I watch my son pick a dandelion from the front yard by the birch tree. I know what he is going to do next. He can’t resist. It’s in his nature to stir the stillness. Without hesitation, he lifts the dandelion seed head to his mouth and casually blows on the white, feathery seeds. The bristles float in all directions, covering several feet of grass as they land. My husband can’t stand this. He knows that this will only multiply the dandelions in our lawn –making it look exceptionally flawed in comparison to our neighbor’s perfectly manicured emerald carpet. But there is something beautiful, almost magical, in watching a child unknowingly propel new life into the air with a simple breath. And although my son is not one to make wishes on the seeds that he sends into the air, I certainly am.
Twenty months. For the past 20 months I have started and ended every single day with the same wish. I wish to have time to write. I wish to have time to work at my laptop writing in the morning, drinking a hot cup of coffee before everyone wakes. I wish I could ignore the daily household chores while the baby naps and take that time to write outside on the front step with a pen and notebook. I wish I still had energy left in my body and soul at the end of each long day to spend a couple hours drafting the essays that I write in my head while doing dishes, folding laundry, and playing with my children.
Time. There just never seems to be enough time in a day. There is always something else that could have been completed, or started. But time sets limits to what we can do, and many days, all I can see are my limits. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Shower, watch children, and go to work. Laundry, dishes, and cleaning. Emails, bills, and appointments. Planning, planning, and planning. These items are all priorities. My family needs to be fed. Our bills need to be paid. We need to take care of our house. The list goes on, so I continue to tackle “the list.” But the list does go on, and it always will.
I’ve spent the past 20 months making every excuse not to write, and my biggest excuse is time. There are so many priorities in life, especially when you are raising a family. Your first priority is supporting your family with their basic needs. That in itself is a huge task that entails making money, operating a household, and giving your love and attention to each family member’s beautiful soul. And as a mother, I often lose sight of other priorities that need my attention too. I look at my day and plan out everything that I need to do in order to take care of my family, but I forget to do the same for myself. And even though I am in the thick of motherhood, I am human, and I need to allow myself to make my needs a priority too. But how do I find or make the time to do this?
Time. There will never be enough time. There will never be enough time with my kids. There will never be enough time to work on the house or garden. There will never be enough time on this earth. Time places limits; it’s a form of measurement that fills our days. And many days, all I notice is the time. Is it time to wake up? Is it time to leave the house? Is it time for lunch? Is it time for the baby to take a nap? How much time do I have while she naps to accomplish all of the items on my to-do list? Is it time for my husband to get home from work? Is it time to get the kids ready for their evening activities? Is it time for the kids to go to bed? How much time do I have left before I should be going to bed? What time do I need to set my alarm for?
There will never be enough time to write, especially if I continue to measure my days by looking at the time in this way.
My son picks another dandelion, this time near the row of hostas leading to the backyard. And I know what he is going to do next. I’ve witnessed it countless times this summer, and countless times the summer before. I pick a dandelion, too. We breathe in, exhale, and release the dandelions’ seeds into the air. They float for a few seconds before landing in the grass. Over time, dozens of more dandelions will be waiting to be picked next. They will be waiting to be chosen, to be given life with a new breath of air. And the words will float and fall onto the page all in their own time.
How to find courage, strength and happiness in 24 simple ways.
Hi. I’m Aimee. I’m almost 30.
I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a writer. I am a dreamer.
Twenty-four months ago I would not have introduced myself in this way. Twenty-four months ago I wrote this. I was scared. I felt like a failure. I was lost. Twenty-four months ago I chose to quit my full-time job. Well, at the time I felt like I was a quitter. I felt weak. I was disappointed in myself for not being able to suck it up. So I started this blog to pick myself up. I started this blog to put myself back together. Twenty-four months later, I now see that leaving my full-time job had given me the opportunity to fight to become a stronger woman. I am braver. I am accomplishing goals that were once long-forgotten. I am proud of myself. Damn, I’m proud of myself.
Twenty-four months. In twenty-four months I went from working about 50 hours a week to working about 9 hours a week. My oldest child is months away from starting kindergarten, my daughter will be turning four in one month, and I am 22 weeks pregnant with our third child. In twenty-four months my husband changed jobs and completed four more semesters of grad school. We sold our first home and purchased and moved into our second –maybe forever—home. In twenty-four months I went from no blog to publishing 62 posts and having 3 (and soon one more!) posts published by other websites. I have met some amazing local bloggers, and I recently joined a writing group. In twenty-four months I went from feeling lost to feeling more alive than ever.
Leaving my full-time job was the craziest thing I have ever done, and it has brought me back to life. These past 24 months I have been slowly putting myself back together. I have been learning more about who I am and what I want and who I want to be when I grow up. I am learning. And I will spend the rest of my life learning.
Before sitting down to write this, I took a couple of weeks to reflect on everything that has happened these past two years. I could share with you how my life has changed since becoming a stay-at-home mother. I could share with you how I survive a typical day at home with my spirited 5-year-old son and my strong-willed 3-year-old daughter while my husband is at work from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. (is he home yet?!?!?!). I could share with you how I have been trying to make more time for my writing goals and making new friends. Yes, much has happened in my life these past two years, and many things have changed for the better for my little family. But I am more than a stay-at-home mother. I am more than a part-time receptionist at a hair salon. I am more than a wife. I am more than a blogger. I am growing. Well, literally, my belly is growing to make room for this sweet little girl who is growing inside of me. But I am growing. I am learning to take care of myself. I am learning to take pride in what I do as a caregiver, an employee, a partner, a friend and a writer. I am learning to make my goals higher priorities in my life. I am learning to put myself first, too. These past 24 months I have given so much of my love and attention and care to my family and others around me, but I have also been learning to do this for myself as well. While much has changed around me, I have changed the most.
After taking some time to reflect on the past 24 months and the two-year anniversary of this blog, I decided to share with you what I have learned about myself and becoming a braver and happier person since quitting my full-time job and starting this new adventure. I still have much to learn and there is always room to grow, but these 24 lessons have given me back my strength and happiness and my ability to dream:
I have learned how to breathe. I have learned how to open my eyes. I have learned how to grasp the world with my finger. And like my two children who seize each day with passion in their hearts and limited concepts of barriers, I can’t wait to see our baby girl do the same when she is born. I can’t wait to feel her hand grasp my finger, and I will show her the world is hers to hold.
I take a sip of my Corona Light and let my body sink into the patio chair. I breathe in the muggy July air and cool my forehead with my beer bottle.
Solitude. I’ve desired this very moment of being alone, yet the need to take care of someone else never ceases to tug at me. My almost three-year-old daughter is napping in the cabin while the rest of my family is fishing off of the dock down at the lake. I’m surrounded by trees and blue sky. Acres of woods and the cabin door separate me from everyone. I try to shut down, but I also know that I will have to be on at any moment’s notice. This is good enough for me.
Silence. Everything is still around me, yet I anticipate the initial cries of a waking toddler or the shouts of my four-year-old son as he runs back up to the cabin to say that he is done fishing. The air is still and all I hear are the chirping of birds and the buzzing of flies. I listen to the melody of the woods and tiny creatures around me, all while keeping an ear out for a familiar voice. This is good enough for me.
Peacefulness. This moment is so few and far between, but it is good enough for me.
I take another sip of my cold beer and embrace the solitude, silence and peacefulness as I sit on the deck. It’s time for me to accept this moment. This stillness lingers longer as each minute passes, and I need to learn to acknowledge this truth. The truth is my body will no longer nourish another being. The truth is my children choose to flee my arms more than they choose to be carried. The truth is my children are closer to being ready to have their own adventures. I need to acknowledge the stillness, because this stillness is beginning to fill more moments in my day.
It’s not that I’m afraid of this type of solitude, silence and peacefulness; I simply wonder whether all of this will fill more minutes and hours of my day before it’s supposed to. My heart is so very full, but it still aches for someone else to fill these moments and space before me. My husband and I have discussed this aching in my heart, and every time this comes up in conversation, the ache becomes more of a sting. We are lucky. So very lucky we are. My husband is logical and explains that we have already replaced ourselves. We have a son and a daughter, and when we die, they are the two beings to take our place on Earth. We are past the stage of late nights, early mornings, breastfeeding, diapering and potty-training. We can move on and begin to enjoy new activities as a family. We can save more money for our future and our children’s futures. We can move on to the next stage and be a few years closer to having more time to pursue our personal goals. This is all very logical and responsible –but it stings.
My people are my family, and I feel that my family is not yet complete. I am full, but are we complete?
Yes, I miss the newborn scent and the quiet and still cuddles. But it’s more than that. It’s looking into the future and seeing that someone may be missing. It’s holding each other’s wrinkled hands and wondering what life would be like with a few more grandchildren. It’s knowing that there is another human being we could meet –another human being who has the power to turn our lives upside down and around with a love so great we could have never imagined living without his or her presence. I do not fear solitude, silence and peacefulness. I simply want to meet this person with every fiber of my being.
But I’m learning to let go. I may never let go completely. I’m learning to live with the sting. I’m learning to acknowledge that the stillness will come sooner than I’m ready for it to. I’m learning that there is peace in stillness. This life is good. This marriage is good. This family of mine is good. It is all so very good enough for me.
And, in a moment, the stillness is gone. I take another sip of beer as I watch my husband walk up the steps from the dock, making his way toward me. He grabs a beer from the cooler and sits next to me. We cling beer bottles and sip our Corona Light in silence, acknowledging this rare moment alone while our daughter naps and our son continues to fish with his grandparents.
After a few minutes, my husband breaks the silence and asks, “What would you name our third child?”
A lump forms in my throat and I immediately feel tears welling up in my eyes. I’m angry and heartbroken. “You can’t ask me that,” I snap. How could he ask me this? For three years he’s been content with having two children. For three years I’ve been learning to be content with having only two children. For three years I’ve been trying to ignore the lingering sting, and now this question makes me ache more than ever before.
“I mean it,” my husband says. “I want to know what you would like to name our third child.”
The lump dissolves.
The sting disappears.
I am full.
I am empty.
Another month goes by and my body is empty. The leaves fell weeks ago and the once lush grass in our backyard is now covered in a hard layer of snow.
“What am I missing?” I ask my husband. “Do I not know how to count correctly?”
“Maybe it will happen for us, and maybe it won’t,” he says. “All we can do is keep trying.”
This is not what I want to hear. It makes so much sense, but I never considered the possibility that another pregnancy may not happen. I’m impatient. I thought I would be through my first trimester by now. I thought we would get pregnant as quickly as we did with our other two children. I’m frustrated. I know other couples have waited so much longer and are still waiting, but the disappointment each passing month brings continues to build. I’m heartbroken. I’m upset with myself for being heartbroken when I already have two beautiful children. I’m upset with myself for being so selfish when other women have had to experience this disappointment, frustration and heartbreak for years. I’m full, but I’m empty.
I wonder if my body is broken. I wonder if this is a sign that God has already given me more than I can handle. I wonder if this means that I am supposed to move on. I wonder if this means that I will never meet you.
“Am I a good mom?” I ask my husband. “Maybe this means I’m not a good enough mom.”
“You’re a great mom,” my husband assures me. “Don’t punish yourself for this. Be patient. Give it time. Don’t think about it so much.”
I try to be logical. I try to set my emotions aside. But I can’t stop looking up names for you. I can’t stop researching ways to conceive you. I can’t stop looking at clothes that I could dress you in. I can’t stop thinking about you. Will we ever meet?
I tell myself to stop looking at the calendar. I tell myself to stay positive. I tell myself not to be too hopeful. I stop peeing on sticks.
I pee on a stick.
I thank God.
Our family can’t wait to meet you and welcome you into this world. Your heartbeat is strong. You are about the size of an orange now. You are a part of us, and we are a part of you. I see a future filled with my people, and I’m so happy to see you there too. I’ve been wanting to meet you for so long. I’ve been thinking about you for years.
I have my three oranges, and I feel so full now.