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Starting Anew

Have you ever begun reading a book, and then put it down for months? When you once again found time, you had to turn back to page one, or at the very least, reread several chapters. The same holds true when you’re an author of a blog documenting your experiences as a single mom and you drift. What at first begins as an unplanned writing ‘break’ because of laundry and dishes and more laundry, turns into just a brief hiatus because of more embarrassingly lame excuses like work and dust bustering and ellipticalling, which then somehow morphs into my brain’s amazement at how much more stuff can get done when not writing.

But then, the other day, as we sat curled up in a cocoon of Corduroy and Raggedy Ann picture books, Autumn asked this question:

“Will you be with me forever?” 

I was especially tired and overwhelmed, my headache meds once again running low, and had asked, “Will you remember me as being young and fun, or old and cranky?” She had responded old and cranky, and then, gathering from my reaction she had chosen wrong, asked, “What does that mean?” And that somehow led to the forever question.

“I’ll be with you as long as I can,” I said, sounding morose and depressing, too Hallmark-y and ancient even if I were truly an old lady. So then I added, “Yes. I will be with you forever. Because even when people aren’t with you, they’re always in your heart.” Which felt cheesey and corny, but equally appropriate and true. 

People move on, but words and moments – they last – for as long as you can remember them, or for as long as they can be read.

For some reason, all of the last four years since Autumn was born has been a flurry of highs and lows, fasts and slows, but throughout the past three months, those winds transformed into tornadoes.  We made room for her new room, from a hodgepodge of furniture – worn brown nightstands and a purple plastic vanity, a crib turned toddler bed with Elsa and Anna linen – to a white formica fantasy of pastels and rainbows. 

And overnight Autumn went from three to four.

Our neighbor came over. 

“Wow. She seems so different,” she said.

My dad observed.

“She seems so old.”

The consensus made it even more undeniable. As the room transformed, so, too, had she – more secure and self-confident, stylish and silly, independent and imaginative.

And all that was left in the hourglass of babyhood were several tiny grains – my favorite, hearing her say ‘lellow’. And then, even that dissipated sometime between the Paci Fairy’s visit and Autumn dropping her afternoon nap. Then, the gusts picked up – sweeping through our house and our lives; she began opening her own gummies and straws, stabbing her own juice and administering her own vitamins. Even opening the fridge and the freezer sans aide. I was considering retiring my mommy button, but then, the night tumult began, spinning me for another loop. I thought the whole sleeping saga ended for us at 18 months, when she finally made it through the night and – hallelujah – was even a top notch napper.  

Today, I’m choking on those words, because as Autumn progresses rapidly in so many unexpected and exciting ways – she’s going to be a pediatrician, she announced this morning in the car! – she just as quickly retracts in others. She keeps trying to sleep in my room, and I keep sending her back, kicking and screaming. Until now, when I’m writing these words, and realizing how scary it must be to discover independence, because yes, now you don’t need mom, but yes, also you want her. And now, with her words, and my words, I’m steering back to shore and starting anew.

“Mommy, will you be with me forever?” she had asked. 

Forever…and also, now.

Mommy On.

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