A Thousand Miles

Vacation came, vacation went.

I’ve spent the past few days in the post-getaway rhythm of folding whites, restocking pantries, shaking sand from the car mats. This morning I unpacked my suitcase and returned an unread pile of six books to my nightstand – a welcome reminder that even beloved hobbies pale in comparison to watching pint-sized kids throw fish sticks to the gulls.

The truth is this: our family hasn’t been a family of four in a short while. We’ve been a family of three and one, or two and two, the familiar parent equation that lends itself well to balancing small children with fulfilling work, but leaves little left for much else.

We needed time. Togetherness. Attention, wholly and undivided, if only for a week or two.

Togetherness we were granted, to the tune of thirty-two hours in a minivan. Raffi sing-a-longs and diner eggs, stopping to fuel up at whatever gas station offered the largest grassy knoll for a quick game of tag. There was hotel bed jumping and sand dollar hunting and – fulfilling my every dream imaginable – a rousing Monday night Bingo game at the senior citizen rec center. (Won $35 on a double double, spent it all on snow crab and a margarita.)

We lazed around in the mornings. Played living room baseball at night. We lugged coolers to the shore and ate sandy salami with salty hands. Endless Checkers matches. Rode trikes and bikes and roller blades up and down balconies, sidewalks, to and from the restaurant a mile away with the best peanut butter pie I’ve witnessed yet.

It was all so necessary, this last October inhale, and I found myself dizzied with gratitude more often than not.

Now that I’m home, I find myself feeling a singular shift in a familiar direction. It began tonight with a failure to fall asleep at 6pm, unable to adapt to my old schedule. It began with tossing and turning, throwing hard dreams around a soft pillow. Rising around midnight to chip away at a project bigger than myself, heading back to bed to sneak in a few hours of rest before the kids wake with the sun.

It began with the understanding that a small part of me was waking alongside of them.

I have always known myself to be slow in adjusting to life post-baby. The newborn fog that many mothers describe as a 3-month haze takes upwards of 2 years to burn away for me, and then some.

But I feel it today, a small lifting. The clearing of the sky, the making of a way.

I don’t know if it was the ocean air, or that Scout picked up a hundred phrases between Nashville and Atlanta, or that Bee has been so quietly clearing her own sky for so many months and we’re swelling with pride alongside of her. I don’t know if it was Ken’s warm hand reaching past the middle console for my own, keeping it there through half of Tennessee.

But here it is, fully and finally.

The lifting.

Sometimes, it takes a thousand miles to find what you’d never lost.

  • What a beautiful, heartfelt essay Erin. May I just add how glad I am to know I’m not the only one who took years to come out of the baby haze!

  • So grateful to know the after shocks last long for others, and that they eventually come to rest. Also, that big project: sounds intimidating, but exciting – good luck!

  • Dear Erin,

    I have been reading your blog for a while now – I stumbled upon it by accident and felt your writing was so fresh, “bouncy” and your observations of life were light, honest and I so appreciated your sense of humour about things!

    I look forward to your essays always. Your writing is reserved for my little tea/coffee break in the afternoon at work. Sometimes I take little notes and quotes from your words and jot them down in my journal to munch on later. . .
    Today I felt a bit teary reading your post. I don’t have any children myself (that’s a whole other story), I live in a small town in British Columbia, Canada and have very few things in common with your life, however, so much of what you wrote resonated with me and I was so touched by your observations of rhythms and “fog” and seasons lifting and evolving as they so naturally do. It brought back many amazing childhood memories for me and I wondered if my parents felt the same or looked at our family time together the way you described.

    It reminded me of the feeling when you’ve had your head down and been plugging away at life for a spell and then all of a sudden you sit up and see all of the beautiful changes or progress that has been made:)

    Just wanted to send a warm thank you! (I’ve never responded to a public posting before) –
    From one hard working woman to another – Be well and I look forward to reading more.

    • Hi Sara:

      This was such a beautiful note to receive this morning; thank you so much for taking the time to encourage me in this small space. I can think of no greater gift of writing than for the way we all somehow manage to find pieces of ourselves in another’s words, no matter how different our lives may be.

      Blessings on a lovely day ahead, Sara.

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