For some reason, I have several friends with newborns right now. I see their posts on Facebook about sleepless nights and my heart goes out to them. I remember those days and nights far too well. Ok, full disclosure…I don’t remember those days and nights very well at all, because sleep deprivation is real and I’m pretty sure those months of barely conscious parenting left giant gaps in my grey matter. But I definitely remember how awful it all was. Begging this mewling creature to please, for the love of all things, go to sleep. Freezing stock still after putting him into his crib, believing that infants were like T. rexes and their sight was motion-based (fact: it is not. Infants track onto parental sleeplessness and terror, so we’re all doomed from the start). Discovering that a stretch of sleep longer than two hours was better than any sex you’d ever had or would ever have again. Sleep, glorious sleep. I feel for them.
But today I have teenagers. And yesterday I took great and perverse glee in practicing my flute in my office, right outside their bedrooms, as they overslept naps from staying up all night at a coding hackathon. The rule in the house is “you can stay up as late as you want at Code Day, just know that you are responsible for your behavior when you get home and we’re not tiptoeing around your sleep-deprived mood.” I cranked the metronome, but refrained from pulling out the piccolo.
It’s been a long and winding road getting to this point, and for a long time I wasn’t sure it would ever happen.
We’re about to start college visits with one kid and the other is registering for high school classes. I haven’t had to hire a babysitter in years. I have the time and mental energy to consider my own life and what I’d like my future to be. They know how to make their own food and do their own laundry and have become fantastic young men I enjoy being around.
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s illuminating the past 17 years. What I see by its glow is painful moments interwoven with times of great improvement and promise. I see events that tried our very souls and others that carried them to heights never imagined. I see life through an unexpected briar patch of parenting, and emerging the other side wiser and stronger. There were times…many, many times…that I absolutely hated the situation in which we found ourselves: parenting an intense high-energy child, then advocating for his asynchronous needs, then homeschooling him when nothing else worked. But this gradually brightening light is showing that every step we took, every frightening leap of faith forward, led us to where we are now and will continue to light the way ahead.
The years on this long and winding road can be brutal, but I see an oasis ahead. It’s that light, just over there, and it’s shining brightly.
Today’s post is part of February’s GHF Blog Hop.