I remind myself often how fortunate we are. We have are healthy, and holy cow do I know how lucky that makes us. All of my people are accounted for. Some days, however, are just hard, no matter the gratitude I feel every single day. Today was one of those days. Last week had a couple of them, too. My little family is just struggling to move forward. I feel stuck in place, like everyone else is moving, running, dancing around us. And it isn't jealousy I feel when I watch other people pushing forward in their own world, that's not quite it. Yes, of course, I'm jealous of people who have jobs they can count on, work they love, plans for the future. But I know, I'm sure of it, that nothing is as easy at it looks. Everyone works hard, worries about supporting their family, performs acrobatics to juggle all the competing demands. I might, at first glance, feel a pang when I see the stability that other people have, but there are so many details that are invisible to me. There is stress in everyone's world, certainly not just ours.
Sometimes all it takes for me to relax, to take a deep breath, is to remember that we have a plan. Our plan still needs a lot of tweaking, but it's there nonetheless. It gives me hope, a chance to make lists, a reason to look ahead. Our plan is filled with jobs and growing children, and (fingers extra crossed) maybe even the chance to return to school for something I'm passionate about. Will we be rich? Probably never, but maybe we will find some security one day. We certainly have a new perspective on saving (translation: start saving). I like our plan. But at the end of another week where I've watched my talented and capable husband apply for job after job with no lead, no interview, the plan doesn't offer enough comfort. I want to stand on the rooftops and yell at the world. I want someone to reach out to him and say yes, we see your potential. Because I see it.
Most days The Children make us laugh enough to take the edge off all this worry. Shira woke up this week having grown up into an adult baby. She has sprouted these long legs and arms that reach out in every direction and most days I don't recognize my little one. Not until she snuggles into my lap for more milk, that is. I watch her, especially on the days when Alyce is at school, and I see how she's making room for herself in our family. She is no longer Baby Shira, no longer the silent partner. I wonder if my expectations for Shira are different than those for her big sister. Do I treat her differently because she is the baby? Probably. But so much of parenting Alyce at this age is such a blur, that I can't even compare. That's for the best, I think. Shira can handle this one all on her own.
Do you know that Shira cups my face every morning when she sees me, planting kisses on my face as though it were a full-contact sport? Have I told you that she likes eggs for breakfast, but not oatmeal? That she's terrified by the sound of trains, but likes to taunt the dog by roaring like a dragon? Alyce is already big enough to tell me that she would like to be a princess, an artist, a chef, and an astronaut when she grows up (this morning she added pirate to her list, even making plans to attend Pirate University, where, she informed me, she would learn to say Arrrrrgh, I'm a pirate and how to look for treasure). I wonder how Shira will answer these questions in a few years?
Alyce is handling all these unknowns is our world with her usual glee. Yesterday she read her first book. As in read the words on the page. As in I am still grinning from ear to ear having seen the look of pride she wore when I said, Alyce, you're reading! I am so proud of her, so excited that the world has opened up to her in an entirely new way. Yes, for now she is slowly reading tiny sentences about an elephant who likes flowers, but these are the tiny steps that will lead her to The Secret Garden, Harry Potter, and, when she's old enough, Bossypants. I tried not to overwhelm her with my giddiness.
Fortunately, for everyone involved, there are many good things in our world. It's all part of the plan.