I’m going to be honest: At the moment, I’m a bit of a hot mess. There are at least three major contributors to my current demise that I know of.
1: My face and neck are currently spotted with poison oak.
When I say “spotted”, I mean literally spotted. I’m not sure if I look more like a gargoyle or a leopard. What started as a small bit of poison oak near my eye, has spread to my whole face and neck. I’m not sure if you are familiar with this particular kind of hell, but if you are, you’re well aware of the misery I’m in. We went camping this weekend and while the kids brought home little souvenirs that they collected, Husband and I brought home poison oak. We can only assume that Scouty is the culprit- as we both know what this dreadful plant looks like (“Leaves of three, let it be!”) and are smart enough to steer clear of it. The dear, dumb puppy on the other hand, had himself a party and rolled the stuff.
Unaware of his shenanigans, we both just so happened to give him a little snuggle on our way to bed, and then we also just so happened to give each other a little snuggle after we got in bed (if I could wink right now, I would. But my eyes are swollen so I’ll settle for an “ifyaknowwhatImean” elbow nudge). Suffice it to say, we both woke up the next morning with poison oak in a number of inconvenient places. The least of which happens to be our eyelids. I am not even going to begin to try to explain this. Assume what you will. (Again, if I could wink, I would.)
I am beginning to feel suspicious of my luck because every time I go on a trip, something bad happens to me the day I come home. I mean, I know Re-entry is hard, but this is some next-level stuff. Last weekend I went out-of-town with some friends, and the day I came home I fell down our slippery wooden stairs (not for the first time) and proceeded to bounce off of each step on the way down. It was bad. Falling as an adult, sucks. I have bruises all up the backside of my body. This weekend it was a poison oak outbreak. Next weekend the other Amber and I are flying down to LA and I’m not sure I’ll even come home at all, for fear of what will surely happen to me. At this rate, I’ll probably go permanently cross-eyed or my head will fall off or something…
2: I look like I’ve had really bad lip injections but it’s actually just stress.
For some reason over the last couple of years, this thing just started happening with my lips. Whenever I get really stressed out, my lips get all puffy and sore. Not in an attractive, “Oh what a nice, full pout you have,” kind-of-a-way, but more of a “Good God! What’s happening to your mouth?!” kind-of-a-way. I went to the doctor because I thought I was going crazy but he said it is, indeed, a thing.
For the most part it’s not a huge deal. My lips get a little puffy, it goes away after a few days, and I’m back to normal. It’s weird, but it’s actually helped me in terms of recognizing and managing my stress levels. But sometimes it just sneaks up on me out of nowhere.
Apparently I was a little more stressed out about my poison oak covered face than I thought because now I have a nice set of duck lips to complete my look. While I will admit to some level of vanity and embarrassment over the poison oak on my face, I think there’s more to it than that. I think I’m mostly stressed out because life has just fundamentally shifted and I’m not sure how to handle it.
My littlest kid- my tiny, chubby cheeked, curly haired, freckled little boy just graduated preschool. I can’t even deal.
3: Graduations give me the emotional sweats.
All graduations. For all people. I already told you guys about how I fell apart at my niece’s 8th grade graduation. That same niece is now graduating high school, by the way. So basically I feel like I am a hundred years old. I remember being 18 and thinking that people who were in their 30’s were straight up OLD. Now I am in my 30’s and I can’t help it- I think 18 year olds are so YOUNG.
Watching my niece graduate and getting choked up was one thing. Watching my own tiny tender march across the stage in his little blue cap and gown and shake his preschool teacher’s hand (and then proceed to join his classmates and sing nursery rhymes with coordinated dance moves) was quite another.
I lost it. I stood quietly at the back of the room, and went through a whole packet of tissues while I slowly unraveled.
My mom walked in, took one look at me, and said with a small level of alarm “Honey, why is your face so red?”.
“Because Mother! Because I am trying to stifle my sobs! Because it’s roughly 110 degrees in this stinky gymnasium! Because I am mourning the end of an era! Because graduations give me the emotional sweats! Okay?!”
I cried when my daughter graduated preschool. But this time is different. This is my last baby. And there is officially no baby left in him. It feels so much more final.
For the last 5 years since I quit working outside the home, my life has been filled with wiping noses and bums, kissing cheeks, and soaping up little pot bellies in the bathtub. It’s been a constant replay of buttoning shirts and tying shoes, giving snuggles, making lunches and snacks, filling sippy cups, and reading stories leisurely on the couch while drowsy little heads lean on my shoulder. It’s been filled with laughing, fretting, praying, teaching, training, and loving from a place deeper than I ever have before.
There were times in those early years when I felt like motherhood might swallow me whole; When all I knew was the minutia of the day. While I found joy in this season, it was hard to imagine a time when my kids would be somewhat self-sufficient, or when I’d have the time to invest in my other passions. And then I turned around and it was here.
It’s true what they say, ya know- that “The days are long and the years are short.”
Last week Bella needed help washing her hair because it was terribly tangled and as I leaned over the tub pouring water down her back, my heart caught in my throat and my eyes pooled with tears because I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d done this for her.
The subterranean shifts are so small and subtle that you almost don’t even notice them until one day it hits you all at once. Your littles are bigs.
I’m entering a whole new phase here, people! In September I will pack up two backpacks and two lunches and send both of my kids off for a full day of school. Every weekday. I’m not even going to lie. I’m excited about this. I literally don’t even know what I’ll do with myself. But part of me is excited to find out. The rest of me that is still mourning the loss of littlehood in our home. It’s a strange feeling for a mother.
Growing pains, I suppose.
May God have mercy on my soul the day they graduate high school. I’ll just float away in a vapor of tears and emotional sweats.
Ron Swanson will be so disappointed in me.