Time slipped away on me once more.
I had plans to stretch the construct of time this parental leave, and yet six months has come and gone, leaving me crying by myself in the Tim Horton’s drive-thru. One last leave, I blubber to the employee, as I key in my pin for the three dollar purchase, pulling my hat down to my sunglasses and snatching my purchase from her hands before she recognizes me.
I inhale the honey crueller in its entirety, as any good deceitful mother does, but the sugary film on my unbrushed teeth won’t grant me any satisfaction this time, given the littles are at daycare and school, so nobody is asking me for a piece.
I drive home slowly, the bell of his baby toy jingling to itself across the bumpy country roads. I hit every single pothole. Making my way back home I realize I’ve subconsciously been nesting at home these past weeks. Subconsciously nurturing every last drop of leave.
It’s been a trip, these past months, leaving as abruptly as it came. I’ve learned the highs are so high with three, and the hygiene, so low.
I’ve learned baseball hats are a must, and pants are optional. The number of baby wipe baths I’ve given these past six months are impossible to count. The amount of drive-thrus I’ve pulled through, too, unfathomable. Pizza contains most of the food groups.
There are never too many cups of coffee- those limits don’t apply to mothers of three. There was never a Costco bag of chocolate chips I couldn’t conquer while in the loo.
I didn’t nap once but luckily the baby sucked at naps too, so we kept one another company while running the Netflix circuit. In doing so, I accepted the girls were hot glueing pennies to the dining room table again, or clogging the bathroom sink once more with oil based paints and barbie hair. I gave up on matching socks entirely.
There was a plethora of slime, stuck to sweaty tendrils of toddler pigtails. The clumsy one’s forehead was always bruised. They all had sand in their ear canals and black fingernails.
When I had the gumption we biked, we beached, and often in our pyjamas from two nights before. And the babe was always just there, jiggling on my left hip, and when that gig ran out, on my right breast- the one each of the three all preferred.
So many days were strict survival, and nobody ever thrived all at the same given time. There were always tear stains on someone’s cheeks. But managing three little lives is like that- we let go of the misses and cherish the hits. The house absolutely cannot be clean if the kids are happy.
This parental leave we lived for chunky hip squeeze tickles to hear his little chuckle, and we waltzed to Despacito in the sweaty August sunshine on the front deck, dodging the chicken poo. We camped four times to the sound of campfires crackling and ocean waves crashing, and for now, that has to be enough.
I’m sitting alone at home feeling useless, sipping a coffee that’s still hot, and realizing so much of this parenthood ride is navigating various states of loneliness, whether with or without kids on your side. I’ve lived the past six months wiping alternating bums and keeping more humans than I had hands alive. My husband balanced running a business full time until supper each weekday and building our future home until the sun set seven days a week- neither one of us had it easy and we were both so entirely stretched. Neither one of us would have planned it this way.
And so when everyone and their mother asks about me going back to work already after only six months, I answer yes with a lot of sadness but without hesitancy. Yes, already it is high time to fit myself into our own schedule.
As I sit in a cold house to myself for the first time in forever, I remember feeling this way before. Bouncing back into any form of individuality will surely take more than one doughnut and one double double, but the gains will come. For today, having the time to stare at a wall and come to realize mothers are likely among the majority of the crying customers at the drive-thru, is for me, a win. I’ll take every win I get.