Evaline turns three today, and I haven’t made a single plan for her day. She did not wake up with balloons or with a special breakfast. She did not run out to see a gift on the table, or even a card. She woke up, to a Monday. Her birthday, but a Monday nonetheless. She woke up to school and dentists and messiness and Dharma stealing her Pinky Pie doll, and Alex rescuing it. (And repeat.)
And though, I feel a little bad for being so unprepared for her birthday, I know that she’s happy and that this morning of normal routine isn’t going to change how loved she feels, or impact her understanding of how special she is to me, to her father, to all of us.
And so, then, I sat down this morning to write, but with the determination to not write something sappy about this moment, this turning the page to three.
But then, Evie/Belle wandered into my room.
And then, Lila, gifted her with some hand-me-down trinkets and accessories.
And then, we looked through pictures of this day, three years ago – when I was just supposed to be relaxing and having a low-key day at 36 weeks – but then, finally called Vinnie and the doctor, when I was doubled over in the kitchen while attempting to make bologna sandwiches for lunch.
And then, there was this.
And I realized, I didn’t want to stop myself from writing anything sappy. I actually didn’t want to write anything at all.
I wanted to, instead, read.
Because, while some people blog to inspire others in very direct ways or to attempt to influence opinions or to market whatever it may be that there is to sell (all of which are perfectly fine reasons to blog) – I started writing when Alex was a baby, simply as a means to hold my rememberings.
And, what greater time to spend remembering, than on a birthday.
The following is from how I was feeling on her last birthday, and it’s still remarkably true for me today.
I’m baking a Funfetti cake for Evaline’s 2nd birthday. I set the timer for five minutes. In five minutes, because our house is uneven, I will open the oven and spin the cake then set the timer again to remind myself to spin it back, all in the hopes that the cake will not bulge on one side and burn on the other.
An hour earlier, I was in the driveway, attempting to measure the transmission fluid in my van.
The instructions read: Step one, park on a level surface.
Our driveway slopes downward into our house at such an angle that we need to back in if our gas is low, otherwise, it might not start the next time we get in.
Before the timer goes off, I begin sweeping our subtly sloping kitchen floor. It is a dance, chasing after plastic beads before they roll beneath the oven.
My life is choreographed chaos. It is checking timers, spinning cakes, parking backwards to keep the gas light off. It is praising, disciplining, rewarding, uplifting, understanding, all while fumbling-toward-raising, my family.
It’s forty-eight hours after baking the cake and my baby has shuffled off the last of her baby blanket, leaving a curious, loud, moody, silly, yapping, child in it’s place.
The balance shifts, my heart feels…it feels off. Not cold or dead, quite the opposite. My heart feels both sorrow and joy, peace and panic. Hold on, let go. Stay, go.
My husband took Evaline with him this morning as he went to run some errands. With the whole house to clean after her little birthday gathering yesterday, I am instead sitting on my bed, quite literally dropping tears in my coffee cup and wish I could reach for the timer.
Just five minutes more, then I can turn things back around again, make them just right.
Five minutes to make things as they should be.
Which is to say, I’m waiting for what?
To stop turning so quickly into this:
For my children to stop growing so I can just sit down and breath and enjoy them, just as they are? To have one more baby so that I can just sit and hold tightly to that newborn stage until I am finally – finally – over it?
(Never going to happen.)
For life to give me five good l o n g minutes to just feel everything all at once and then let me nap and not wake up until I want to, (forget about dinner or appointments or children scribbling all over the walls)?
For my littlest daughter to just. stay. put?
Of course not. (Besides, have you ever seen a two year old actually stay put? I mean, it would be nice, but I’ll save my prayers for miracles for something a little more plausible than that.)
Thing is, after so many years of this dance – of newborns, toddlers, children to the bus, birthday celebrations, money here, money not, job stress, life stress, the buzz and hums and hiccups, and so, so much happiness – I’m certain I don’t know what I’m waiting for at all.
Somewhere, in this dance, this constant shifting, sweeping beads before they roll under my oven, baking cakes that require extra love and attention, raising children quite the same – perhaps I’m already found.
And now, time to pour myself a less tear diluted cup of coffee.
Stunning use of your tilted house….weaving it all the way through this quest for …. balance? Really enjoyed this, felt this. I also look back and read through my blog – and decide again and again that it really is for no one but me! There’s no way anyone enjoys it nearly as much as I enjoy reading through it! Also – if you’re ever in Amsterdam (or, I imagine, Venice…though I’ve never been) you’ll get a kick out of the tilting of the houses! It’s funny – mine are 26 and 24….and these feelings you express continue to be so very, very true.
I love reading your blog, Melanie. It’s funny how close to home these posts hit. I am naturally so impatient and constantly in a state of wistful guilt as life races by. I have this false illusion that if I can “just finish” all of the things I have to do then I can finally relax and really take it all in. Reading your words breaks the pace long enough to realize how caught up we can become, but also that we’re not alone. I envy you in so many ways for your mindfulness. And it is out of my own selfishness that I praise you for keeping up with your writing on top of everything else that you do because I truly enjoy reading it!