On my phone, I keep a list of things that I love – things that make me feel like me. It starts with coffee and ends with deep breaths of forest air.
It may seem dumb, this list. Or maybe a little narcissistic. And it’s slightly sad to have to remind myself that I prefer sunflowers to roses, or that naps during sporting events are my favorite way to unwind on the weekends.
But I find myself looking at this list more and more, constantly adding, editing, tweaking.
I’ll catch myself staring down at the numbers, memorizing the content, reading them like a mantra: the sound of rain, library books, reading on the beach.
Simple delights, tiny luxuries, little things I like or look forward to doing. Small, sacred joys that can be found in the every day.
Myself essentially, boiled down to a 50-item numerical list on an iPhone.
Because in this season of life, joy can feel elusive, and the things that make me feel like me don’t feel like common sense anymore.
I haven’t felt like myself in a while.
Having a baby can have that effect, I suppose. Having two babies in 18 months turned my life inside out and upside down in the best possible way. But life changes are often disorienting, especially for control freaks like me.
When my oldest was born, I was the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life. I would spend hours just smiling at my son. I actually watched his eyelashes come in and gave my family a detailed report. I was happy and consumed. I ran full sprint towards this new identity of “mother”.
And somewhere along the way, I lost pieces of myself. Some fell away naturally, some I shook off intentionally, and some just wouldn’t seem to stick no matter how hard I tried.
I can’t get dressed anymore. My closet is overflowing, literally bursting at the seams, and yet nothing is right.
My old clothes don’t fit like they should, not with the extra weight still hanging around. Or they’re too formal – too business casual to wear while burping a baby, wiping away snot, and playing with LEGOs.
Most days I look in the mirror and don’t recognize the person I see. I look different. Even as the weight comes off, my body is still changed, probably forever. I don’t expect it to return to the way it was before. How could it, after all it’s been through?
I used to be a writer. I guess I still am. But the words don’t come as easily. Or maybe the words do, but the time doesn’t. The freedom to play and adjust the words, the mental space to spin thoughts into language. Writing feels like sore muscles. I am rusty and out of practice.
Sometimes I get mad that it’s been so long since I’ve written. I wonder if I really am a writer if I can go so long without putting pen to paper. Shouldn’t this come easy to me? Should I really have to remind myself to do the thing I claim to love?
But then I remember that there are seasons to things. There is a time to write and a time to live, and this has been a season of living. This has been a period of dramatic and transformative change. I will spend years writing about this exact moment in time, but I only get one chance to live it. Right now, I need to be in the story, not the one telling it. The writing will come, eventually. As will everything else.
Both babies are sleeping when I pull up to my grandmother’s house.
I take a breath, enjoying the still of the silence before the hustle and bustle of schlepping two kids out of the car begins.
To my right is a Crape Myrtle tree with pink flowers just beginning to bloom. I am drawn to the color, to the shape of the petals, to the reminder of life starting over again in the warmth of the spring.
Crape Myrtle trees, I type into my phone. Crape Myrtle trees.
Jillian is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap.
Featured image via Pexels