Sometimes I look back at the way I was before I had kids. I imagine people from a generation older than mine might have even said, “Now that one? She’s a little firecracker.” And they would have been right. I was a firecracker. I was driven, I was unstoppable, I was ready to take on any challenge. I learned how to play the guitar and became the lead singer of a band in a matter of a year. I got and held onto some incredibly coveted jobs in a job market that was not the kindest to everyone. I ran my first marathon and covered at least six miles each morning before the sun came out. I modeled part-time and made some decent money peddling Nextel phones in ad campaigns and being in Thievery Corporation videos.
Firecracker. Pistol. Whatever form of explosive, I was it.
But the thing with gunpowder is that it eventually burns out when ignited. And I’m not saying that it happened overnight, but I’m now almost seven years in with two kids and I can say that I am not really a firecracker. Ok, I am. I am just more like a soggy one that you can’t get to explode even when you jump on it.
Oh, we function as a family but the things that I am enthusiastic about these days have changed. The way I show my excitement has changed. While I was a full leaner-inner, per Sheryl Sandburg’s recommendations, nowadays, I am much happier reclining. Or lying inert. I get everything done, but it is all done in a way that I can manage while still juggling the demands I have on me.
I know I am not alone here. You must feel it a bit too, right? Parents around the world aren’t waking up feeling more rejuvenated than ever before because their kids kept them up all night, right? Your spark must dull a bit when your children are sick and the weight or reality of being responsible for these little beings sets in.
I don’t know about you but frankly, I find the whole thing overwhelming, exhausting and while full of joy – sometimes just the teeniest bittersweet. Baby, I was a firework, just like Katy Perry said. I just know you were too.
I went through a few scenarios to illustrate how the spark I used to have shines a little less brightly in my current life than it might have in my past life. Do you recognize yourself in any of these?
Yesterday: When I was 27, despite having the worst cramps in the world, I ran a marathon. It hurt, but I did it.
Today: The other day, my 4 year old son found a maxi pad and used the adhesive to attach it to his head. I let him walk around the house with it until it fell off because I believe in self-expression. Plus, if he fell on his head a certain way, it would be safer.
Yesterday: I had too many dates to know what to do with. I was able to save a lot of money because I rarely paid for dinner.
Today: If a man hits on me, I ask him to sign an affidavit saying he thought I was cute so I can go home and show my husband. This way he knows I still got “it.” “It” is up for interpretation but I will take what I can get. I will also take a selfie with the man to show my husband, but only if he has all his teeth.
On Alcohol Consumption
Yesterday: The definition of a good night was reinforced if I couldn’t remember pockets of time. Other things that contributed to a good night was not having to pay a huge bar tab, getting hit on by at least a few reasonably cute men and then having stories to laugh about with your girlfriends afterwards. (“What do you mean I danced on the bar?”)
Today: Two glasses of wine in and I am ready to pass out. It would be nice if my husband hit on me, but first I need to ask him to rub Ben-Gay onto my back because I’m all achy. After he’s done and the heavy smell of menthol adds to the romance of the occasion, he might think he’s getting lucky, except I’m already passed out and slightly drooling on my pillow. And let me tell you, it feels like Heaven.
Yesterday: It existed
Today: See response for “On alcohol consumption – Today”
On Getting Ready
Yesterday: Hair washed, blow dried and curled after gym workout. Makeup from MAC applied with precision. The last touches were always the final swoops of the mascara brush and lip gloss.
Today: I do the hair sniff test. If it’s reasonably passable, I brush my teeth, wipe the sleep from my eyes and artfully (i.e. haphazardly) arrange my hair. And if I do say so myself, I think I look puh-retty good despite not doing a 30 minute blow-out. Might even be some affidavit signing today.
On Going Out
Yesterday: I knew what was going on around town. And the thing is, I was probably invited to it. I liked being in the know and at “THE” places to be seen.
Today: I am excited when John suggests we round up the kids to go to Red Robin at 5:30 on a Saturday night.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
I one day fully expect to have my firecracker mojo intact and ready to go again. I may have to find a different way to channel that firecracker chutzpah than I did in the years past, but I have a feeling that it never really leaves you. Sometimes we all just need a little time to let that spark take a tiny break.
Here’s to always finding your spark again.
What was the biggest place in your life where you lost your spark after your children were born?