We’re in New York City right now.
We’re here because a certain little girl fell in love with an image of a tall, green lady wearing a crown that she saw somewhere in a book or heard about along the way at school. She had to see her and I say it’s never to early to start making the list of things you want to do and see in your life… or to start crossing them off.
We’re here now because of poor planning. Because we planned this week as our week for a summer vacation and then we didn’t plan another thing until it was too late to snag a spot at the beach.
And of all of our family trips, it’s been a rough one because of bad timing. Because earlier this week I spent one night in a hotel room and one on a plane. And although I like to think that I’m still 20 (or younger) and that I can run around in a brand new city for a day, take the red-eye back, and barrel into my normal life mothering two small children and attacking work with all the vim and vigor with which work needs to be attacked and do it all without breaking a sweat or shedding a tear, the absolute honest truth is that I can’t.
The hardest part of parenting right now, for me, is not that we’re carting two small kids around one of the biggest, most intimidating, hardest cities. It’s not that we’re out of our comfort zone, eating out regularly at places that have neither kids menus nor changing tables in the bathrooms with kids who need to eat and who, well, need new diapers when they need them. It’s not that we’re staying at a hotel so the sleeping arrangements are haphazard at best and often find all of us piled into (aka jumping on) the one bed before 6am.
It’s that I am human. They are too. And sometimes our humanity collides.
Sometimes it’s hard to be a mom purely because I’m human. Because I may be a supermom but I am not super human. I fall victim to fatigue and exhaustion and there are some days I just can’t push on through because I don’t have the strength. And those moments have no chance but to collide with the moments that find them unable to take another step on tiny little feet supported by tiny little legs. And when it comes right down to it, they cause far less of a scene when they break down into exhausted tears in the middle of a New York City street than I do.
Sometimes it’s hard to be a mom purely because I’m a mom. Because when I welcomed these two little people into the world, my heart broke wide open. And it’s never closed. You can’t sew up a mama’s heart. It’s wide open and exposed from the moment life stirs within. And that makes everything more beautiful, yes, but also more painful. It makes every decision bigger, every choice heavier, every regret more stifling. It makes it so much more likely that every thought that enters my brain finds itself carried on a stream of emotion right to my heart where it burrows and has every potential to make a real mess of things.
It means that every moment I spend away, taking a break and doing what I need to do as a human, pricks painfully at my soul. And it means that every moment I spend with them, too tired or emotional or distracted to breathe in their wonder of the world, eats me up from within.
And when I’m sitting there, being eaten up from within and feeling the weight of life, our lives, on my heart, and she cries about wearing sneakers instead of flip flops or he cries because I’m committing the truly horrible crime of strapping him into his stroller, our humanity collides.
Over the past few days, in this gigantic city where humanity colliding is a regular occurrence, we’ve just become part of the sea of it all. We’ve fit right in as if we belong here all the time. We’ve bumped into one another, felt the gritty pain of just living life, in a city known for its grit.
This has been a rough trip for our family. We’ve, of course, had our good moments. Jumping off benches in the curious garden (aka the high line), coloring outside the museum of natural history, and the moment she first saw lady liberty. Even the best vacations come with a few tears and so the reverse is true as well. We’ve laughed and smiled and lived in a few moments that we won’t soon forget. But it’s been tougher than I wanted it to be.
And as we pack up and ready ourselves for the very long ride home, I’ve sort of come around to believe it was meant to be this way. That this is where the exhaustion and big decisions and weight of August which tends to be so heavy for us anyway with summer ending and school beginning and big birthdays right around the corner, this is where it was all meant to meet. So that we could do it all here and then just leave it here. So we can go home, unpack, and turn a fresh page.