I find myself feeling the ways I swore to myself I never would.
As the costumes begin to lose their appeal on Halloween, the embarrassment of ones parents begins to crouch in like a slow rolling fog, I feel it; I feel loss.
It seems unfair that I haven’t enjoyed my children in full appreciation on so many occasions; that the endearment and cherishing have come only long after the moment has long since passed. There is a deep ache in looking back for me. I remember the baby cheeks, the giggles, the tiny hands in mine, but I also feel unbelievably removed from that place I once stood.
I open the window to the past and I see the mother I was: tired, empty, frazzled. I see all of the space the well-meaning women in aisle ten said I should hold on to but I just couldn’t then. I see how naive I was to wish for eighteen to come so I could return to freedom and my husband.
Immediately I feel my jaw tighten, my nose sting and the lump in my throat. I can’t have windows here. I need doors. I need a three minute window opened to a lyrically sappy song that allows me to peek back, to feel, and then a swift, fast slamming of a solid piece of wood — what’s done is done; I am here now.
Doors are not new to me. I prefer them. I prefer what they keep out and that I don’t have to open them if I don’t want to. Windows are too much. They are a barrier and yet they let me see and know exactly what I have missed, what I am currently missing. No, I prefer a door - case closed, chapter over, moving on, the end.
No one has to tell me that this is a maladaptive coping mechanism. I am deeply aware.
I don’t want to analyze where it comes from, why it is there, or wish it away.
Perhaps my doors are unforgiveness, maybe they are hurt, but it is all just too deep to ponder when there is already enough depth for me to swim in long past the lifetime set before me.
Costumes. Baby pictures from ten, nine, eight years ago, they have done this. They are today’s window that I wish so desperately I could stare at fondly then praise the vision of the young man before me today. Instead, I find my door, with flailing hands I grasp for the handle and slam it shut. Catching my breath, I put my back to the door, bend my knees and slowly slump down. I pray my weight will be the doorstop - it cannot swing open if I stay there.
This was not the mother I said I would be.
I declared I would be in the moment I was in and get to the finish line. It is only now that I see the harsh reality — motherhood has no finish line. I am assigned to a lifetime of looking back, standing in the present, wishing for yesteryear and praying for tomorrow all at once, all the time.
Doors and windows. Windows and doors. This road of motherhood is the very heartbeat and heartbreak of me.