it's very core, why can I say nothing more than "motherhood has changed me," when it literally has turned everything upside down?

Today I read this:

Becoming a parent is difficult to talk and write about, not because the words are hard to find (though they are), but because when you find them, they feel too intimate to share. The smells and sounds and stirrings of the heart are individual and holy. There’s a sense in which the universal experience is yours alone when the opposite is actually true. You hesitate to say anything at all, as if staying quiet better preserves the miracle.

-Nikaela Marie Peters

And so today, I tell you, having children has changed everything for me. It probably will for you too, if or when you have children. But I can't say why or how. You probably won't be able to either. Which is why is motherhood will forever be the most phenomenal thing a person could do with her life.