I just heard the phrase "In the Parenting Weeds" while listening to the Ali on the Run show with Guests Jesse Thomas and Lauren Fleshman (who also have a podcast I adore). They referred to it as this phase of parenting where the neediness is really high and independence of the child really low, and just how overwhelming and stressful it can be. I'm not the type of person to weed my garden, in fact, I find the natural "weediness" more appealing than a perfectly manicured garden with neatly trimmed hedges. Who doesn't love what my sister and I refer to as "frolicking fields?" ... anyway... I'm assuming the term comes from that feeling of weeding the garden and it never ending. The weeds just keep coming back and you can never quite catch up. There's always work to be done and not a moment to rest... Does it sound like parenting right now? Then you are in "the Parenting Weeds"
Two things inspired me to write this tonight:
1. My husband is gone and I'm all caught up on TV (except for the show we are binge watching together and I'm really, really, really upset he's not home to watch with me and trying really hard to not watch without him because then he'll quit watching altogether and it'll be a sad day for me)
2. I feel like I'm in this phase, but there's perfectly manicured grass right next to me and didn't realize how nice it looked until I could see it.
I've sort of hinted at it, but I've been hesitant to come right out and say it out of respect for any potential readers that could be struggling trying to conceive.... but this is my blog... these are my feelings... You can never "plan" for another child or guarantee another child... so it's delicate to talk about planning a pregnancy... but this is what my experience is and so my emotions are linked to that. I know there are so many woman who would do anything to be in my (presumed) position; based on my experience I believe if I want another baby I can just decide that's what I want and get to it.... and if I don't I can just decide not to (although, Raea was a 1% baby... ya know.... 99% effective protection... so... I actually feel the opposite of many women... it's never guaranteed that I'm "safe"... which makes intimacy less spontaneous and fun for different reasons).... anyway... My husband and I are not exactly on the same page with this... or maybe we're opened to the same page but he's reading a different section than me... whatever... bad metaphor... we're not totally agreeing but not totally disagreeing either. You understand!
For the longest time I was 100% sure I'd want another baby and I was mostly sure he'd change his mind or that he wasn't firm enough in his feelings on this topic one way or another so he'd eventually just meet me where I am... but I'm losing ground on this and it's because I've been in the parenting weeds and didn't really know it until I've started to see where the weeds end.... and it kinda looks nice! So I might actually be meeting him where he is instead of the other way around. This has been happening these last few weeks and I'm an emotional mess over it. So... I write.
I can't remember exactly when I signed up for the Erie Marathon, but the reason I did it was because I was 100% sure I wanted (at least) a third child and 100% sure I wanted to run Boston and 0% sure I'd want to run Boston after a third baby and 0% sure I'd want to wait that long to have a third (April 2021+9 months at the earliest? Who can plan for that far away?). So the very sure parts of me had this sense of urgency... "damn, I should just do this Boston thing so I can at least discuss having another baby"... I'm already not sure I can convince Matt to have another baby, but I didn't want to miss my chance at Boston in the meantime in case he came around to the idea relatively soon. I couldn't put everything on hold... and I felt like putting Boston on hold was going to potentially clog everything else. I didn't want to put myself in another one of these "qualify, get pregnant, then run Boston" situations. If there is a third baby, Boston comes first or not at all... because I've learned after having Maebel, that planning to run a marathon after a baby isn't easy.... especially when you have no idea how your body is going to respond to the pregnancy. It just wasn't something I wanted to do again. I would want to be free of any lingering goals and since OTQ is pretty much out of the question and a non-factor for at least a few years until the window opens, (but likely forever if the standards significantly shift)... that meant Boston was the only major thing on the running checklist that I'm still attached to. If Matt was 100% ready and on board for a 3rd, I'd have to think about the timing more (or less)... because the family is really my top priority... but.... it's just the reality us women face when we are at this age. We are in our Prime for athletics but it's Prime baby making years, too... If the day comes where he says "I'm ready", I know I'm going to look at my running and do whatever I can to achieve whatever I can but ultimately say "it doesn't matter" to any running goals that might be left on the table.... but, #dreammaternity until then!
...So my response in my head has always been that I would have another baby today. I'd do it now. He just needs to say the word! I grew up in a house where my parents raised 8 kids... so I've seen first hand how stressful it can be on the relationship, but also how if two hardworking people just keep working hard, it is possible. A financial adviser would probably tell me otherwise, but I'm just not willing to sacrifice my heart because the numbers didn't add up. You don't know my hustle!
Anyway... I'm super sad... and terrified... because just this week I started to feel really, really, really at peace with just two. (Don't @ me. I'm allowed to have feelings!) But at the very exact moment that I'm feeling this overwhelming peace... like... "this could be my forever family".... I felt broken. When I signed up for Erie... Probably, what, 7 weeks ago? (I'm on week 7 of training, I think) I was sure I wanted another baby. Not necessarily sure that that was going to happen but sure I wanted one. It is literally the reason I'm running Erie... just in case! Now... I'm so, painfully conflicted. It started a little when Matt and I went to Colorado. We just talked casually about trips we'd like to do alone again and how we'd do them. He, of course, only referred to our girls... I kept it a bit more open ended... but then it started happening again... especially these past few weeks. First, I put the girls in bunk beds and took down the crib. No crib? No baby. sad but kind of nice! Both girls somewhat know how to clean up their toys, they know how to play relatively nicely together, I don't have to be chasing them around to keep them alive. Part of me did the bunk beds thinking there would be a room freed up for a nursery again, but it kind of backfired....things are getting easier around here! I can picture my life without a baby and without all the baby stuff since the majority of it is gone! Then we went to Storyland and found ourselves in this position where Raea was big enough for rides that Maebel wasn't... next year I thought... and in the moment that I looked forward to next year I also felt this burning sensation... There's a baby in my heart and I'm forgetting about it! Then it happened again when we were hiking. "In a few years they can hike from the base to the summit instead of taking the tram" I thought... then my heart echoed back "In a few years?"...
I didn't see this coming. As I'm getting older and my kids are getting older, and the weeds are thinning out... The baby in my heart is starting to fade... and it hurts. It hurts bad. I'm really envious of women who just know they are done... they know they have their forever family and can start to really make plans... Like I've already expressed, you can never know for sure one way or another, but trying to accept the end of one chapter of your life without ever really realizing it was the ending feels... I don't know........it's....... I don't have words but it's a lot of feelings. I didn't know that was the last time I'd be pregnant and the last time I'd feel little baby kicks.....and I didn't even think about it. I didn't know when I rushed Maebel to stop nursing (at 14 months!) that It'd be my last time... I didn't know to take in the smell of a newborn babys head or the softness of that peach fuzz face (I mean, I kinda knew... but I didn't really know! It creeps up on you!). It's so faint now! I can't even remember the last time I was woken up in the middle of the night! ............... (jk, jk, that was last night... "Mommmmmyyyyy I need to go Potttyyyyyy!.... Had to lighten the mood, but you understand).
Maybe it's because I'm finally running well, or maybe it's because we're just in such a groove here that these feelings are shifting. Maybe once Boston is over (more presumptions!) I'll feel different... and that baby in my heart will get louder... I just don't know. I'm in this really tumultuous place... because I can picture it both ways.... which sounds easy... but it's not.... and I think part of that is because I'm standing on the edge of the weeds and the neatly trimmed grass trying to decide where I belong right now.... One thing is for sure... I'm really, really, good at hanging out in the weeds. If there is only one thing in this life I'm confident about it's that I'm a good mom so far... I'm not winning any awards, and I'm not a great wife (laundry is sky high, friends!)... but I'm good at this phase. I'm confident in it... and maybe the rest of parenting (going off to school, riding the bus, homework, hurt feelings, sleep overs, gossip, make up, boyfriends, broken hearts) scares me a little bit...
I guess I have to face the next phase whether I have another baby or not. Raea is growing up so fast and Maebel is right behind her! ... Can't we just stay here forever? So much uncertainty beyond this point! ..... and I suppose that's why I just keep running... because I'm (almost) certain I can do that.
Welcome to my blog! I blogged my entire pregnancy in 2017 and I had high hopes for where I could take my running after baby number 2, but my body had other plans. At some point I got too discouraged to write and recently realized that it is essential for my personal growth and development to keep putting feelings into coherent(ish) thoughts. I still hope to run sub 2:45 in the marathon one day, but for now I’m trying to focus on the process and I’m learning to enjoy it. You can come along for the ride, apologies in advance for grammatical incorrectness!