An essay inspired by an unlikely alleyway conversation:
We'd seen him so many times before. He was a tall man, always in sunglasses and a beanie with a little swoop of white hair peeking out from underneath — like a man who never wanted to grow up. He drove a black van with the word "SUPER" written on the side. For years, he would show up at neighborhood parties, yet I never knew his name. To me, he was just an old guy who never wanted to grow up. I did wonder from time to time who he was, and what his life was like. What did he do for a living? Why did his van say "SUPER" on the side? But we never did get around to figuring that out.
The "Van Life" has always been a dream of my husband's. Being equal parts homebodies and travel junkies has always been our style... but when the disaster that is 2020 hit and we became homebound, more or less, for the foreseeable future... we decided no better time than the present to jump on board the van life bandwagon.
Funny how sometimes life has to smack you in the face before you "get it". One day, I was operating reasonably fine and the next, I was in the midst of a tearful breakdown over having to restart my computer and lose my bookmarks for some unforeseen reason. It was as if I was running on fumes; adrenaline—whatever you want to call it. The "straw that broke the camel's back"—or whatever proverb you'd like to use. I was pushed over the edge and there was no clear path for bringing me back. Even after my husband came to my rescue and found my long-lost bookmarks in an annoyingly little amount of time, I still couldn't seem to pull myself together. Yes, this was much deeper than a computer mishap. It was as if the flood of built-up anger, helplessness and resentment of the last four months came rushing out all at once. Cathartic, really. And looking back on this, it was long overdue.
Um, yes I do realize how ridiculous this sounds. But to anyone who has had to say goodbye to a car that's been with you for 10+ years, it can be kind of emotional! I cannot begin to quantify the number of hours I spent in there.
As part of the #morewordschallenge with Exhale Creativity, one of our prompts was to:
"Write a thank you note to your neighborhood, city, or a specific place, like a restaurant, coffee shop, park or any meaningful location."
It was early on a Monday morning. Our bedroom was dark, with just a pinch of moonlight showing through our open window. I could see the outline of my husband turned towards the nightstand. The sounds of the fan and the noisemaker from our registry were permeating the cool air. A soft breeze was blowing through the room. Yet despite all of this, I could still hear my husband and my dog snoring.
I know I commiserate with most of you by saying that it's so hard to get things done these days. So many pieces of our normal have been broken, and we've all been left trying to build new, beautiful things out of what is left. At any given moment, I could be tackling several separate things—whether it be cooking dinner, answering a Slack, picking up toys, writing an email, wiping the counters, or tending to whatever need my toddler currently has. This has lead me to miss many small moments my son has simply because I'm not looking, or I'm not present. And I'm realistic enough to know that in the current headspace I'm in, I cannot make the shift to be present 100% of the time—but I will try to make small improvements where and when I can.
Here we are, 67 days in. The shock has worn off, and we've assimilated somewhat nicely to our new routine. We know where we will be going this weekend—nowhere. We know who we will be seeing this weekend—no one. Yet somehow, as the global pandemic dust settles all around us, we are finding ourselves connecting with far-away family now more than ever before.
And just like that, he is one. I am no longer a mother of a newborn. That is no longer my identity. It is this identity that I have lived with for what feels like so long. Seemingly, I rubbed my eyes, poured my coffee—and boom, there was a toddler. There is no level on which I am ready to accept this. Inside, I’m pleading—give me back the newborn onesies, the burp clothes and breastfeeding accoutrement I have packed away so neatly in plastic containers I store for another time, or to give away to friends. No longer needed, they’ve been pushed aside—somewhat analogous to how I’m feeling in this season of motherhood. They are the cherished relics of what I felt would be the hardest time. They elicit a sense of nostalgia. The strong and somewhat nauseating smell of baby detergent enveloping us both as we would rock in the glider, or cry together on the couch. It still sits on my nose to this day.
It’s my second Mother’s Day, and I still haven’t been able to make space to write about my journey to motherhood. Because of his prompt entrance to the world—both in utero and out—it left me with what seemed like an extremely small amount of time to process my new role. In fact, almost fourteen months of experience on my resume does not yield me much more confidence than the first day I peed on a stick. There is so much I do not know, and I've admitted that so often I feel buried in it. And funny enough, I find myself admitting that even in circumstances where I feel somewhat confident I am right.
Every day since March 16, 2020 has been some version of the same. I never know what day it is. It feels like I'm in the midst of the early 90's classic (by some standards) Groundhog Day where the same day is lived over and over again repeatedly. Below is a series of photos of our day in the life of the COVID-19 pandemic. This could be us at any given point of any day, as each day is almost exactly as the one before.
Hi! I'm Laura, a 30-something first-time mom raising her little dude in southern California. It's been quite a first year, and this is my way to try to make sense of it all. This is a safe space for all moms to get some laughs, recommendations and feel like they are not alone.