Fifteen months ago, I stood in my Aunt Jo's kitchen and told my mother that she was wrong. I could handle a six week old puppy in a two-bedroom apartment inhabited by my fourteen moth old baby and, what was more, I could handle them both while my husband was gone fifteen hours out of the day and I was spending all my spare time trying to break into a really odd photography market. Then she gave me a look that telepathically said "Hold off on the babies for now, then" and I gave her a look that said "We both know I already have my pre-pregnancy OB appointment scheduled".
She uncrossed her arms, gave an exasperated sigh and said, "It's just going to be really hard."
When I met her eyes, I felt like my chest exploded and, before I could check myself, I blurted out, "I just have so much love to give!" I wanted to laugh at myself so hard because, really, no one I know says such ridiculous things out loud, but we were in the middle of a crowded house and I didn't want to draw attention to our conversation, so I swallowed my laugh- a laugh that would have rung out full of love and hope and all kinds of ridiculous dreams.
My mom is an amazing mom- I'm not trying to gloat when I say she's the definition of a wonderful mother to each of her six children- so I knew that she was trying to help me. But I didn't really want to be helped. I wanted to fulfill all of my dreams right then and there. I had a cute baby and a cute husband and a cute apartment and a degree in a not-so-cute black frame and, by heaven, I was learning how to take control of a camera, too. Andrew and I had less than $2500 to our names (yes- twenty five hundred) and no steady job in sight (for either of us, no matter how much either of us applied all over town), but in a lot of ways, those few months when we first moved to Arkansas were the happiness I have ever been. There were a lot of tears, but there was so much hope between the two of us.
Fast forward fifteen months.
Having a puppy in a small apartment with a baby was ridiculously hard and it got harder once I got pregnant. And having two children? I am bone tired all the time and, more often than not, I end up cleaning our home at three in the morning because it's the only time I have to get everything done. If I'm being totally honest, I feel like I have aged ten years since that afternoon I spent talking to my mom in the kitchen. Luckily, though, Huck isn't my first baby and I know that things will get easier. I'll sleep more, I'll get my waist (mostly) back, I'll learn to manage my time better, and, bit by bit I'll regain the confidence I used to have (for some reason, I am extremely self-conscious in a "no one look at me!" way after having children). I did it before and I'll do it again.
And that love I felt while talking to my mom? The kind that bubble up in my chest and made me want to jump up and down with giddiness? It's still here. It's all around me and it is all around my family, too (super shaggy dog included).