don't look back, you're not going that way
Today Annabella wanted to sit on my lap as she ate her mac & cheese at lunch time. She wouldn't stay still - she kept wiggling all over and she dropped several cheesy noodles on my pants. I have several yellow dots on my jeans to prove that! As she ate/made messes, she was singing and talking and laughing. She kept asking me questions and giggled at my answers.
After she ate and I cleaned the macaroni out of her hair, I started putting her down for her nap. As I held her and she looked up at me singing, I wondered where I would be without her.
I pictured an alternate universe Natalie, 20 pounds lighter, driving her black SUV around town. Free, young, single. The opposite of current Natalie, who is riddled with anxiety and covered in cheese on most days. She has a lifestyle similar to Holly Golightly's from Breakfast at Tiffany's.
But Alternate Universe Natalie has never felt true joy. She doesn't know how to be free because she is too busy reading books and crocheting to go out with friends. And she's probably not single, she's probably still waiting around for some guy - who doesn't see what's right in front of him - to propose or something. The only thing she has going for her right now is her youth. Oh and the whole twenty-pounds-lighter-still-fits-in-her-skinny-jeans-from-high-school thing. I envy that.
Sometimes I look back on the season of my life before I became a mother and I am bitter. I miss the freedom. I miss the old me. I miss my old body. I wish I had stepped out of my comfort zone and enjoyed life more. I was so afraid of living. I rarely traveled, I only ever dated one guy, and I let other people talk me out of my dreams.
I am (obviously) someone who looks back on the past and thinks about all of the things I could have done differently. If I could only go back to one year, one day, one moment... it would alter my entire life, making it more fulfilling. I've done this since I was a kid and had my first embarrassing moment. I know it is pointless. I know that it hurts me. I know that it chains me to a fictional world that does not exist. Or maybe it does exist, in an alternate universe that is none of my business. We all know what happens to super heroes who visit alternate worlds.
I once heard someone say "enjoy every season of motherhood." The good parts and the stressful parts. The sleepless nights, the messy floors, the never-ending piles of laundry, the first day of school, everything. I do - there is no question. This isn't about that though, not today anyway. Motherhood has changed my life for the better. Some days it doesn't feel like it, but today... Today I am so happy to be a mom. My house is a disaster and it smells kinda funky, but the way Annabella was singing and giggling today made me remember that without her, my life would be a lot sadder.
I am entering a new season of my life. This is a season of forgiveness, moving forward, and living my life to its fullest. I am letting go of so many things. It's hard. so so so hard. I hold onto everything, from elementary school grudges to the ribbon my husband wrapped around his first gift to me. It may be way over due, and it may take way too long, but I am letting go of the old hurts and I am not picking up new hurts. I am purging physical and emotional clutter from my life.
This is part of my new self-care. Out with the old. In with the new. Bring on self-love, getting closer to God, and getting through the day without crying. Goodbye bitterness, selfishness, and self-loathing. I'm moving on.