(Photos from my Instagram)
I was thinking this morning, in the half-formed thoughts I can manage while playing with my daughter, about all the things I have lost and gained in the past 21 months of motherhood. My mind seesawed all day.
I have lost poetry, the words that once hummed behind my ears. I’ve gained moments of mindfulness and stillness, as I’ve nursed and played and comforted. I’ve lost song lyrics, whole albums, that I once knew by heart. I’ve gained (sometimes regained) the simple songs and made-up silly songs she loves. I’ve lost reading complex books. I’ve gained picture books from authors I never knew and the comfort of repeating the same words, over and over.
I have lost sleep, hours and hours of sleep, that I’ll never regain. I’ve gained quiet moments at midnight and two a.m., when she reaches towards me in her sleep. I’ve lost free time, save for one hour in the morning and one hour at night. I’ve gained a little girl who wants to spend every living breathing moment with me. I’ve gained the wholeness of our family. I’ve lost that part of my brain that holds short term memory. I have lost (and found) keys, my cell phone, the cat’s medicine, the grocery list. I’ve gained a happy mess of a life, where my every day objects are now nothing more than potential toys, potential tools for learning.
I have lost that last vestige of modesty. I have gained an appreciation for this lumpy body that creates and sustains life. I’m sure I’ve lost youth, more than my share in a year and a half. I’ve gained handfuls of gray hairs, a soft belly, new bags under my eyes. I’ve gained a daughter who wants, more than anything to be like Mommy and to have Mommy be just like her. I’ve lost my old definition of beauty. I’m still gaining a new one.
I wish I had lost the need to tally, to measure where I stand in comparison to all of my past lives. Every choice I’ve made has come with losses and gains, with sacrifices and unexpected miracles. But this most recent and dramatic change has left me raw and new, even these 21 months later. I don’t know when I’ll stop counting.