Life is a strange thing. It is all about adjusting, and adapting to things. Feeling changes, and then having those changes become the norm. As humans we are exceptional at forgetting, probably due to our amazing ability to adapt.
I have distant memories, nostalgia even, of having our children. Of being sleep deprived, and what it felt like to attempt to get out of the house. I can visualize the back of my truck filled with diaper bags, strollers, baby toys and all the stuff that accompanies an infant.
But I can’t really remember what it felt like anymore. I recall being so very, very tired, but can’t grasp on to the exact specifics of what that meant. These experiences are like shadows now, as I try to put myself back in the moment, they disappear, leaving me with only a glimpse of my past experience.
These days, sleep “deprived” is when we all stay up late watching a movie and the kids are grouchy in the morning. Or those nights when we only get 8hrs because the rooster woke us up early.
But there are moments when the clarity is perfect. When we can remember an exact moment, with all the smells, the feelings and the frustrations (or joys) that it brought.
Our past month has been challenging, and I have complained frequently about how much my kids are fighting, and how I am failing at balancing all the things this summer. I have oodles of blog posts in my drafts folder that are just pages of rants, frustrations and disappointments. My husband and I have struggled to enjoy our children this summer, and we needed something to get us all back on track.
We took the weekend to turn off phones and be present. We explored on our little sailboat 3 days in a row, finding epic beaches, and spending 100% of our time together as a family.
Sure, there were moments. Siblings argue, and whine, and little brothers become annoying (just like big sisters become bossy), but we kept our ship sailing and found the pleasure in our family.
It was as we were coming into dock on the final day that we were brought back and reminded how much things have changed.
3 years ago we would bring our boat into harbour amidst crying toddlers, and tired, grouchy kids. We would have PILES of stuff, and after wrangling 3 kids on a sailboat for the day, be at our max point of exhaustion. There would be sunburns, and hungry bellies, and we would be rushing to get everyone home for bedtime.
This weekend, as we puttered into our dock, we had 2 kids reading, and one sitting chatting with us about the day. The boat was at peace, and we had no anxiety that the screams of our child would wake the entire harbour. The kids helped us tie up the boat, and haul the gear (mostly books and drinks) and everyone was mature enough to pitch in.
It was no longer us making an event happen FOR our children. It was our children contributing to make an event happen for the family. They helped pack our picnic (which they realized early on means that they get what they like in there) and they helped stow the towels and beach toys. They spent the day playing (together), reading, eating, snoozing and adapting to the day.
Hubby and I spent the day watching, playing and enjoying this moment of peace in our family, and while this day too will become just a memory, and it’s full impact will be lost, hopefully we will retain some tiny moment from it. I know that over time we will adjust to this level of independence in our children, and find something new to worry or complain about. Hopefully though, we will be given glimpses of these moments so we can realign ourselves and be reminded that yes, things do get easier.
Yes, we humans adjust and adapt, always looking for holes in our peacefulness. Always bringing on MORE, and then becoming frustrated because we can’t manage it. I suppose all we can hope for is this small reminders that put us in our place, and refocus our attention on how much we do do, and how much we have grown, so that every now and then, we can step back and appreciate our journey.
I may not remember sleep deprivation, but somewhere in me my body learned from it. It learned how to carry heavy loads, how to survive through parenting 3 young children. It learned its boundaries, and its limits and I imagine, it will keep doing so for the rest of my life.
At least, I can only hope it will.