Last week was a pretty big week for us. Mike had a business trip to DC, so I was planning to be alone with Harper for a whole 3 days. That may not seem like much, but it was the longest we’d ever be without dad, and it sounded really scary. Then Mike’s grandma passed away, and 3 days turned into a week.
My first inclination was to panic. But it was the only situation that made sense at the time, so I accepted it. And it was so fascinating what changed during that week. It was like all the fears and doubts I had about my ability to take care of Harper slowly melted away. Even though I care for her every day there’s still a part of me deep down that thinks I either can’t do this or am not good at it. I don’t think I realized before that I was harboring all that. But as the week went on and I realized that I was doing just fine on my own, I relaxed. It was honestly one of the least stressful weeks since she was born.
I had a pretty big load of orders to make, too. But since I had no one to help me out — in the evenings, especially — I sort of switched into a different mode where I knew I could only get tiny bits of work done here and there. I just didn’t stress about that. And the crazy thing is that I got all my orders done and with much less fretting than usual. So I’m trying to move forward with that new philosophy. I won’t push it when I’m just not able to get something finished.
I also don’t think I realized how much I had been needing some completely alone time. That was something I always had in bits and pieces before, but haven’t really had since Harper was born. I really enjoyed having a few evenings to myself after she went to sleep. I could read what I wanted, watch what I wanted, eat what I wanted. Of course I missed Mike, but think about how much alone time he got! We all need that, and it’s OK.
I know this post has become kind of a brain dump, but I just wanted to mention one other thing that became clear after last week. I think something that has been holding me back from truly being able to enjoy parenting is this constant feeling that we just need to get through this next challenge, weather the fill-in-the-blank (teething, growth spurt, cold) storm, and then everything will be better. But that’s not how it works. There will always be a next thing. And if you spend all your time looking ahead to some perfect time, you’ll never truly be present in your child’s life.
I know that once I accepted that concept, I felt so much closer to Harper and happier in this role. It’s like that wonderful roller coaster metaphor in the movie “Parenthood” (one of my faves). This is a roller coaster and it’s truly nuts sometimes. But you have to get on board to enjoy the ride. You have to tilt your head back and take in all the gut-dropping slides. The last couple days with a feverish baby have brought that home, for sure. But I think I appreciate her in ways I never have before. Seeing her finally master mobility last week made me so proud. I instantly had these visions of her wobbling across a stage in a tutu or kicking a soccer ball into a net someday. I finally get what that feels like. It feels pretty amazing.