I cannot seem to sleep past 5am anymore. No matter what day it is, no matter if I have to go to work or not, my eyes flip open at about 5am automatically every single day. Our kids sleep until 6 or 6:30, but there I am, wide awake, full of anxiety and worry and gratitude.
There are so many things moms think about at 5am. Here are just a few:
- Where will these kids go to pre-k next year?
- How will we afford it?
- How long will we be able to keep our nanny 3 days a week and what the hell will the logistics be when they start going to kindergarten?
- WHAT ABOUT THE SUMMERS?
- It's raining hard. Will our basement flood again after we've done all the work and paid for fixing it twice now.
- Do they have rainboots that fit them and will they fit for a while or do I need to get new ones?
- Are they learning all they need to know to keep up?
- I hate leaving them 3 days a week to go to work and yet I appreciate that I get to/have to go to my office and work alone 3 days a week.
- HOW ARE WE GOING TO AFFORD ANY OF THIS. HOW DO PEOPLE AFFORD ANY OF THIS.
- Are they happy?
- Are they well adjusted?
- Will I ever have another haircut that doesn't in some tiny way resemble the old Kate Gosselin?
- Do they feel the all encompassing love that crushes my heart every second of every day even when I'm super frustrated with them?
- Do they have their show and tell items picked out and I cannot wait to hear what the other kids in class bring and what they say about them. I am in love with all those kids.
- How can I be nicer to my husband?
- We need to change the way we speak to each other and break old patterns because these kids are hearing and really understanding our arguments now. We need to fight fairly and show them that's ok and that we can work through it and own up and even apologize when necessarily.
- We need to be as good to each other as we are to the kids. We both love these kids like crazy, but we need to remember that we love each other like crazy too.
- How long will I be able to keep doing what I'm doing at work and how will it evolve as the years keep going by?
- My parents. His parents. Just, please let them be healthy and happy for as long as possible. I miss my parents every day we aren't close to them. My heart lurches every time I think of them and my gratitude knows no bounds. These kids have two sets of grandparents in their lives that love them beyond measure.
- We get to visit my parents next week and I get to pack for myself and these kids. I mean, what a giant pain in the ass, and yet, how lucky am I? LISTS ARE MY FRIENDS. I AM VERY GOOD AT LISTS. I SHOULD MAKE ANOTHER LIST RIGHT NOW.
- When am I ever going to properly finish this book I've been already working on for a few years.
- Will my belly ever every not look like it's still pregnant?
- What will the world be like when they are adults? If they make it to being adults? OH GOD.
- Will we make it through these next few years without imploding as a country? I AM SERIOUS.
- Will we keep being able to spread kindness and love without letting this hate I am so against invade my being for the people spreading the hate? SEE WHAT BEING UP AT 5AM GETS YOU?
- What would happen if one or both of us aren't here?
- What would happen if one or both of them aren't here?
- QUESTION EVERY SINGLE DECISION I MADE YESTERDAY.
- How are they so impossibly sweet to each other?
- Do they know how grateful we are to be their parents?
- Am I doing anything right here?
- Do they know they've given me the missing pieces of everything good I've ever longed for, truly longed for all my life?
- Will they be like us? Oh god that would be terrible. And awesome. Already, they are so much like us and they are hilarious.
- Am I doing a good job as their mama? I fail daily, but I tell them I'm sorry when I do. They say they forgive me, but do they?
- How much irreparable damage have we already done?
- How much love and kindness must we already have instilled as they show it in abundance each day.
- Why are they such crazy maniacs?
- They crack us up big time.
- They are pretty damn amazing kids if I do say so myself.
- We must be doing something right. I will take a little of the credit. YES I WILL.
- What did I ever do to deserve them?
- Thank you universe for allowing me to wake up sober yet again today. I'll do the next right thing so that I can keep it that way. These kids need me sober.
- Great big overwhelming gratitude abounds.
OK, that was an hour well spent. See you tomorrow morning at 5am, anxiety! I got a full day ahead of squeezing the people I love, trying to spread kindness and levity, and bringing home the proverbial bacon.
We've been through a hell of a lot to get here and we will go through a hell of a lot more. But we have each other. For today. Just for today. It's easy to say why worry about things I cannot control, and to a large extent, I'm able to walk myself through the anxiety and get to a place where I can function each day, but it takes practice. Parenting throws so many curve balls that we can never predict, but we can walk through it all one day at a time.
Here's what I know for sure, and I share this with you because I know I'm not that unique. I know if I'm awake at 5am with all these thoughts, there must be many more of us out there doing the same thing. We are not the first nor the only people feeling what we are feeling right now. Take comfort in that fact.
If I'm worrying about them, anxious, and questioning all these things, it's gotta mean something, right? I'm certainly not indifferent. There is no ultimate right and wrong in the parenting guidebook (that I tossed out years ago anyway). We love our kids. We do what's best for them in our own view. We pay attention to the cues and stories they tell us and we react accordingly. We read them books and give them hugs and talk about inappropriate touching and who is a safe person and who is not. We hope we are their safe people. Always.
This parenting business is the hardest, most stressful, most rewarding thing I've ever done in my life. But thank goodness, just like everything else, I put it to bed each night having found satisfaction and joy and sadness and regret. I log it all. Then I spring awake at 5am to do it all again. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Snuggle more, listen more, practice more patience, and be kind no matter how difficult it seems. Even to my dear husband as he struggles in similar yet different ways but is trying his best and I am so so grateful for him. Those are my goals. Today is a new day, a new chance. I'm filled to brim with gratitude because each day really is a gift. It's the cake. These kids are the frosting.
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