[So grateful to have a lovely guest post written by childhood friend and fellow mommy blogger Kristen of Oy! Kristen. She's a genius. I love her. You will to.] I swear I am still eighteen. Living in the moment, messy hair, driving my mom's convertible around town and dreaming about the future. Dreaming about traveling to Europe, dreaming about what college will be like, dreaming about the possibility of marriage and eek - maybe even babies one day. But above all else, eighteen is for dreaming. And I still feel eighteen.
The thing is. I'm not.
I am twenty-eight, living in my hometown (how did I end up back here??), married, with a baby. The past ten years have been a total surprise, and a total relief. I have seen so many dreams come true. I have backpacked across Europe, married my dream mate, finished my degree, lived exciting stints in New York and Boston, completed ministry school, pursued creative career endeavors of all kinds (Acting? Check. Voiceover? Check. Writing? You're looking at it, checkedy check.) I have lived fully and I am proud of these elements that have been the building blocks of my young life. I've tried some hard things. I've boldly put myself out there in the world when I was actually feeling super scared and unsure in my heart. And I've seen success, although it never looks like how I thought it might. While success and accomplishment feel really good, putting myself in vulnerable positions over time has taught me to remain confident even through the toughest scenarios. For instance, the time I auditioned a monologue for one of New York's biggest casting directors. There was some sweat involved in that one, especially while I waited in silence for, no lie, about 60 seconds after I was finished to hear his response. I left the room and felt relieved, shocked, and excited. Proud of myself. I didn't get the job, but I did get the sense that by just opening myself up to that audition, I was doing something hard, something that would knock most people off their feet. And that pride really informed my journey. Until I really got knocked off my feet. By doing something many of you have probably done. I had my first baby.
My son is a wonder. His sunny hair and sweet eyes and easy smile, they have wholly captured me, heart and soul. There is nothing better in this world than holding him close when he just wakes up, feeling him snuggle into me a bit, and smelling his deliciousness. There is nothing better. He's given me the gift of motherhood, awakened me to a whole other element of what it is to be a woman. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for his precious life.
I am also really really tired.
Because my son is 19 months old now. Toddling around, far too curious about toilets, demanding lots of waffles. The past 19 months (plus 9 months, because pregnancy was definitely apart of the equation) have been exhausting, maddening, and constantly marked by this feeling of , "I don't know what I'm doing!" Of course you don't know anything when you're pregnant. And when you're in labor, you have no idea what you're supposed to be doing. Then the child comes out and needs all sorts of everything all the time, and you're like, "wait, is there a hand book on what I'm supposed to be doing? Get me a hand book!" And then they get bigger and when you've mastered their previous milestone and finally feel a millisecond of calm and "I've got this", everything changes again. Like everything. Big things like when they sleep and what they eat. It's kind of like being in the Hunger Games, trying to figure out where the next freaky phenomenon is coming from and when. Phrases like "reverse sleep cycling" and "what to do if..." fill your google searches, usually at about 3am. And while all of this is going on, you forget to do things like.
Bathe. Put on makeup. Wear normal clothes. Wear anything pretty. Wear anything clean. Perhaps brush your teeth. Or your hair.
Go back to work? Sure, tons of people do it. But things are never the same. It's like your brain has been snatched my aliens and you're walking and talking and acting human, but your insides are aching for what things were like before the baby came. And it's not the baby's fault. But the sense of identity has vanished. It's hard to decipher who you are anymore. You define yourself by the monotonous tasks that you do, day in and day out. So many diapers. SO many. And the schedule feels like a cage and your dreams seem like a faraway fantasy. That 18-year-old feeling that you identified with still rings true. But that 18-year-old suddenly seems very tired. And only interested in eating dinner while watching Netflix and then going to bed.
I want to propose to you that you're not supposed to be an 18-year-old dreamer anymore. And neither am I. I'm not supposed to long for the simpler days of the past. It's time to be the 28-year-old dreamer that I am. Dreamer and mother and lover of life. Because this gift of motherhood, while it defines me in so many ways, it shouldn't be defining. And the urge to dream up new dreams and look forward to the future? It's evergreen. Always emerging, in every season of life. I just have to stop longing for the old things to reemerge, I must seek out the new blooms, and recognize the season that I'm in. It's time to be my 28-year-old self, imperfect and yes, rather tired, and own up to the joy that it is to be a tired mommy while still having a very bright, unencumbered future laced with extraordinary opportunities. This vocation of motherhood doesn't define my life, it informs my life. I am lovelier for the child that I've had. And I will become lovelier still. And if you identify with any of the spazziness that I described, I promise that the greatest is still ahead of you, too.