As I sit on a stool watching Meg in the bath – curly blond locks highlighted by the evening sun streaming through the window, and delightfully counting out loud the hazelnuts bobbing about her – I reflect on how much has changed in life.
Meg isn’t yet three. It wasn’t that long ago that it was Rob and I sat in a hot bubbly bath together, or one on the stool with just feet dipped in. On days off we would roll out on our bikes at first light, chase through the lanes, suffer the climbs and share the spectacular views, returning home 60, 70 or perhaps 100 miles or more later. Dirty bike kit stripped off at the door and straight upstairs to share a hot bubble bath, exhausted and exhilarated. The evening left to laze and enjoy the memories of the day.
Oh how I love this man who shares (and probably exceeds) my own desire to be outdoors, to be out cycling and exploring – sometimes in silent company for hour after hour, yet totally connected by the experience, connected by something so strong that I can’t imagine not spending the rest of our lives connected together.
And then we were. We decided to become parents; the ultimate connection, sharing and bond possible.
I should have been more aware of the impact that starting a family would have, but I’d found my soul mate and what could be more appropriate than to extend this further to become a family?
Now, Meg soon to turn three and myself seven months pregnant, I look in the mirror and I know my face is too thin, my eyes look vacant and there is no glow to my skin. I’m anxious about the health and growth of my unborn and utterly exhausted in every way. Yet somehow I’m still acquiring the necessary energy to giggle with Meg as she brings life to her teddies, or to push her in the buggy for essential peacetime to unwind from the busy world that surrounds her. And more energy is needed for the awkward behaviour moments and just the daily run, from getting Meg dressed to making sure there are always clean clothes to do so, cooking and cleaning and shopping and tidying and being organised with appropriate activities. After bath and settling to bed I realise how little consideration I give to myself in the day, and in turn how little I’m giving to my unborn baby. I get consumed by guilt and worry. Tomorrow I must do better.
After getting Meg to sleep, I lay for a while in her room and realise how much I miss my husband, now burdened with working one and a half jobs in order to try to support our family financially, as well as somehow paying honour to his gift and passion for cycling, and swamped under a list of home improvement jobs we simply can’t afford to do. I wonder what time he’ll be home tonight, and when he’s home, will he be going back to work again? Or need to work into early hours at home? The fact is, beyond the daily household chores and leaving out dinner, the man I love probably gets even less of my energy than I do, and can have little left to offer in return too. How can it be that in the pursuit of the ultimate connection we instead find a situation where there’s not enough energy to make it flow.
“Happiness is how we perceive things” he tells me. I’m clearly not in a happy place right now. I’ve got caught on the negative, running on the adrenalin of anxiety, and in emotional chaos. Even with Rob’s insight I have no idea how to turn this around. The only place I feel truly safe is wrapped in his arms, yet opportunity seems to be rarely there since one of us is usually preoccupied with offering this service for our daughter.
I guess we might not get the rest or relaxation we crave for a few years to come, but I know I wouldn’t turn the clock back and not have Meg, or this pregnancy. Meg brings with her a light that makes me believe she is an angel; she’s taught me more in three years than I’d learnt in all those before. I have no doubt that our son will bring equal richness and any suffering now will be easily forgotten. I look back at days when Rob and I cycled together from dawn to dusk and think we were perhaps closer then. But if I look at today I see there is actually more love, commitment and effort being made for each other than ever before. I guess it’s a bit like cycling: family requires strength, but it generates it too, and with that we become better and stronger.
Rob. I love you.