“Why do you feel like you need to prove something?” Judd asked me while I sobbed on the other end of the phone.
Just a few days earlier, I packed up my crew and headed west without him. I bit off more than I could chew. I’m admitting that now.
Sara and her crew came to stay for a couple of days last week. After a few overnights, we caravanned across mountain passes, over rivers, and on a ferry boat for a mini vacation, sans Judd. I started to wimp out when we hit Wenatchee. The thought of solo parenting (managing A’s diabetes, nursing a newborn, and corralling a 2 year old) coupled with traveling across the state had me panicking. In a way, I suppose I’m a bit of a masochist. I know it’s going to be painful; that I’ll be sleep deprived and depleted. Yet I jump in somewhat naïvely, hoping for a different outcome. Masochist or optimist? You tell me.
We broke up the trip by overnighting at Sara’s in law’s in Cle Elum. All three kids ended up in bed with me: one with a juice box at his lips most of the night, another at my breast for four hours straight, and another thrashing and kicking most of the night. The next morning, I was in full fight or flight mode. My brain told me to flee back home– where routine and familiarity would’ve saved my mental health before it was too late. Unfortunately, that heart of mine won and I was fighting to continue the mini vacation I had romanticized in my mind. The kids needed to experience new scenery and I needed to catch up with my sweet friend that I hadn’t seen since last summer. I needed to show myself (?) that I was capable to doing this alone– that I didn’t need Judd.
Our happy-go-lucky baby boy was far from happy-go-lucky in the car. In fact, he screamed the second I buckled him in and started the car. Just when you think a baby might tire of exasperating his lungs for an hour straight, he wails some more– you know, because crying is exhausting. And when you’re exhausted, you cry. And repeat. Poor little Otto baby…
Between Cle Elum and Anacortes, we stopped four times. Blood sugar checks, comfort nursing, and roadside potty breaks. As we pulled up to the ferry line, I whipped open my bra and jumped to the backseat to save Otto and his little lungs. As he nursed, I listened to my kids’ naptime breath hum rhythmically throughout the car. The rush to “get there” was gone and I slowly drew in breaths of salty air. I kept replaying the question my concerned husband asked me earlier: What do you have to prove?
“You in ferry line?” My phone buzzed.
I scanned the lines of cars until a pair of familiar blue boots and slinky curls caught my eye. Sara led the kids to the beach while I hug-attacked that sweet friend that I hadn’t seen since last summer.
Orcas was what I remembered it to be: a quiet little island with climbing hills, rocky beaches, and sweet little lambs grazing in every pasture you passed. A memory that proved to hold true to its idyllic nature. I was also able to finally meet friends from all over the country; ladies that I’ve formed friendships with via instagram and blogging.
Despite the dreamy landscape and awesome company, I felt an ache to cut the vacation short and head home. Judd met me in Seattle and helped with the rest of the journey home. Let me tell you, when we pulled up to our little home– when I opened our creaky old door and saw chickens scratching in the yard– I felt like exclaiming Sanctuary! Instead, I opened a bottle of wine and retreated to the tub.
Here’s what I’ve learned: it’s not wrong to need Judd. It is, however, wrong to feel like I need to prove myself to the world. The same nagging feeling to prove myself had me hiking through Glacier National Park with a 5 week old baby. Look at me! I’m still the same Maggie! I’m clinging desperately to spontaneity and adventure– afraid that if I let go and accept a little routine, I will lose myself completely in motherhood. Since having a third baby and Angus’s diagnosis, that feeling of loss is almost suffocating.
Sometimes, the best of me comes out with a little help from my husband. Other times, I can wing it and be the best me on my own. Neither is wrong. Three children, 4 years old and under, is hard. Diabetes is hard. Motherhood is hard. I’m feeling the need to scale back in a big way. These ridiculous and somewhat unobtainable standards that I set for myself are setting me up for failure. I cannot be the best mom, expose my children to travel and adventure, raise livestock and grow our food, successfully manage my child’s autoimmune disease, and continue nurturing my passion for writing. I cannot do it all.
This spring, along with seasonal purging, I’m making an effort to reprioritize; to let certain things pull more weight than others. After all, I have nothing to prove. I owe that to my family.