Holding On and Letting Go

Have you had the experience of having so much to say that you’re rendered speechless?  These past few months of blogless-ness have not come from a lack of things to say.  I have so much swimming in my head, and it seems that as soon as I sit down to write, it spins faster and more out of control, and I can’t catch a single word to put down.  I’m struggling… this much I know.  Struggling partially in the way that I’ve grown accustomed to as the mother of three little children…the struggle of relentless needs and limited independence, coupled with my own frayed patience and fatigue.  This struggle is familiar to me. And, I’ve been lucky this summer to have had some breathers… hours on the beach with entertained children, time to read and to sleep.  I am so very grateful for these gifts…

And yet.

And yet I’m feeling restless, sad, and overwhelmed.

Summer is coming to an end.  I go back to teaching full time tomorrow, coupled with my per diem job as an SLP.  Maddie moves on to third grade, and my babies go to Kindergarten.  Part of me is craving the adult interaction of my job, for the routine.  Part of me is desperate to have a me that is separate from them again.  I’m looking forward to the ability to put on a skirt or a dress, confident that a child will not wind up beneath it. To drink a cup of coffee as I drive to work, alone, for the first time since having children.

But… part of me is devastated.  Devastated as I pressed kisses through their preschool window screen for the last time.  Devastated as I drove them home from that last day and listened to their happy twin babble.  Devastated as I’ve seen them lengthen and slim and become five-year-olds this summer, and now as I watch them leaving my nest with their fledgling wings. This is my new struggle.  This is the struggle of holding on and letting go.

An example…Today I held my Chloe for an hour post wasp sting to the finger.  I think this was the most traumatized she has ever been.  And for the first half hour or so, as she alternated between sobbing and howling, kicking and writhing, I alternated between feeling suffocated and terrorized.  I wanted so very badly for the pain to go away, for her to stop hurting.  Just as intensely, though, I wanted her to get off of me. I had PLANS.  Things to DO.  This was the last day of summer vacation and I wanted to clean and paint the deck, run errands, make lemon bars for lunches, etc.  It was hot, and she burrowed her way deeper into my breasts and belly with jagged elbows and feet, I’m sure sensing my level of irritation… desperate for the complete comfort of her Momma. I gritted my teeth and passed soothing words through them, patting her hair, breathing deeply to keep from screaming.  Suddenly, her little voice said, “Mommy, are there wasps in Kindergarten?”  My irritation flew away.  My throat grew tight.  I gave in to her, and I felt something release…

I’m amazed at how these two feelings, overwhelm and desperate love, can exist simultaneously in a mothers heart.  How I can feel such an intense longing for time to stand still even while I’m drowning in the moment.  I know the sentiment many mothers relay to those in the trenches like myself… “Hold on to these moments… you will miss them when they’re gone.”

I imagine my future self regarding present me in the same condescending tone that I use when I think about my past self and her obsession with registering for matching linens and tableware.  I imagine her memory-faded regrets, as pervasive as her empty, quiet house.  I imagine her telling me about how I should have held them more, played with them more, been more present.

I want to remind her, remind every mother past this point, of just how hard is to hold on and let go simultaneously.  How easy it is for your heart to swell and break, both from yearning for freedom and from attaining it.

I want her to remember the disgusting kitchen and filthy bathroom, the piles and piles of laundry, the overgrown yard and prolific weed garden and how they got that way BECAUSE we tried to savor the moments, sometimes at the expense of our own sanity.  I want to think back to how hard I tried to balance my needs with the needs of them, to preserve the “ME” inside the Mommy.

I want to remind her of the feel of Chloe’s shoulderblades as we snuggled post wasp sting on the couch, and how I likened them to her very own set of wings… ready to be tested, ready to fly.

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