I went to the natural history museum yesterday with my kids. We have always loved museum days. Sometimes we’ve taken sketch books, or the big dinosaur book to study. We haven’t really been able to go spend the day there like we used to in almost a year because the kids are older now and they are a lot busier. We just don’t have the free days to go into the city like we did the past few years.
Yesterday as I watched my kids make their way around the museum… I was struck. Everything was totally different. They are taller. They know more. The innocence of these fun days together is gone. It wasn’t an exploration anymore but a rehash. It felt… old. I was suddenly overwhelmed. Was it grief? Loss? I had this moment of utter and total devastation. In one moment our lazy, safe museum days were suddenly different and I knew in that moment too that soon enough they will be gone altogether. I feel like I missed the moment when it changed - and I didn’t get to appreciate the last time that it still felt special.
I managed not to lose it in the museum even though I really, really wanted to and I gallantly saved it for when I got home, but in that moment, I suddenly felt like a wave of EVERY bit of loss that you experience as a parent was washing over me.
The rational part of me knows that when every door closes another opens. I’ve never been the parent that missed having babies as my kids got older. I have loved every stage along the way and I’ve always been more excited about the next phase than the last one. TRULY. And these kids are SO BEAUTIFUL. That struck me yesterday too. I love them SO MUCH.
But in that moment I also felt… scared. Who are these people? Who am I? What is this all FOR? Why did this moment hurt SO MUCH? And then I went into the spiral of regret… regret about all the time I’ve spent working that I didn’t spend with my kids. Regret about all the choices I’ve made for them that are probably wrong. Regret about my own life choices and how it will impact their futures.
So I don’ t know what any of this means really. Today I woke up and like every other day my rational brain says, “You only have today, just do the best you can.” But my lizard, mommy brain is still smarting from yesterday. And I want to just hang on so tight to everything that I feel like I can’t breath.
This parenting thing is hard. It is amazing and heart shatteringly beautiful, but it really hurts sometimes.
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