Hi there, Me From-4-Years-Ago,
I have to admit: You’re looking a little dead behind the eyes. But there’s a hint of quiet rage simmering in that cloudy stew of exhaustion.
Yep, there it is. That suppressed fury that boils over every time your 2-year-old takes a dump in his pants 10 minutes after you asked him to sit on the potty.
Because one kid is two, right? And the other one is an infant? What a shitshow. Potty training one while nursing the other is a real carnival of horrors, huh?
And getting home from work is the best. Both kids are pissed off from a long day at daycare and everybody’s starving, but they’re all in your business so you can’t make any food without burning them or tripping over them.
Ah, yes, the good ol’ days of being so needed you could just explode. When you can’t go to the bathroom without an audience, and you can’t escape them even in your sleep because you’re not getting any.
Oh yeah, I remember that life. And that sweet haircut that really isn’t one because you never blow-dry it and haven’t had it cut since 2012. And those dark knit cotton clothes that show neither puke nor shit nor snot (nor joy) and can be washed and dried without any fear of ruining them because it’s tough to ruin bleh.
Oh, no! Don’t be silly! You look great! I mean…you look fine. Totally fine. Just as fine as you’ll continue to feel for another two to three years.
I know, I know, of course you love your kids, so much that you’re often overwhelmed with sentimental tears over the slightest milestone. They’re so sweet and silly, and they love you so much…
But you’re also just pissed. That you’re never alone. That you work full-time just to pay for daycare. That you’re so much less patient than you thought. That the older one always comes to your side of the bed in the middle of the night. That you have to bring the baby’s bouncy seat into the bathroom with you so he won’t scream bloody murder the length of your absence. That you have to pump in the car while you’re at work and spend 30 minutes a night washing pump parts after the kids go to bed. That “sour hour” is the most substantial chunk of time you spend with your kids on weeknights. That you can never work hard enough to feel like you’re succeeding at your job or with your kids. That it seems like you’re always waking up when all you want to do is sleep.
Believe me, I remember. It wasn’t all that long ago. I know you’re angry.
You’re not? Well…you may be too tired to realize it right now, but the hell you aren’t.
And why wouldn’t you be? Everything is different.
It’s moving, empowering, and exciting, but it’s also scary, frustrating, and constant. You are always on the clock. The demand for your love and attention is relentless. And new opportunities for failure are materializing daily.
It’s rough. And maybe you don’t want to admit you’re angry yet. It’s probably best you stay focused right now — there’s a lot on your plate.
The good news is, about four years from now, you’ll realize how angry you were because suddenly you’re not so mad anymore. It’s amazing.
It doesn’t happen overnight, of course. There’s a whole come-to-Jesus season where you realize that working isn’t working, so you quit your job and stay home with the kids full-time.
I know. It’s a nightmare some days. But it turns out to be totally worth it. Before you know it, one is in first grade, the other is in half-day preschool, and you’re easing back into work, one client at a time.
And they sleep now — all night, almost every night. Except when there’s a full moon. Or a fever. Or a puking episode. Or a bout of bedwetting. But for the most part, you can sleep again. Sometimes as late as 8:00 on the weekends if the boys are really into the iPad and refrain from conversing like they’re yelling across a canyon.
Because, oh yeah, they both talk now. Full sentences. And they’re loud as fuck.
But they get along. They play together. They watch movies and shows and play safely with neighbors in the front yard.
Sure, you intervene when the wheels of brotherly love fall off. Or when one of them is riding the office chair he found in the garage down the driveway into the street. Or when they ask you to play Trouble or snuggle on the couch or listen to the minute details of a complex game scenario they’ve made up involving characters from a video game.
But you get to work out again, entire half-hours at a time while they hang out with Daddy, never once losing their shit because Mommy has left the room.
And you feel good about your time away from them. They have friends at school they’re excited to see and babysitters who you’re confident can deal with their shit.
The fog has lifted. You’re gradually reclaiming little scraps of freedom that feel like luxurious indulgences compared to the barren wasteland your me time has been.
You feel…good again. Good enough to realize how angry you were because you’re not mad anymore.
So, you see? It’s gonna be okay. Your life will never be the same again. But where you’ll be four years from now is pretty great. A shit-ton better than your current situation any way you slice it.
Hang in there, Me From-4-Years-Ago. We’ll see each other again before you know it.
But for now, I’ve gotta go. Me Of-4-Years-From-Now is blowing up my phone. Something about puberty…? I don’t know. I guess I should just enjoy this age while it lasts.
You too, Former-Me. You too.