Once Upon Another Time
I lost the baby pool by 4 hours. The man who is technically still my husband has a new baby as of 4:00 am yesterday. I have spent the last 24 hours trying to decipher what it is that I am feeling. I think the answer lies somewhere in the haunting Sarah Bareilles song that has been running through my head on a loop since yesterday afternoon, "Once Upon Another Time"...
Once upon another time, somebody's hands who felt like mine, turned the key and took a drive, was free
I recall the sun sank low, Buckley on the radio, cigarette was burning slow, so breathe
Just yellow lines and tire marks, sun-kissed skin and handle bars, and where I stood, was where I was, to be
No enemies to call my own, no porch light on to pull me home, and where I was is beautiful, because I was free
Once upon another time, before I knew this life was mine, before I left the child behind me
I saw myself in summer nights, and stars lit up like candle lights, I made my wish, but mostly I believed
In yellow lines and tire marks, sun-kissed skin and handle bars and where I stood, was where I was, to be
Once upon another time, decided nothing good in dying, so I would just keep on driving, because I was free
This song resonated with me deeply during my first few months in the rabbit hole. At the time it made me think about the summer of 1991 when I met the EX, when I was full of fun and still free to be who I was. It made me think about how, by getting married so young, I never had the opportunity to define myself. I would listen to it and think about how badly I wanted the freedom to just be who I am, even though I am not sure what that even means. That was 17 months ago, I am now on the path towards defining myself, so why is this song haunting me today? I've come to the conclusion that the birth of this baby is making me long for a different Once Upon Another Time.
Once Upon Another Time, I had babies. Of course I still do, as I tell my kids, "You will always be my baby, even when you are 120!". But it's not the same anymore. There was a time, not so long ago, that my world had a purpose, and my purpose was my babies. I may not have been a stay-at-home Mom for most of their young lives, and I certainly wasn't President of the PTO, but for the most part my world happily revolved around them. Now my world just spins aimlessly.
Once Upon Another Time there was a feeling of warmth, comfort and safety in my life. There isn't enough room on the internet to list all of the things I loved about my kids being younger. The overall feeling was pure joy. The simple pleasure of hanging around the house on a Saturday afternoon, cooking something for dinner that they would no doubt complain about, while they went about the business of being kids. Or the warm satisfaction of getting them bathed, into their jammies and cuddling up on the couch to watch TV. Or going to bed at night long after they were asleep, having had the joy of tucking them in hours earlier. Or the contagious excitement of experiencing the world through their young eyes. And nothing was better than creating magical holidays and birthdays for them. Well nothing except for the hugs. That's probably what I miss the most, the endless supply of snuggles and hugs.
All of that is gone now. We are all rarely, if ever, home at the same time. And if we are they are in their new, older worlds. They are much too busy, and too old, for cozy jammies and cuddling up to watch TV. I am almost always asleep before they are. They still love our holiday traditions, but the magic of childhood is decidedly absent. They are very loving, I still get a hug here and there, but the days of super giant snuggle hugs are gone. Sure, there is much to enjoy about them in their new older form. And my son is still technically a kid (though almost a teenager). It's just different now. Back then, they were my world, the years were formed by tiny magical moments and time was marked by their milestones. It is as though there was a warm, magical, golden glow that surrounded those younger years that has been extinguished.
This isn't new. It has been a large part of the emotional processing I have done over the past year. I just don't focus on it. Because I'm no different than any other Mom whose children are getting older, so who am I to complain? And as emotional as I am about this, I also remember that having small children is exhausting and often frustrating. Of course it wasn't all magic and I know the emotion causes a purely nostalgic view of that time. I understand that life is a series of chapters, and the magical chapter has ended. In most ways I am ready to move on with gratitude for having experienced such joy. It's just that this baby is stirring up all of the emotions that I am a master at suppressing.
He gets to have the magic again. And I think that makes me angry. Because, from where I stood he didn't appreciate it when he had it the first time. I have no way of knowing what he was experiencing, he never shared that. It's quite possible he was full of repressed joy. But I feel like I did it alone. Not single Mom alone, but emotionally alone. When I would express how magical or fun something was and try to share a "moment" with him I was met with indifference. I never had the experience of looking at my husband while I was interacting with my kids and seeing him watch me with loving eyes. I never had the experience of locking eyes with him and smiling over a childhood "moment" we were witnessing. I didn't get to have fun with my husband creating holiday magic. I was Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny alone. If he did help with any of those things it was because I nagged him until he couldn't stand it anymore. And instead of having fun he spent the time giving me the third degree about how much the gifts/candy, etc. cost. But that didn't ruin it for me because my kids are amazing. I treasured every second of it, and wouldn't change a thing. Now he gets to do it all again. He has a new baby AND the 5 year old. I hope he is smart enough to enjoy it this time.
As for that song, the lyrics mean something different to me now than they did 17 months ago. I will just keep on driving, even though things may not be easy and I have no idea which life is mine. And maybe 20+ years from now I will look back at this transitional phase of my life and say...Once Upon Another Time, where I was, was beautiful
of having fun he spent the time giving me the third degree about how much the gifts/candy, etc. cost. But that didn't ruin it for me because my kids are amazing. I treasured every second of it, and wouldn't change a thing. Now he gets to do it all again. He has a new baby AND the 5 year old. I hope he is smart enough to enjoy it this time.
As for that song, the lyrics mean something different to me now than they did 17 months ago. I will just keep on driving, even though things may not be easy and I have no idea which life is mine. And maybe 20+ years from now I will look back at this transitional phase of my life and say...Once Upon Another Time, where I was, was beautiful.