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Travis and I have a tendency of describing the stage of life we’re in just like this, “Oh, we’re in the TRENCHES.” I’m pretty sure the “trenches” part comes across a bit dramatic, but it’s true. We have 4 kids under 5.5 years of age. If that’s not the trenches (at least of parenthood), then I don’t know what is. We have one in kindergarten, two in diapers, three who need help brushing their teeth and wiping their bums, and four crazy-different-awesome-unique-scary-smart-challenging personalities.
This past weekend we were able to climb out of said trenches for a brief moment in time. We had 72 hours of confusingly glorious, hard-t0-get-used-to, kid free time. We attended one country concert, one Stanford football game, at least 15 corn hole matches (our competitiveness will never die, no matter how deep in the trenches we are), we went on two tough runs in one amazing city, we enjoyed brunches… at restaurants… without kids… WITH adult beverages, and we slept in past 6:30am (and trust me, that’s a BIG deal).
As I said, it was confusingly glorious. Most of the time I wondered when I was feeding Charlotte next, or where all the screeching was, or how terrible I’d feel in the morning waking up to kids after having too much fun at a tailgate (#sorrynotsorry), but none of that happened. Instead, I got two full nights of sleep (what!?) and was actually able to breathe.
Like, DEEP breathe.
I was able to focus without chaos. I was able to reflect without distraction. I was able to talk, and think, and respond without losing my train of thought. I mean, my goodness… I was able to go to the bathroom without three “helpers” getting my toilet paper, asking me questions, and flushing the toilet. It was all very strange.
I walked away from this trip with a few interesting takeaways:
1. I can read an entire book in one day
I had no idea I could do that. I’ve never done it before (please don’t judge me if that’s something people are supposed to do all the time). I’m not sure if it was the book, or my ability to focus, or that good ol’ competitive spirit that got excited when I was flying through the pages, or what… but I did it. And I was proud. And excited. Once again, please don’t judge, but I haven’t read a non kid-related and/or parenting-related book since before Abby was born (which is almost SIX years ago). I haven’t found or made the time. I will now. If that’s not #adulting, I don’t know what is (because having 4 kids clearly doesn’t qualify).
2. I am more in love with my husband than ever
Queue the eye rolls and giggles, but I can’t walk away from this time without sharing this fact. I’ve never loved Travis more. And that’s saying a lot (those of you who know us, know this is true). He came into my life for some miraculous reason and I’ve never felt more fortunate to have been in the right place, at the right time, with the right shared values, goofiness, passion, work ethic, and LOVE. This time was special for us because as I said earlier, we were able to focus on each other and talk, think, and respond without losing our train of thought and/or being distracted. That’s a gift for parents. More than that, I feel like I love and appreciate Travis more for who he is now than I ever did before. And that is also saying a lot, because I love this Chubbies-wearing, shot-gunning, belly-dancing crazy man more than anything else on earth. I couldn’t imagine a better best friend to be on this journey with.
3. I am very full
No, I don’t mean of food and beer (though one could argue I was full of both at certain points this weekend – you saw the schedule above), but I walked away from this weekend feeling so full of love and appreciation and happiness. I’m grate-FULL. Extremely grateful. For my family, my friends, my history, my NOW. I’m actually writing this as a reminder to myself, but it’s much easier to feel grateful when the kids are all asleep, or at school, or we’re away. It’s harder when we’re in the trenches. It’s hard to remember this feeling when Caroline drops her milk bottle on the floor (again), and the damn cup sprays milk all over my kitchen (again). It’s hard to feel grateful when Mackenzie is screaming at me (again) because her lovey wasn’t in the car after school so the world is going to end (again). It’s hard to feel grateful when Charlotte blows out her diaper (again) in the middle of our stroll to school, forcing me to change her (again), before we go back to school (again) to drop off the second batch of kids. And it’s hard to feel anything but frustrated when Abby complains (again) about how I cut her apples the wrong way or how I hung her dresses on Mackenzie’s side of the closet (again – way to go Momma).
These moments aren’t fun, or glamorous, or Instagram-picture worthy (because we all know Instagram is the highlight reel, right?), and my reactions are typically less than ideal (quietly or not so quietly cursing the spilled milk, screaming back at a 3.5 year old, wanting to cry about a blown-out diaper, and projecting frustrations onto a 5 year old), but look at the bright side. Look at ALL the crap I get to deal with every day (and I mean crap in the best way possible). Look at my beautiful, loud, kind-hearted, messy, curious, fighting, hard-working (sometimes), dirty, sweet, annoying, impressive, frustrating, AMAZING kids. They’re exactly what we always wanted. The reality, of course, is much messier than the dream, but it’s our reality. And in many ways that I’m sure a lot of people don’t understand, it really is our dream come true.
Honestly, as amazing as the weekend was, I’m happy to be back in the trenches. We dug them with love. We went into this with open eyes and hopeful hearts and thankfully on most days, we’re still enormously grateful and just plain happy (especially when the kids are all asleep before 8pm – then we’re over the moon happy and we celebrate by binge watching some addicting show like Billions and drinking some delicious wine, because beer is obviously for tailgating and country concerts).
Right now, we’re supposed to be in the trenches. If we didn’t feel like we were in them, we’d be doing it all wrong. Having kids is no joke. It’s a battle. It requires strategy, tough love, difficult choices, plenty of resistance, painful wounds, overwhelming emotions, and hopefully… just hopefully… in the end, we’re able to walk away feeling like we won. That’s our goal. Hard work, no regrets, and more love than these kids will know what to do with.
The trenches. That’s exactly where Travis and I belong.
Photo Credit: Hayley Jo Photography