By Emily Kelly
Life with Two
I’m so happy that Bre asked if I’d like to contribute to this series; when you have two little kids two and under, it’s hard to force your brain to think elegantly or coherently after the hours of eight pm. But I’m always glad when I do because I end up learning something about myself. And if we’re not growing, we going backwards, am I right?
I’ve always been the sort of person who dreams up a million dreams and thinks I’m going to conquer demons and cure diseases… a really Type A envisionist-type but not at all a type A in execution; if you know what I mean.
For example, while going through a box of memories stuffed in the closet of my childhood bedroom at home, I unearthed this project from grade 9 where we had to map out our life. Along the timeline I had a couple accolades such as “Wins Nobel Peace Prize” and “Writes a Novel” – all before the age of 30.
Insert rolling on the floor laughing here.
You see, I’ve never had a problem dreaming big; but I’ve also never really felt what you might call “settled.” I went through public school with a few good friends here and there but was never at the centre of those pre-teen parties. Always hanging around the periphery never really feeling like I fit in, I managed to slide by on buying some of the right clothes and not having bad acne, I suppose.
And high school was good don’t get me wrong, it just wasn’t great. It kinda flew by, much like all the phases of my life, but more likely because I still felt this anticipation of all this great stuff to come that has always been promised to me (was it that way where you grew up too? I think it’s part of our generation: “Be all you can be! Be famous! Be rich! Be successful! Don’t let anyone stop you for anything!”)
And college was…better. It was more fulfilling because I remember for the first time in my life feeling like I was really “doing it”; whatever that means. I guess I felt like a kid on a brochure for higher education: books in arm, learning things while I sat around on a green with friends talking about stuff that we all were collectively passionate about.
But it still wasn’t me.
And what does this have to do with life with two?
I guess I’m just beginning only now, at 33 to know what it feels like to have “arrived.” And I know maybe you’re here thinking I’ll be talking about the struggle I’ve had, losing myself to motherhood – up to my elbows in diapers and tantrums (<—— all extremely accurate by the way) but for me, it’s been much the opposite. I feel a restlessness inside me that has subsided. (Please don’t groan audibly yet, I promise I’m [trying to] going somewhere with this).
Today, sitting with my four-month-old on my lap on the rug in my living room, surrounded by those Fisher Price Little People and Brio train parts, my two year-old asked for the umpteen millionth time, “someone’s at the door! answer the door mama.” to her Calico Critter Cozy Cottage. (She had really gotten it in her head that it was the most hilarious thing in life). And I thought this was the most special, cutest thing ever. You I’m sure, think it’s probably just OK, but that moment was golden. It was mine and I was at peace today amidst the chaos that is my life right now.
I guess part of me wishes someone had told me earlier: being a mom can be the best thing ever. And maybe you’ll want to be ambitious and do all sorts of things that will earn you brass plates. But maybe you won’t. And that’s ok too. Because the ernest truth is this: I don’t know if the 14-year-old in me wrote down : “Earn Nobel Peace Prize” because I actually wanted to devote my life to that particular cause. I think there are pieces of me inside that would love to do something to leave a bigger mark on this world (outside of raising good humans) and I hope I still find my way to that pursuit some day in my own timing, but I honestly don’t know if I would have been “happy” pursuing that particular life. I think I thought it would make me happy – to be really dedicated to a cause. But the honest truth is, this is my cause. And life can be accomplished even when it’s so very not. You can pursue all those things and be happy or you can also just be happy in your own home. And there ain’t no shame in that.
Since we added our new little one to the world last May, I’ve been tired and in the trenches, and I’ve come to realize that motherhood is just this slow unravelling of beginning to let them go, bit by bit, little by little. First you are attached by creation, then you are attached as you feed and nurture them, then you can’t leave the room because they’ll roll, or move or get into something; then you drop them off for nursery school, put them on the bus to kindgergarden, send them off to camp, to high school, college, and ya, maybe we’re far from that right now in our house, but slowly, little by little I’m sending them off into the world; this stored-potential of a reaction that is setting off all these other events from now until when they grow and age and leave the planet in their own time. With their own wake of dust in their tracks.
So for now my peace is just sitting in the dust they stir up on the daily. I know it sounds idyllic,and trust me there are days I go into the basement and slam the door and scream in frustration (<— also sadly very true). But for now I’m here. And this, these two, they are my arrival.