I felt the familiar pull. The downward spiral. The fall. The loss of control. The pieces of my life that remained in the wake of my breakdown.
Too much, too soon.
I wanted it all and I was tired of waiting so I forged ahead at a breakneck pace, shattering ceilings along the way.
I gave up my career as a teacher to stay home with our first daughter but picked up a part-time sales consulting job when she was just 6 months. I was successful and I felt driven, until it was more than our family could handle. I gave it up when my third daughter was 6 months.
Three years passed and I felt restless, eager to grab an opportunity to work as a consultant for a publisher of children’s books that I adored. I reassured myself and my husband that I could manage it all, but I failed to consider my innate drive to share my passion, gaining business and momentum along the way until it became more than we could manage.
That’s when I plummeted.
Feeling trapped. Unable to explore my professional potential. And guilty for feeling that my children were getting in the way.
Realize you are hungry and contemplate what you’d like to eat.
Break up a fight between the 2 & 4 year-old.
Look inside the fridge for your lunch.
Listen to the demands of the 2 & 4 year old who appeared out of nowhere (seriously, there must be an embedded sensor to let them know when the fridge door opens).
Give the blessed children the yogurt already!
Grab the bread to make your fantasized sandwich.
Attend to the crying baby in the back of the house.
Whisper-yell at the two year old to close the ever-loving door while you nurse a, now, distracted baby.
Frantically search for your phone to ascertain whether it is time for you to pick the 6 year-old up from her sleepover. Breathe a sigh of a relief when you read a text announcing they are keeping her until after lunch.
Calm the frustrated 4 year old who can’t figure out how to turn Paw Patrol on.
Return to the kitchen to grab the turkey, hummus and veggies to make your sandwich.
Assist the two year-old who announces she needs to go potty, now!
Nod your head yes that it is, indeed, lunch time. Abandon your sandwich attempt to heat soup, chicken nuggets, cut strawberries and put together a PBJ.
Blow on the soup until you feel dizzy. Curse at yourself for forgetting that 1 minute in the microwave is too long.
Spread the hummus on your bread. Cut your veggies and layer them, alongside the turkey.
Recognize the sound of the ending credits of Paw Patrol and seize your chance to put the two year old down for her nap. After all, it’s the “magic window” and thus, now or never.
Walk the two year old to look out the windows and doors from all sides of the house to reassure her there is indeed, no thunder today.
Change her into a diaper, turn on her noise machine, remind her that if she gets out of bed, you are closing her door and you mean it, today!
Take a bite of that big, beautiful sandwich.
Help the 4 year-old change into jammies because she wants to nap today since her big sister isn’t around to play.
Close her door and open door to now, awake baby.
Completely forget about sandwich.
Pick 6 year-old up from sleepover.
Take girls outside to play.
Give girls a bath.
Look at the clock that says 5 PM and laugh at the stale sandwich.
Let baby cry, toddler pee her pants and skip her nap, and listen to four year old tantrum until you’ve finished eating.
The dishes are still on the table, the laundry is folded but still on the couch. I’ve had dry cereal in my bowl for 1 hour, anxiously awaiting its milk but I choose you, Emma Jane. You are already 11 weeks and amidst the chaos that is our daily life, I still want time to slow down. You cry, I pick you up and rest my cheek upon yours. You settle, and I absorb the warmth between us. An osmosis of love. An exchange of energy and understanding.
You are our third and, likely, our last child so I cherish these teeny, tiny moments between us. My lips upon your forehead as I inhale your sweet newborn scent. I feel as if I am floating, this simply is too good to be true.
In ten years, the dishes will still be on the table, the laundry on the couch, and the cereal still awaiting its milk in the bowl. But you will be too big to fit inside the cradle of my arm. So I hold on a little longer than necessary, long after you have fallen asleep. I close my eyes and take quiet, deep breaths and in that moment, all time stand still. It is just you and me, Emma Jane, and that is all we need.
Photos by Danielle Ice Photography and Camille Vaughan Photography