I found myself sitting with a sick kid this week, soaked with sweat, coiled in a painful ball; from belly cramps and newly freed legs. I was in a fog, myself. Piled on the couch between deadlines and insurance refusal letters. Clients that emailed numerous times despite the automatic reply about being away for family medical necessity, and EOBs that explained nothing about our benefits except that we didn’t have any.
So I scrolled
It’s always Facebook and Instagram I turn to; reading a book makes my mind turn over the words, process. Social media numbs my senses… typically. But on this night it did not.
As I sat in my Lularoe leggings and muscle tank, craving a night at the gym and a glass of wine, I watched old friends on vacation, at work, living a life I used to embrace as my own. Late nights getting out of the kitchen, tan lines I never let completely fade. My bucket list was of my dreams… not a dream of the dreams I had.
And I felt as though I could not pass
These are not twenty-somethings living a life I once lived, too, but my thirties crew who are yet unwed or without children. Enjoying a hike through waterfalls in a faraway land, passing by icebergs I’ve only ever read about in a book, enjoying street food made in the country of origin… not from the food truck aiming to replicate something their hipster taste buds once happened upon in Brooklyn.
I watched ice clinking in glasses filled with a perfect jigger pour of oak-aged whiskey. The way a couple’s eyes lock the weekend they move in together, the tenderness of the forehead kiss when there’s still time to kiss at all.
I was shaken from my scroll
By the heaving of her small body. There was nothing left in it, of course, but that wouldn’t stop it from betraying her- giving into whatever she’d picked up at the hospital where she’d been put through pins pulled from her legs, wounds and scars forever the reminder.
No. She would get no rest and relief tonight.
As her eyes closed, her gray skin glistening on her brow, lips peaked and parted just enough to let her jagged, dry breaths escape, I looked over at my computer screen about to fall asleep.
A big group photo of friends surrounding someone I knew from college. Pearly smiles beamed back at me before the screen switched to black, and before I could stop myself, my hand dashed to the track-pad.
But it was already dark
Like a sign.
I looked back over at her body, at rest. Her right leg peeking out from the blanket, showing band aids and dry skin. Small swollen ankles, sweetly curled one around the other.
I stood, still as I could, in the middle of my living room, as to not creek the wood floors and startle my baby awake. I raised my arms up in a stretch, slightly arching my back, just enough to catch a glimpse of our family photos from last Fall that hang on the outside wall. And I saw why this is all meant to be mine now.
Someday, I may travel, or enjoy wine from the balcony of an all white hotel suite nary a child’s cry in earshot… I won’t be as young as these old friends are now. I will have weathered more storms than their younger selves. My hands will show my age, my eyes will deceive how young I feel by revealing freshly made lines each morning. Proof that I have lived a life.
I fell in love
Many moons ago. To a boy with a grin and long sideburns. He played music late into the night and enjoyed the feeling of a Fall breeze on a nighttime city bike ride.
I miss the apartment bedroom we shared, with a mattress and box spring on the floor. The bathroom where we only had a small stall. There were nights we rode our bikes, through a whiskey and fried pickle dinner stupor. We held hands and walked for miles, sipping the same extra-large coffee. A day spent on the cliff walks seemed like our right.
But I am still in love. Only three times as much… because it’s not just him and me anymore. It’s him and me and she and her. And we’re all in this together, making a bucket list and dreaming about its contents. Instead of spending a delicious Monday day-drinking a bloody Mary along side poached eggs and avocados, I check off my daily list. Of miles to run, client emails, school pick up, countless activities, fundraiser goals, and trying to get 5 hours before I wake up and do it all over again.
And I enjoy it that much more
That first sip of wine with friends, a fire pit and shared s’mores with my love after the kids have fallen asleep, a long walk with just me and the dog.
It’s not just another Saturday night at the same bar. Each moment off my check-list means more than it ever did before.
It ended there
The impasse feeling. There was a fire rekindled in me, and though it was late and my computer was dark, doing nothing but telling me about the time ticking by, I stole one more glance at my babe. She made me a mother after our first pregnancy was lost. I watched him cradle her sick body back up to the bath, yet again. Fighting to break her fever and clean her off.
I headed to the basement with another load of towels, and smiled as my feet hit each step in this house we’ve made a home. For all of these moments I am graced with in my life, are just my path. If I wasn’t their mother, who would I be? Not a smiling face in a group photo… but a woman lost. At almost 33 I know- I always wanted the life where I wake up to tiny hands groping for snuggles, bleary eyes made over a lukewarm cup of coffee- a lame attempt at flirting, the street where trick-or-treating is like a religion, and Christmas lights warm the windows of our classic New England town. Yes. I’ve always dreamed of this… I live my bucket list and get the opportunity to make another.
A vacation would be nice. Insurance that covers our medical needs would be amazing. But being their mom, his wife… there’s no word to describe that. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.