This post is from Kristen McConnell over at Soft Science Notes. Here’s more about Kristen:
I’m a nurse and a mother who has recently started a new chapter. After living with my parents for a few years as a single mother working full-time in an ICU, I recently got married and moved with my daughter to Brooklyn to live with my husband. Right now I’m spending most of my time trying to learn in earnest how to be a homemaker and a wife, and taking care of my daughter who is 5 and has special needs, including severe apraxia of speech.
A couple days ago as I crawled searchingly through the mountain of mail that grows in a corner of my apartment I came across a Christmas card from a friend of my husband’s that I hadn’t seen. This friend (old, wise, childless) had written that after the exciting changes my husband and I encountered in 2013 (we got married, moved in together for the first time, and he became a stepfather to my daughter) he hoped 2014 would be a year of settled relaxation and bliss for us.
I simultaneously scoffed, chortled, and rolled my eyes — yeah, right! — before pausing to appreciate the kind sentiment and consider its possibility. Settled relaxation and bliss. The words stayed in the front of my mind, along with a few more that have recently left an impression…
I overheard one woman say to another, leaving the McDonald’s on the corner of my block, “I do what I’m supposed to do as a parent. You got a roof, you got food. The extras is just that: extras.” This time I sneered a snobby sneer before realizing that her words required me to do some reflecting. I’m a nurse but I’m taking a break from working: I am a novice at the all mommy, all the time lifestyle of a stay-at-home mother, and I won’t do it for long enough to stop being a novice.
My wardrobe (standard order mommy hoodie with yogurt smears and pockets filled with dirty tissues), inbox (kindergarten update! special needs group update! speech therapy bill!), and brain are completely dominated by the lovely young person in my life. I’m slightly surprised at how quickly caring for her has pushed other concerns and interests to the outskirts of my brain, and I think I may need to put some effort into hanging onto them before they vanish altogether.
And, as I rapidly close in on the 30 year mark, I keep thinking about sitting with my ex-boyfriend, during college, on his parent’s back porch, talking with his sister who had recently turned 30. She was in a sharing state of mind, and she told us: “30 FUCKING ROCKS.” She explained that one’s twenties are a time of stressing out, not knowing what’s going on, not having your shit together. At 30, all of that magically falls away and you emerge as an adult who knows what’s up and how to deal.
This is another head scratcher. I don’t know if a sense of settled constancy, of having arrived, is something I’ll achieve soon, or ever. But I remember that when I was younger I wanted most of all to be someone who did a lot of different things in life, and I seem to be doing alright on that. I know how lucky I am. Perhaps I’ll relax into the bliss of of knowing that next year will be different, and the year after that, too.