Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Past/The Future

Lately, as I sit in the hallway outside the nursery door at night doing the bedtime vigil, waiting for Genevieve to fall asleep so I can leave the cracked-open doorway and get on with my off-duty mama life, I've been reading the archives of my favorite mommy-blog, Friday Playdate. I've read Susan's stuff for years now, but not from her very first post; I can't recall when it was that I first discovered her site--maybe in 2006 sometime? But the other day I arbitrarily clicked on her entries from four years ago, trying to find something new to read during my endless hallway night-watch, and it has all got me thinking.

You see, Susan has children exactly four years older than mine; her older son, Henry, even shares my older daughter's birthday, only he just turned nine when Julia turned five. And Susan's younger son Charlie's birthday was last week--almost exactly a month before Genevieve's--only he just turned seven, whereas Vivi will turn three in a few weeks. It seems uncanny to me that I randomly clicked on some Friday Playdate entries from four years ago, only to find myself immersed in the then-Susan living my current life (only with boys, not girls). And still every day I read Susan's real-time Friday Playdate entries, and here she is four years later, with her nine- and seven-year-olds. Just how my life will be in four more years. The mind boggles. Or maybe yours doesn't. But mine surely does.

Because, you see, it's like a voice from the future, from my OWN future, telling me things will get easier, things will work out, I won't always and forever be sitting on the floor near Vivi's crib so she won't cry at night, I won't eternally be carrying and holding preschoolers in the swimming pool so they won't cry or drown. They'll actually be able to PLAY IN THE POOL BY THEMSELVES WHILE I READ A MAGAZINE FROM A DECK CHAIR. Yes, yes they will. I know this, because Susan told me so.

It's enormously comforting, and also bittersweet, to have the ability to go back and read someone's mothering journal from when her daily stay-at-home-mom life was very much like mine is now--I know it's true, because her kids were the exact ages mine are today--but then also have the fast-forward flash of seeing how mamahood changes in four years' time. In the archives from spring and summer 2005, Susan talks about how harried and tired and frazzled she feels and how crazy-busy her days are. She says she knows she has a great, lucky life--just like I know I have one too--and yet despite her best efforts to be all zen-and-gratitude about her lucky, stay-at-home-mom life, she's still overwhelmed by housework and always exhausted and super-thin ("and not in a good way") and up to her ears in the repetitive drudgery of making snack and wiping bottoms and picking up toys (I'm paraphrasing here). And how she lies awake at night worrying about what will happen when she goes back to work, and what she'll even DO for work. (When you find the answer, let me know, please.) And how she really wants to appreciate every single sweet moment of parenting babies and toddler in this lucky, blessed life--but the truth of it is, half the time she's cranky and frazzled and letting the children watch PBS to get a break from their nonstop needs and then feeling guilty about it. And on and on it goes.

The thing is, Susan of four years ago is describing my life now, and for the past several years. Reading those words is like meeting an old friend anew. Or meeting a new friend but feeling as if you've known her forever. I recognize myself in the 2005 Susan--I swear to God, what keeps me thin is the Having-No-Help-With-the-Children-Ever-Ever-Ever Diet; it's very stressful!--and it's always comforting to hear someone else speak your own truth. The added bonus is that I know--as well as anyone can know someone via a blog--that Susan is just fine. Her boys are four years older; she finds great joy in their big-boy-ness. She assures me there are wonderful things about bigger kids, and that's nice to hear, and see. Apparently things change; certain things get easier. Children become less needy.

The Internet is a wonderful thing sometimes.


latisha said...

oh! this is what's social about it. community is community no matter where we find it and the one thing besides love none of us can live without.

great post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I'm going straight there. I'm also on the Having-No-Help-With-the-Children-Ever-Ever-Ever Diet (but doesn't always keep me thin, unfortunately). My boys are 3 and 1. And thanks to you, I'm also on day 4 of te 30 day shred! Love it.

Shan said...

To Christopher--Don't you think so? Plus it burns a lot of calories. I think my metabolism would be a lot slower if I had in-laws who took my kids one day a week like some moms I know, or parents who lived in town and gave us a date night every other week like even more moms I know. Doesn't that sound more relaxing than our current never-stop life?

Shan said...

p.s. I am loving the fact that I have sucked so many people into the 30 Day Shred! :)

Susan said...

Oh, thank you so much! You're too kind.

When my kids were the ages yours are now, a friend said to me, "It will get easier. I promise." And I rolled my eyes and thought, "Okay crazy lady, whatever." But she was right.

Not that parenting is ever easy; it's just not as physically demanding. And for me, that's a huge change and a welcome one, too.

Although now I'm having to do the damn 30 Day Shred to stay thin. Tradeoffs, I guess. ;)