Tonight I’m lying here beside sleeping Olive, who wheedled her way into my bed, and I’m thinking about the past three years.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how far I’ve come – how far WE’VE come.
It’s feeling very fall-ish already in these parts. Crisp evenings and foggy mornings and me slowly rooting out and donating every extraneous item in our house in my traditional fall purge.
In the midst of all of this, I was writing down events in my old-school paper planner (does anyone else still use these? I’m terrified they’ll go extinct. I use a Google calendar too, but I can’t function unless I can SEE my week) when I found myself in the first week of October, writing, “Olive’s 6th Birthday”.
She starts Grade 1 in a handful of days, then she turns six.
I’m going to have a six-year-old. And while I’m floored by this fact in the way all mothers are when we suddenly step back to notice that all the small growing our children did invisibly day after day has added up to something so huge (SIX!), it’s also because for me, Grade 1 has always hovered in the future as a finish line of sorts.
When we first moved to Calgary, I had no idea how any of this was going to work. Olive and I moved into a tiny basement apartment where we shared a room. I had one very small writing client and basic child support. I was scared out of my mind.
The road from there until Olive began Grade 1 – when she’d be in school all day and I’d be able to take on more work without having my paycheque swallowed up by childcare bills – seemed so long.
I didn’t have a plan. I felt like I couldn’t look more than a few months in front of me or I’d get a strangled, choking feeling because I truly didn’t know what was going to come next or how I was going to make it happen.
But we’re here. We made it. And now it just seems like it was always sort of…inevitable. Like, of course we got here! What else was going to happen?
And so while I’ve been making sure she has new shoes and labelling everything and girding myself for the reality of packing a full lunch every day, it hasn’t really sunk in. I haven’t spent a lot of time letting it.
I have a tendency to do this, to magnify my mistakes and gloss over the more triumphant bits. When I accomplish something I usually just turn my sights to the next thing, and I’ve been trying to undo that, to balance out my focus more.
So, I’m writing this post. To mark this realization in a small but significant way, in the way I mark all realizations, really – by writing a monologue to strangers on the internet. It’s fitting somehow, because really, that’s what’s gotten me here. Virtually everything I have achieved can be traced back to this blog.
If I’m being completely honest, the past three years were mostly wonderful, but there were also deep pockets where things felt challenging and lean and exhausting and sometimes panic-inducing. I’ve often been filled with guilt and worry about how Olive will look back and see these years. Whether she’ll understand what was happening, or why.
It’s felt a lot like holding my breath.
I’m trying now to consciously exhale.