It's happened at least three times.
The first time, Russ and I had just moved into our shiny new apartment with natural light everywhere. Hope felt like a living breathing thing we could touch. I remember snapping a picture of the apartment number — 126 — and posting it on Instagram.
"New beginnings," it said.
And we all know new beginnings mean starting over.
I had this vision of me art journaling in my office with the natural light falling into the room, dancing off the walls and my paper. I would sit in that chair — right there in the corner — and write through the night, until my heart had spoken her piece. We would finally bring home our baby to this space, too. I knew that in my bones but couldn't tell you how or when or why.
But it wasn't like this. Not really.
Two weeks after we moved, I texted a friend.
"MAYDAY. I can't create. What is happening?!"
Her response was quick.
"You need to mourn this transition, braveheart."
It was the first time I had ever heard of "mourning" a season. This transition my husband and I were in was a good thing. Wouldn't we celebrate it?
"All transition is a loss," she told me. "Even if it's bringing you into something good — something better."
Oh. Well. That changes things.
We were experiencing loss — definitely. Loss of a dream. Loss of a goal. Loss of friendship. Even though the loss was initiated through our decision making because of what we knew we needed as a family, a loss is a loss. It still stung. And when she sent me these words, I realized everything I'd been trying to forget.
The second time it happened was a little more brutal. I stepped into freedom, but lost a business. With that particular loss, the relief of letting go felt like breath and space to stretch into who I am meant to be, but it also looked like betrayal and whispers behind my back. I can think of that season now as The Burning Season: everything around me burnt to ash, but with it came growth I never anticipated. Because of that season, I found myself working for a company I've always admired from the distance.
I also wrote Secrets Don't Keep as an answer to the gumption that made its way into my veins during those few months.
I'm living the third season now.
It's a season where Creativity looks so much different than it did before.
I cannot stay up until 2am writing anymore. I haven't art journaled since August. Last time I was able to color my hair was at the beginning of January. I haven't gotten my nails done since February, when Russ and Jubal were in North Carolina. This past month we did shift bids at work and I didn't have the freedom to choose the schedule I would prefer: I had to think about when Russ worked, when he hoped to be working, and what that meant for childcare before I chose the schedule that would best fit our family.
There is not a day where it's feasible for me to jump in the Subaru and drive the 45 minutes to see one of my best friends who I haven't seen since January. Right now, because I'm training a class at work, my life consists of waking up, snuggling with my son, going to work, coming home, and snuggling him some more before he falls asleep. After that, my weekends are my space to create, and usually this looks like one day of Netflix binging (to recuperate from the week) and one day of writing and reading.
I used to be able to pick up a book and collapse into the pages, finishing it by the end of the day. Not anymore. Now I rely on the quiet space of a sleeping six month old and (sometimes) the empty conference room during my lunch at work.
Even though I have my hopes of space to create during the weekend, sometimes it's not done at all because mama needs a nap, too. And that's okay.
My husband and I haven't gone on a date since March, and that was to Target and Dairy Queen. And this isn't for lack of babysitters or trying. We have incredible people who've offered, multiple times, to step in and give us a night. But our schedules are completely opposite — both in day and time — so we can spread out the availability of caring for Jubal. While I'm training a class, I see him just as much as I see my son. After I put Jubal to bed I normally collapse on the couch against Russ for about 30 minutes — if we're lucky — before I have to drag myself to bed.
In this season, we cannot make sudden decisions anymore. We cannot go to the movies anymore. We cannot leave for weekend trips anymore. We cannot use our extra cash toward replacing necessary items for us anymore (mostly because extra cash? Ha. What is that?)
Basically, we cannot live the way we did before.
And this is a loss. It took me a while for me to admit this — to whisper to myself that I miss having time and space to think and create. I fought a lot of guilt and a buckets of shame because I should be grateful — so very grateful — for this gift of a season.
And I am. Completely. I didn't understand why I felt this way when in reality, I didn't want to go back to how life was before little lion came into it. I'd rather have him than space to myself any day of the week. Then I started thinking — I didn't want to go back to any of the other seasons, either.
If I've learned anything through the process of bringing Jubal home, it's that you can hold multiple emotions all at the same time. The human psyche and heart are nuanced and layered and so very difficult to capture. When I hold my son I waited six and a half years for, I'm not thinking, "I'd rather be reading or writing or creating." It is all him. All I can focus on are his eyes, his smirk, his laughter.
But in moments of quiet, when I open a book or sit in front of my computer to pen some words, I realize I miss that piece of me and I'm glad that for a moment, I'm getting to spend some time with her. As I write this, he's sleeping. I'm able to focus. I remember how much I miss the feel of being in the flow when words come without me even trying. I think about how great it would be to have a day to myself — how many words would I be able to write then? Even as I think this, I know the truth: probably not a lot. I'd be thinking about Jubal. Wondering if he was okay. Texting Russ to make sure he didn't need anything. Brainstorming about something fun we can do as a family when I get home and remembering our jam sessions that have quickly become some of Jubal's favorite moments.
This life I'm living? It's magic. The story we found ourselves this past year in has completely taken our breath away and I am daily thankful for the gift of loving little lion. I am grateful for all of the seasons before this one and how they prepared us to become a family that loves hard and lives to join forces with those breathing life into new things.
Our life last year was good.
Our life this year is better.
And for that, I give thanks.
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