We’re in such an interesting season of life right now, one full of contradictions. Our kids are still young enough to want to be around us, while we are constantly searching for moments of solitude. It’s nearly always (no exaggeration), so loud in my house that I commonly joke that I can barely hear the voices in my head. As I write this, I’m sitting on my couch on a sleepy Saturday afternoon, my wife sits adjacent to me in an oversized chair basking in the warmth of the afternoon sunlight. It’s actually my favorite seat in the house. I’m really a little jealous. She beat me to it after we both snuck inside while the kids were outside playing.
Meanwhile, the girls have now found us. They’ve each ventured inside and into the kitchen complaining about being hungry (again!). I tried to ignore them for as long as I could (which was all of 2 minutes) before Sloane starts yelling, daddy, where’s my mommy blanket? She’s waiting at the top of the stairs outside the laundry room expecting me to retrieve her blanket immediately. As for the other three, they’re all at the kitchen counter “making lunch” which really simply means making a mess. And Coco, our newish puppy of now 7 months who had been running up and down the stairs, is now lying in wait in the kitchen, ready to pounce for any morsel of food that drops. As if she doesn’t have a perfectly good and full bowl of food nearby.
Samantha and I rewatched the movie This is 40 the other night and we were reminded of just how close to home it hits now. Granted, when it came out 10 years ago, we were just about to enter our thirties, only had one child, and couldn’t fathom the complexity that would become our lives as we also approach our forties in a few months.
Yet here we are, and what a beautiful, wonderful, terrifying, crazy, hectic, exhausting, and amazing life it has become. Usually on Fridays we have family movie night, but last night we were all too tired to pull ourselves together for a full movie. Instead we did a “fix your own dinner” night, popped some popcorn, and watched several episodes of Fuller House (I know it’s cheesy, but 80s nostalgia runs deep in this household… we also are big into reruns of Cosby Show and Different World).
Now, on what’s traditionally our day of sabbath, where we stay in our PJs, sleep in, eat a late brunch together and lounge around all day, I just can’t quite seem to reset as fast as I’d like to. I read something earlier today about ambient stress or exhaustion. Maybe that’s what’s going on here. It’s not for lack of trying. We’ve instituted practices to create a bit of spaciousness, whether it’s quiet times or date nights or weekend getaways. It all helps. It’s just that eventually, the constant grind of parenting and adulting catches up to you.
Which is why it’s in moments like these that I like to remind myself of the absurdity of this season. It’s so short in the grand scheme of things (or so I’m told), yet it feels so long and so tiring while you’re in it. There will likely come a season where I’ll look back fondly on these days where I have all my girls under one roof, even if it contains no less than 6 epic meltdowns a day.
Maybe that’s why it’s important to make the most that I can out of moments like these. Like right now, everyone has somehow left downstairs, venturing to other parts of the house to momentarily wreak havoc. Even Samantha has slipped away, and you know how when mommy leaves, the main attraction is gone. I can still hear the laughter, singing, and intermittent yelling upstairs, but at least now, I can also hear the voices in my head. And they’re telling me to hop on my bike for an afternoon ride.
They say, if you want to be kind to yourself, give yourself advice that you would offer to someone you care about. When I think about it like that, I would tell myself the following…
Do something regenerative like going outside. You’ve been inside watching college football for hours, you probably just need some fresh air and sunshine.
Breathe. Go for that bike ride, and breathe again. Get out of your head and into your body, and then perhaps you’ll be able to reset again.