It's the night before my sweet little Kaylee Bug turns two years old.
I came in here to write after spending a short while with her before bed, where we read her favorite new book - Ladybug Girl, and she asked to say her "pears" (prayers) - prayers in which she frequently thanks Jesus for things like Captain Feathersword from The Wiggles, as well as other important things like candy, Costco and Grandma.
After the reading of the book (and my refusal to read the book again), the pears, and the stalling, I succumbed to her request of "Mommy yay down, too?"
So, this little mommy yayed down, too.
And, in those little moments, I realized how far we'd come in two years.
We made it through postpartum depression and anxiety, an overwhelming sense of when in the hell am I going to figure this whole motherhood thing out (answer = uh, never), very sleepless, unpredictable nights, the horror of teething, so many firsts, so many laughs and tears and holycrapIamgoingtoLOSEit moments.
We've made it through so much. And while I will always remember those really, really hard times - the belief that I would literally never sleep again, the terrifying panic and worry, the worse-than-contractions-kind-of-pain I had after giving birth, the insane sleep deprivation, the unbearable irritability, our 9-month battle with breast feeding, Kaylee's refusal to take naps for her first 12 months of life, multiple trips to the ER and a stay in the children's hospital, and did I mention the sleep deprivation? - I can honestly tell you that I don't have anywhere near the vivid imagery of those events that I did months ago. The emotional pain of those struggles fades more and more as time goes on, believe it or not, and I thank God for that.
When I look back on the last 2 years, those really sucky moments are not what stands out most to me anymore. For the longest time, I couldn't get past those haunting memories. I felt like they were so deeply etched in my mind, and for the longest time, I had a hard time believing things would get much better, or that it would ever become easier for me to look back and not have those be the most dominating memories I had of being a mother.
Will I ever completely forget what that junk was like? Oh, heck no. I will always remember how real and how difficult those days and months were. But now, I'm able to see myself as an even tougher woman for actually surviving all that. Those were bumps in the road that helped me grow, helped me learn more about myself, and helped to stir up a passion in myself to help other women who are either in that boat now or who have been there in the past.
Now, when I play that little slideshow in my head of the past 2 years, I see things like Kaylee taking her first steps in our office, and then later that night, taking more steps out in the living room after Dennis bribed her with a cookie.
I see her enjoying her first bite of cake, courtesy of my Dad.
I see her running all the way across a soccer field, just to get to the dirt border around the outside so she can play in the dirt and rocks instead of the soft grass.
I see a little girl who decided all on her own that it was time to start potty training, and who pretty much always thinks it's okay to just sit all the live long day on the toilet and "go potty more!" only to get off the toilet, state matter-of-factly, "Don't pee on da floor" and then proceed to pee on the floor.
I see her jacking a can of V8 out of the fridge and toting it around pretending to drink out of it as she walks around the house, and then saying, "Ahhhhh" after she's finished with her pretend drink.
I see a little girl who knows her ABC's and sings the Ippy Pider (Itsy Bitsy Spider) song all on her own.
I see a little girl who uttered, "Dammit!" in Wal-Mart today after I dropped a box of pasta off the shelf.
I see all the times Kaylee's face lit up each and every time Uncle Colin and Sarah came home from college after she'd gone months without seeing them.
I see my spunky little smiling, energetic, funny, smart, absolutely beautiful baby girl.
And, finally, I see myself as a damn good mother.
I no longer see a failure who still can't keep the house clean, who occasionally swears and loses my patience and struggles to stay sane some days. I no longer see a mess of a mom who never had it together.
Now I see a woman who balances a marriage, a job, friendships, family, being a mother, and trying to have some time to myself, among other things like oh, paying the bills and planning meals and countless other super-fun responsibilities.
I see a woman who still swears and loses my patience and struggles to stay sane, but now I see that as normal, rather than seeing it as a character flaw. I still don't have it together many days, and I know I will never "arrive" at a place where I'll have it all together. That'd be a load of crap. I see a mama who does her best and who realizes, more often than not, that that's all I can do.
Forget the pressure to be the perfect mother, to have a clean house, and to be Pollyanna. Screw than, man. It's just not me.
I see the way my daughter has turned out, and I know I've done okay. And I know I will do okay.
While I may not be proud of everything I do and the way I react to everything, I realize that's just fine. And I realize that my daughter needs to see that. She needs to see her mama as human. As imperfect and sometimes messy. As one in need of a daily happy pill and some time to myself, and a good, healthy dose of Grey's Anatomy once a week.
We made it.
We made it two years. And while she tries my patience like no other, she just keeps getting more fun.
Fun enough to give me the crazy notion that it's finally time to do this whole thing over again.
God help me...