Friday, November 6, 2015

This is it

I keep composing this post in my head, and every time I think about it, the Huey Lewis lyric "This is It!" starts playing in the background of my mind. The rest of the song really couldn't be less applicable the end of maternity leave...but the title fits, and the vibe is a little more appropriate than the other song that comes to mind: The Final Countdown. (For some reason I also keep thinking of In my Life by the Beatles, and then it devolves into Closing Time, followed by the Vitamin C Graduation I think it'd be best for me to stop singing and just start writing...)


This is it. 

My last day of maternity leave before I head back to the office on Monday. I've written about the transition back to work before (twice actually)...and so much of that still applies. I'm still weepy about leaving my baby. I'm still nervous about how to put a different me, back in the same work box. But I've figured it out before. We've made it work before. My other babies were ok. We will all be ok again. 

This time I'm not mourning what I'm leaving, or looking with anxiety on what's to come as much as I'm simply looking back with gratefulness on what we've had. I see maternity leave as a gift. Yes, it's an incredibly trying time, full of change and challenges, but above all that it is a gift. It's an extravagant blessing of time, with no expectation other than learning about and falling in love with a brand new baby human. As a mom of three I know how busy things can get, and how fast life can fly by, so for me to have twelve full weeks to dote on and fawn over and marvel at this sweet creation I've been given...well, it just doesn't get better than that.

A few weeks ago, I started panicking that my maternity leave was almost over (I had to fight this feeling multiple times of the last three months) and I worried I didn't have much "to show" for it. This stage goes by so quickly, and can become a repetitive blur of sleepless nights and mundane days. I feared reaching the end of my time off and feeling like I hadn't made it count, hadn't done enough, hadn't savored it properly. I felt sick at the possibility that I had been given a this glorious gift, and had squandered it. When I looked back on this time, what would I remember? What did we do? What did it mean?

So I did what I do when my mind is jumbled and my heart is hurting...I reflected, and I wrote. I wrote down all the things I could think of that we did over this time. And though I didn't come close to capturing the infinite teeny tiny individual moments over the past twelve weeks, I still amassed quite the list. And with every entry into the unofficial log, I felt more at peace. I did have something to show for it all. I have so, SO much. 
Gave baths; Changed diapers; Went to the fair (twice in one week); Ate frozen yogurt; Saw brand new baby lion cubs; Played at the playground (and the other playground, and that other playground...all the playgrounds!); Wiped down the kitchen 1,000 times; Saw a regatta; Folded tiny laundry; Used the elliptical (twice); Fulfilled near constant requests to "Set up the bounce house?!"; Joined a bible study; Rode bikes; Ate, ate, and ate some more; Nursed, nursed, and nursed some more; Took neighborhood walks; Stressed too much about my weight; Made new friends; Went swimming; Snuggled; Went on lunch dates; Met with our life group; Stockpiled milk; Read bedtime stories; Read those same bedtime stories again; Wore out my phone battery; Volunteered at church; Swaddled/Rocked/Repeated; Wrote (for this blog, for baby books, for other sites...); Played with the neighbors; Planned a birthday party; Trick or Treated (x3); Attended MOPS; Changed a million more diapers; Made freezer meals; Celebrated our anniversary; Sewed a quilt; Went to a flea market; Started (the most informal) piano lessons; Settled arguments; Mandated time-outs; Used the rowing machine; Hosted out of town guests; Worked out a budget; Overspent our budget; Finished my pregnancy journal; Made art for the house; Dedicated Miller;  Napped; Watched bootlegged movies; Bought all the Halloween costumes; Decorated two bedrooms; Dressed like pirates; Saw a high school play; Went to a concert; Partied with the worship team; Got out the newborn onesies; Packed away the newborn onesies; Smelled a sweet baby head...over and over again; Kissed boo-boos; Went to a preschool birthday party; Attended a wedding; Rode festival rides, played festival games, ate festival food; Discovered my MBTI (it's ENTJ if you're interested); Rode the carousel 5 consecutive times at our company party; Did I mention changed diapers?; Rode ponies; Enjoyed family dinner night; Watched DVR'ed TV; Drank pumpkin beer; Cleaned out the garage; Saw a super moon; Cleaned out toe fuzzies; Ate ice cream; Took a zillion pictures; Painted nails; Pushed swings; Bought (and returned) things I don't need at Target; Wrote thank you notes; Had a family photoshoot; Sent birth announcements; Got new contact lenses; Set our clocks back; Listened to (half of) an audio book; Square danced; Colored so many pictures; Argued; Made up; Drafted a truly terrible fantasy football team; Survived a cold; Changed some (more) diapers; And about a million, billion other things...
We did the newborn things, the toddler things, the preschool things, the married things, the church things, the holiday things, the family things, the stay-at-home-mom things; the Summer things, the Fall things. We packed a whole lot into those twelve weeks- some of it monumental, but most of it not. There were incredibly fun outings, and deliciously slow days. There were frustrating moments, and exhausting nights. There were things I'd never do again but then they'd always seemed right (Just kidding...I started to slide into a Celine Dion song there...)

And after looking back on it all...I realize This Is It. Not in an it's oveeeeerrrrrrrrr type of way. No. I mean, This: this endless list of tasks and activities and duties and blessings...This is IT. What it's all about. What matters. At times I tend to think that life is measured or evaluated by the big moments, by the sweeping changes by the epic narratives. But really it's this minutia that adds up to a life (this is where the RENT soundtrack starts to play...In daylights, in sunsets, In midnights, in cups of coffee...) Maternity leave is twelve weeks of caring for a miniature human. It might be 90% dealing with bodily fluids, 8% propping your eyelids open and 2% soaking up life changing smiles, but in the end, being a mom to a newborn is entirely regular stuff, that is somehow transformed into something spectacular when looked at as a whole. Each day was just a day, filled with messes and tears, and successes and laughs...but after twelve weeks, those teeny snippets have knit themselves into something bigger; Something I couldn't be more grateful for. And that's what I'll try to remember as I grow weary of the mundane tasks of motherhood, and feel tempted to fast forward through the worst parts of each stage.... This. All of this. Is it. And oh how wonderful it is.

Photo credit: Shutter & Glass Photography
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