Post family vacation I got an e-mail from one of my daughters reporting that two-month old baby, who had exhibited some better sleep nights at the beach, was back with frequent waking to eat after their return home. I feet badly for her, knowing with experience that the irregular sleep patterns are common and to be expected with infants, but feeling the exhaustion she knows — and I remember. It will pass, and life will get better, but the memories, even though they fade, never completely go away. I tell her to try to hold on to the good part of their family exhaustion and too-much time together — that some day they will all look back and laugh about this season of their lives. But for me it was hardly a fun time.
Just before the birth of our second child my husband hit me with his desire to leave his job and relocate to another state. He called it “career advancement and growth.” I saw it is as a setback for me and the girls on many levels. We were happy where we were and wanted to stay and grow in the areas that we had become involved in. Yet despite my protests we took two little girls across the country for two job interviews, the infant at 3 weeks and 6 weeks, approximately… It was awful. I won’t elaborate… I was in a rather vulnerable state and felt duped. At a different season of life I would have likely handled all this much differently.
The location of the first interview I flat out refused to consider, a huge city far away from family and support networks, with an hour and a half commute. Thankfully we settled on the second site, which was acceptable, but still not what I wanted or needed at that stage of life. But the contract was signed, the house put up for sale, which I had to keep in order while tending to the needs of two little girls. I recall many mornings and afternoons during that damp spring when I had to skip quiet naps to hurriedly gather up the baby and her sister and head to a neighbor’s house, park us all out on the backyard swing set, or pile into the van to just drive around while prospective buyers poked through our home. Didn’t make me happy in the least… I felt violated. I was tired. I felt betrayed by my own husband who had promised to help me through rough times, and this was one of them that he was a participant in!
The house sold, another selected, moving day arrived with 100+ degrees, and I remain forever grateful to my sister for coming in to help me with the dismantle of a home and exit from a community that I dearly loved. I cried the entire ten hour drive to our new location. The cat wailed non-stop and scratched in his cardboard travel box. The baby had an ear infection, most uncomfortable and unhappy. But my five-year old daughter was steadfast in her efforts to console the cat and amuse her little sister as they sat in their car seats while I drove through my tears, following my husband in his sports car who in solitude could anticipate his new adventure. I was exhausted and grieving many losses. In retrospect, the timing of this change in our lives was not good for our marriage. It took many years to work through and repair. But we did discover our first ever Cracker Barrel restaurant only forty minutes outside of our new city and thought we struck gold! It was the rainbow after the storm (except for the cat).
As many years have passed since that season of my life, I realize that I keep in focus the beauty of my then five-year old daughter and her efforts in helping to make that long drive tolerable. And as she is now in a season of life that is depleting of her energy reserves I hope that my attempts to assist her are part of her own future memory bank. Thankfully she is not going through relocation at this point in time… But some of the other dynamics are similar.
Anyway, as I have said before, it is really hard raising children, and even harder when you are trying to balance the needs of two parents who are constantly growing and changing. We all have to work very hard at understanding the competing forces and demands among all family members and do all we can to be kind and considerate and helpful to each other through it all. The little things often matter the most. Hold fast to the good memories… Like an awesome five-year old and the sight of our first Cracker Barrel.