My brain doesn’t stop. Ever. Tonight I found myself thinking about my thinking (metacogintion anyone?!)… about the ridiculous things that go through my brain at any given moment and the way it’s impacting my daily life. See, my brain does this thing where it flashes forward to a flashback all at once. Like tonight, for instance, I’m in Vaida’s room putting her to bed and by the crack of light coming in the door, I just watched as this little human belted her heart out in the most broken-english rendition of “Let It Go” that I’ve ever heard. Her tiny little voice pausing to make up new words, her arms out-stretched, and eyes closed… she just laid there singing herself to sleep while I watched in awe. And then my brain did it. I was fast-forwarding to her high school graduation; watching her march across a stage while Claire sat next to Brandon & I in the audience. Both girls grown and so different… and in that instance, my heart absolutely ached for the little 2 year old who sang with such reckless abandon in her crib just “yesterday” and my arms yearned to hold the happiest 4-month-old baby of all time. Before I knew it, tears were streaming down my face in that dark room; my heart genuinely missing this priceless moment as it was happening right in front me. Then I was abruptly snapped back to reality by a tiny finger poking me in my eye. “Can-Tocs [contacts], Momma.” she exclaimed with delight.
Immediately I wiped my tears away and laughed at her ridiculousness. I love her words now. Chee-Chos [Cheetos], Foot-cupper [cup-holder], Ringin’ Room [living room]… My tears disappear without a trace and I think to myself, “We need triple A batteries and ranch.” There’s my super-awesome brain again, being all weird.
I laid down on her floor waiting for her sleep-breathing to start before I attempted my exit and I just let my brain go where it wanted. I thought about how often I’m brought to happy tears by the impossibly adorable things my girls do on a daily basis and why that is. That’s when I really discovered the flash-forward-flash-backs that have been going on. It’s like my instinctual way of preparing my heart for the most bittersweet moments of my life.
See, I’m constantly told that it goes so fast. Every single day I’m warned about blinking… about turning around and watching Brandon give our girls away. About how short this life is and how quickly they’ll be grown. I know it’s true because just last week Brandon asked me out to dinner and now we’re approaching our 4-year wedding anniversary with 2 little ones. I know it. I get it. But somehow, to me, knowing it isn’t making it better. Knowing how fast it goes is only causing me hold on tighter (which makes it so much harder to let little moments go).
A few months ago there was this over-the-top sad poem circulating my News Feed about how there’s a last time for everything we do as parents: the last time you carry them to bed, the last time they fall asleep in your lap, the last time you nurse… it goes on to say that you don’t realize it’s the last time until it’s already over. My Lord, I SOBBED my face off reading that stupid thing. It was SO SAD. You know what it made me do? It made me want to put the rails back on Vaida’s crib and shove Claire back in her newborn clothes (unlikely, I know). It made me want to invent a time-freezer or a rewind button. You know what it didn’t do? It didn’t allow me to think of those little moments as victories for my babies… as important milestones in their exciting life journey. Instead, it made me visualize all of these tiny tombstones floating over the “lasts” while momma just wailed on in unencumbered sadness. That kind of emotion is exhausting in the worst way. Life IS too short for that nonsense.
With all of these flash-forward-flash-backs happening, I find it very hard to live in the “now,” I’m constantly grabbing my phone in hopes that 7,423 pictures a day will somehow help me freeze time. And if my brain stops being stupid long enough to just let me be in the “now”, I’m so tired that all I can manage to do is sleep (which inevitably leads to dreaming about my FWFB episodes). The public service announcements that are plastered all over the internet – about the realities of parenthood – aren’t doing me any favors either. How many different compilations of lists can people make to steal my parenting joy? (You know, “12 Ways Your Kid can Drown Without Water” and “14 Reasons Your Toddler Hates Your Guts” Oh, and “Top 5 Ways You Suck at Parenting.”) Please people, stop already with these. I’m already doomed to cut up my kid’s hot dogs until they’re 27 and purchase a dash-cam/intercom for their driving days. All of these warnings are turning me into a hypothetical helicopter momma in the worst way. It has all simply ruined my ability to turn my brain off.
And so, as my babies literally age before my eyes and my grocery list grows in random thought intervals, I’ll wrap up my ramblings with my goal for tomorrow. Hold your babies. Snuggle them. Delight in their smiles. Don’t worry about tomorrow or what may no longer be… just fall in love with everything about them that still is. Feel the joy in their milestones and not the sadness in the finality of it. Find a way to stop thinking, stop worrying, and start embracing… and if you have any spare time to run out, we need croutons.