“No matter how careful you are, there’s going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn’t experience it all. There’s that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should’ve been paying attention. Well, get used to that feeling. That’s how your whole life will feel some day. This is all practice.”
— Chuck Palahniuk
I wrote this quote down in a journal a long, long time ago and tonight I came across it again. This blog is intended to be about Austen Lily, but this post in particular is more about the (my) journey to motherhood. I remember when I first read this quote, it seemed wistful to think of how one day, the fabulous life I was leading, would all seem like a distant memory. The idea of it was quite abstract to me–I knew that one day we would all change course, the parties would end, and there would be a decision we all made to settle down.
Well, as seems to be the case with most aspects of my life, that grand change did not go quite the way I envisioned it–and was not nearly as far off in the future as I had imagined. I got pregnant. I quit my job(s). I had a beautiful baby girl. I got married. I made decisions, lots of very big, irreversible decisions. And tonight, after a hell of a whirlwind, I revisted the girl who sat in her apartment in University(just ask Alason, that really was the best little apartment) and wrote down quotes about how life was going to fly by, all the while being pretty certain that it would never slip past me–after all, I read the quote. I was prepared.
Well, I have that sunken feeling Mr. Palahniuk describes. I feel like I did not appreciate so many of the little moments that lead up to the life I now have. I feel like I did not spend nearly enough time counting the tiny kicks in my ribs and eating ice cream over the sink at midnight. I was reminded today, when holding Mindy’s sweet baby Brad, that I did not stare at Austen’s quivering newborn lip nearly enough. Nor did I cherish the moments when I nursed her at 3 am and tried to stifle my laughs as I watched informercials about the shake weight. All of these moments that seem so fleeting–and that was just the past six months. Theres an entire lifetime before that of tiny things that I forgot to notice.
Today, at the park, Liz’s fearless little girl, Adalai, tried a trick on the jungle gym that was…well, a bit too tricky. She landed flat on her back and the instant she hit, I knew the feeling that overcame her. That feeling when you hit the cold, hard ground and all the air escapes your lungs. For a split second, you really wonder and worry if you will breathe again. You look around, like Addie did, for someone to hold you and breathe for you until you can regain your bearings. Seeing her struggle to stop stifle her tears, all to aware of the power of embarassment at her tender age, I knew exactly how she felt. It occurred to me, while reading that college journal, that I have sort of been living in a perpetual state of waiting to breathe again. I have been fearful of what turns my life has taken. When I was pregnant, I held my breathe until I held that sweet girl. But as soon as my lungs were full, they emptied again as I lay awake in my bed–anticipating her next cries. Since then, it has simply been one thing after another. My “breathing” has been labored and I have been so focused on making sure that each moment goes according to plan, that I fear I have been failing to actually live those moments.
Chad constantly chides me for my picture taking. He tells me that I am missing the moment in an attempt to capture it. To an extent, I know he is correct. But I read that quote. I know that one day, there will be a feeling that I missed it all–that I never quite caught my breath. I guess I feel that in those moments I will look at the pictures and I will somehow be there again. Although, as much as I stare at this picture–I know that moment, so many beautiful moments with wonderful people (i hope, i dearly hope, you all know how much you have meant to me and how much you still do), are beyond my grasp.