We lose ourselves, sometimes. In pieces, in moments, in the steps between up and down, in the busyness of a day or the stillness of a single minute. We lose ourselves in boxes, in vehicles, in the transition from one space to another. We lose ourselves in labels, in expectations, in sleepless nights, in meandering walks where our feet are on pavement, but our thoughts a thousand paces ahead or behind or somewhere that doesn’t even exist.
I say we, but, really, I may only mean me. I lose myself, in all of the above, often. But, this year, this month, in particular, it’s times a million.
Wedding season. Renting our old home, moving into new house, unpacking, settling in. A new year of homeschool. New co-ops. New challenges, even just navigating my way between our home and the grocery stores or figuring out which Dunkin’ Donuts will be “my” new one (Alex asked this morning, as I went through a drive-thru, if I had found “my” new Dunkin’ Donuts. Like that’s a thing. But then…I think it may be.)
My life is like a snow globe in the hands of a two year old, and I’m somewhere, slowly drifting upside down, in the midst of glittery chunks of white iridescence. (Only, replace the “glittery chunks of white iridescence” with “sticky bits of unidentifiable foods and fragments of superheroes that have lost their battles with Dharma.”)
I’m feeling a little lost.
I can’t find small things, things that I remember packing, between our old home and this new one. I can’t find the miniature rustic clothespins that I bought to snap pictures to a birdcage frame. I can’t find the Dharma Initiative magnets Vinnie gave me last Christmas. I can’t find the flour sack tea towel I bought specifically for this new kitchen.
Things. Only things. And I can let them go, especially knowing that they are probably just still somewhere, sealed up in packing tape, waiting for me to find them sometime down the line, probably once they’ve been replaced.
But, with all the shaking and growing and changing and shifting, there are some intangible things that slough off as well. Some unexpected, some inevitable.
The school year started for us last week, and despite the chaos of the week before, my children woke up on their own and settled down into school time as though it was second nature. As I stood and brewed coffee, they turned the pages in their books. I stirred my first cup and leaned against the kitchen doorframe, watching Alex sit beside Evaline with an open book of mazes, explaining to her the instructions and helping her find her way from the dot to the star.
He cheered her success.
Lila finished her subjects, then went to her bed to start rereading Anne of Green Gables.
Even Asher set right to work, reading the instructions to his own workbook pages, self-directing his studies and asking questions when he came across a particularly confusing word.
They, Alex and Lila, are not little anymore. Somehow, the distance between Alex and Evaline seems incomprehensible. How did I ever have more than one little-little child? How did we manage potty training the last three times around? How did I become a mother to a son who will be double digits before the year ends?
I can feel the shifting, the changing, happening.
I am a mom to big kids now. The questions are no longer do I start with carrot baby food, or should I give her peaches? (And the answer comes in the acceptance or rejection of a spoonful.)
Now, we’re in the woods. Now, we’re fielding questions that require Google searches and make me utter the phase, let’s see, maybe we can learn about that together. And we’re talking in hushed voices after bedtime, knowing that our voices carry and that curious ears might not yet be asleep.
Now, we’re more together than ever in this messy, busy, ever moving and changing, life.
I went back about a month ago and read some of my old writings, written when Alex was a newborn and I was a new mom. I remembered feeling lost, tired, overwhelmed. I remember watching him, cooing at him, kissing his cheeks, and all the while wondering if he could see the confusion in my eyes, or if he was blissfully unaware of just how unprepared I was for all that life was throwing at me.
Last night, I went and hugged Alex goodnight, rather than kissed him, because his mouth is full of headgear. Because he’s going to be ten in a couple months. Because he is not the chubby-thighed baby, standing with wobbly knees on my lap.
And now, I know that he knows better, just how unprepared I am for this.
But, funny thing is, he doesn’t seem to trust me any less.
And, I wonder, if it’s because I’m not trying to hide anything.
I tell them when I’m lost, when I mess up, when we’re going the wrong way on the highway, because my brain was on autopilot and I forgot exactly where we were going for the split second it took to pass the correct on ramp. I tell them when I can’t remember how to do a complicated math problem. They remind me to get the milk and the butter at the grocery store, because they know that I’ll get lost in the produce section.
And that’s okay.
I want my children to know I’m not a superhero. I want them to know that sometimes, dinner is going to be after seven, because I just can’t get it together beforehand. I want them to understand that living life to the fullest requires giving yourself a little freedom for mistakes, it means making a mess and cleaning it up, it requires apologizing and forgiveness, it requires acceptance. And I want them to understand that there are going to be periods when life is going to force you forward, ready or not.
But, you have to keep living, even when you move houses in the middle of wedding season, even when your children ask you the hard questions, even when you can’t find the small details that you thought would make your new house a home.
You can’t stop living, even when the snow globe shakes.