As December ticked by and brought us closer to an end and subsequent beginning that is the New Years, I kept thinking on this post from January.
Truthfully, my gut reaction was embarrassment followed by a scoff. How silly of me to think we’d breeze through this first year of parenthood with finesse or ease. Thrive? HA. We barely SURVIVED. Stupid. You were so stupid, Rachel. That’s what you get for making those grand sweeping declarations and predictions like you always do.
For a moment I even considered deleting it, quietly sweeping the evidence of my naïveté under the rug. But for the sake of authenticity I left it and just continued saying mean things about myself as I shook my head. It was a bit like shoving a dog’s nose in their mess. Unnecessary, ineffective, abusive.
I thought about it more and began to wonder what kind of standard I was holding myself to. What should I have done this year that I didn’t do? What about how I lived wasn’t true to the word “thrive”? I had a flashback to two weeks postpartum. My right nipple was torn to shreds by a tiny baby latch so I was nursing on one side and pumping on the other. My brand new girl was sleeping very little and crying all the time. My temperature was slowly rising due to some mystery infection that would later land me in the ER, stump the doctors, and be filed under, “extreme sleep deprivation and stress”. As The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt marathoned on Netflix in the background, I sobbed under the intense weight of my new life and weirdly found solace in the catchy intro music.
“Unbreakable – they alive damnit!” I sang as tears seared my cheeks. In the haze of my hormone hallucination I felt as though they had written those words for me. “Females are strong as hell,” the television cheered me on to make it through another hour in the day.
Looking back I realize I probably looked and sounded deranged. I probably was, a little bit. But I made it through that hour. And the next one. And the next. And here I am – here we are, nine months later and we’re surviving. Maybe even thriving? I mean, the house is a wreck and we consider sleeping for four whole hours to be a miracle. But we smile and laugh every day. We hug and kiss and hold hands every day. We play and learn and sing every day. The Unbreakble song still makes me smile.
This has been a year of lowered standards. It’s easy to say, “let go of the little things.” But I’m learning how to actually DO that. I feel peace and freedom when I’m able to unclench my jaw, loosen my grip, and let something insignificant slip through my raw, blistered hands. Goodbye, you do not matter to me right now.
When I said, “thrive” earlier this year I meant, “have control over everything.” And it turns out it actually means, “don’t give a shit unless you really need to.” Or maybe something a little more eloquent. But that’s the gist.
I’ve done a lot of really hard things this year. Hard, sharp, grinding things. And I’m pushed and stretched and challenged more every single day. Sometimes I feel run down and not sure I have it in me to do this. And that makes me question if I did what I set out to do – did I thrive? And you know what?
I think I did.