Taking Turns

There is that feeling. The one that sneaks up. The feeling of being left behind.

Today, Jared's out at a professional conference for the field that we share. Today, I am at home with a sick child.

Last night, Beren was up past midnight with an earache. He threw up, too. His head hurt, and he begged me to help him. It was wrenching.

Last night, Jared was out with friends. If this sounds bitter, it shouldn't. I go out with friends. Time away is especially important during exhausting times, so long as each one of takes turns. We do. We parent equally, sometimes excessively so.

The night before, Beren was up until 2AM. Beren cried piteously. Every time he lay down, he could breathe. We all lay together. I was twitching. Of course, no one could sleep. I have sometimes wished that Jared would sleep on the couch, so he could be fresh in the morning and able to take on a heavier load the next day. 

Eventually, I took Beren downstairs. We sat on the couch, reading and snacking until we fell asleep. Though bed was more comfortable, we all needed a change of pace.

This morning, I practiced kung fu in the field while Jared went to the conference. It was cold. I washed and hung out our laundry because the next few days will be rainy. I like washing and hanging laundry. I like homemaking. I generally do not like conferences, though I do like the social part. I wish I could surrender. I wish I could sneak away from that sneaky feeling.

I used to look at Jared and wonder how he could accomplish so much. Wonder is truly the right word. I was filled with wonder. How could this be possible? How could he do so much? I pondered if I needed to be better at managing time. Perhaps more inputs, more inspiration? A regular massage? To do lists prioritizing 'me'? Who is that person anyway?

One of the truths of it - mothering is transformative. Overnight metamorphosis that means: Sink or swim, baby. I mean, sink or swim, momma and baby.

I am a completely different person now. Not just my priorities, but also my body, my hormones, my heart. I have to repeat this to myself, just to believe it, though it seems I have lived it long enough to have settled in.

Yet, the world around me just goes on. There are conferences, meetings, consulting jobs, and a child, a home, a husband, a self.

My husband gets it. This summer, he stopped me in the kitchen and told me about how he gets it. How he finally understands what I meant when I used to say I felt as though I was being left behind. He hadn't been able to hear it then, he told me. He had so appreciated our egalitarian relationship that he couldn't hear it then. That he would have gladly taken half of the parenting on, but that's not really how it goes with mothers and fathers. Mothers do more, it is just the way it is, most of the time anyway.

This conversation in the kitchen was so meaningful to me. It set sad and sour feelings free. I wish I could say more, but I hear a sick child had arisen from slumber.