I laid in bed last night, questioning everything.
Lila’s favorite stuffed animal spent the night in our outdoor garbage, officially (officially, officially, like, I’m not kidding, Lila, this is it, end of the road, I’m NOT going to change my mind and bring her back, you’ve gone too far this time, official.)
It rained, and the lid of the garbage bin was open and I could hear the rain falling on our roof, and I knew it was also on the purple fluff of that stupid unicorn.
I laid in bed last night, worrying about a Pillow Pet circa 2011.
This is how the world changes.
How it goes from soft and easy and understandable, to hard and difficult and incomprehensible.
Not why, just how. All the ways in which it changes.
All the ways in which, I, change, (bend, break, unpack myself, repack myself, get back up again.)
We used to be a family of two, then three, then four, five, and now six. We used to be small enough to share a bed, holding hands, snuggling close, listening to sleeping breaths and stroking soft heads.
But we’re growing.
And there are days, I know that I am breaking more than bending, in the midst.
Lila packed her suitcase yesterday afternoon, and walked out. In the cold, misty late afternoon. She pulled her hood up over her head and waved a firm, Goodbye!
I let her go, remembering my own childhood evenings of shoving the entire contents of my bottom drawer into a duffle bag, mumbling threats, imagining my great eight year old life-on-the-road, but never actually going anywhere.
But then, Lila walked. Our neighborhood is safe enough, but it was raining. And so, I sent Alex, in the rain, to follow her, to bring her home.
He ran back and reported to me that she was almost to the main road and that she refused to turn around.
This is how I wound up, in flannel pajama pants and giant Bogs, parked by the mailboxes of my neighborhood, flagging my daughter back to the minivan.
Lila smiled as she approached, as though this were the moment in a kid-centric movie, where the great reunion happens after a long, arduous trial (in which the kid has been proven right, or brave, or somehow, on some plane of thought, the victor over the adult.)
But this wasn’t a movie. This was a Tuesday afternoon, in the rain, and I was scowling.
In bed last night, I said to Vinnie, how comfortable I am to say now, we’re done – with having babies, with pregnancies and newborn sleeplessness and all of the chaos. I’m really, truly, comfortable and at peace with the notion.
But it’s not because of the newborns. I love newborns and being needed and being the center of a world that I can control, at least on some level.
It’s because of how things (myself, them, we all) change.
It’s because when I wasn’t getting any sleep when any of my babies were newborn, they were with me. We were together, snuggling and sleepless and both miserable and blissful at the same time.
Now, when I am sleepless and staring at the ceiling, the rest of my family is sleeping in their own beds, while I’m worrying about stupid stuffed animals and whether or not I am doing permanent damage to precious psyches by insisting that they do their school work, or not whine over who gets to help me with supper.
I’m worried about what would have happened, what could have happened, if Lila had made it to that main road. Would she have stopped? Would she have been hit by a car? Was it because I asked her to read her Ivy and Bean book, or clean her room, or not yell at her brother?
Truth is, there are some days, I am not sure I can sustain myself through the four that we have. There are some days, lately, when I’m feeling both happy to be in the midst of a challenge (because, I do like a challenge) and completely defeated and prepared to ship them off to a boarding school.
This morning, laying in bed, I heard Dharma frantically barking in the yard, and the rumble of the big red garbage truck chugging through our small streets.
I stirred, feeling at once awful and then resolved. Well, I guess I actually did it. Fluffy is gone.
But, I am not ready to give up bending.
Bending is what motherhood is.
I called out to Alex, and he came running, wearing his boots over his pajamas.
Did the truck already come to our house?
Can you go run and grab Fluffy?
I was just going to, and he took off running, excited for the thrill of a morning adventure, excited to be a hero. The other kids cheered him on from the window.
And another day begins.