I woke up feeling that feeling. You may know the one. It’s like your mind and body are preparing for a worst-case scenario situation … for no reason at all.
I checked on the boys. They were fine. I checked on dad. He was fine. My mother-in-law was fine and a bit insulted that I thought if she weren’t fine, I could handle the problem. Jay was fine. I checked the calendar hanging inside the pantry. I didn’t forget about a practice, rehearsal, or well-child checkup. In fact, that calendar, once covered with hand-scribbled reminders for each date, now has two notes for dad’s upcoming doctor appointments. I couldn’t find a rational reason as to why or where it was coming from.
Lately, when this happens, I take advice from experts I’ve found, all thanks to my TikTok algorithm.
Per Brene Brown, I feel the feelings.
Per Mel Robbins, I recognize the tension I’m feeling is an alarm from my inner child. I then deal with that little brat.
Per Mr. Rogers, if it’s mentionable, it’s manageable. The only problem is I don’t know what the problem is. He didn’t say what to do if your mentionable is well unmentionable.
On this day, though, there was no time. I had things to do and people to see. Since I know this feeling well, I knew there weren’t enough hours to have a mini-meltdown and get to a baby shower by 10 a.m.
Plus, I’d prefer showing up to said baby shower without mascara running down my face … a likely side effect from the work I need to do, according to Brene’ and Mel.
There is nothing like a baby shower to bring you out of feeling blue. It’s the decorations, the games, the gifts, the premium snacks, and the solitary reason for attending parties … the cake. You get to focus on someone else, in this case, the mom-to-be and her family.
After filling our plates with offerings from the well-presented buffet, everyone sat down to catch up. The mother of the mother-to-be sat next to me.
We fell fast into easy conversation. She was so excited. She talked about how proud she was of her daughter and how fun the preparations had been. She told me about her kids, and I told her about mine. It was the kind of conversation that made me wonder, “Should I ask if we can be friends, or is that weird at my age?” Before I could answer, “Yes, that is weird,” my new friend said, “I’ve been so emotional, especially today. I’m not sure why.”
It was her first grandchild. It made sense.
I wanted to say, “Me too. I feel the same way, but for a different reason. You see, I miss my kids. My husband misses our kids too. We’re empty-nesters now, and I’m not sure how this is supposed to feel. Some friends tell us, ‘You will love it. Everything about empty-nesting is perfection. Others say, ‘It’s horrible. We miss them. We can’t eat. We can’t sleep.’ It’s different for us. We miss them, but I’m not sure they miss us. If they do, it’s not debilitating, which is good. I’m so confused. What do you think”
I decided against putting my crazy on display on what was the friendship equivalent of a first date.
So instead, I listened. This wasn’t about me. And I didn’t want to cry. The tears were there waiting. If I started crying, I would apologize for crying. Then, I would explain that I should have listened to Mel and Brene’ and done the work before showing up to a baby shower that I was now ruining.
Soon, it was time to open presents. The guests looked on as the mom-to-be carefully unwrapped each box while collective ohs and ahs became the party’s background music. Each gift was more impressive than the last. Many reminisced about their own children and the primitive-looking supplies they used compared to today’s high-tech gadgets.
A vibrating bassinet was the wave of the future when Jackson was a newborn. At the time, I couldn’t imagine anything cooler or more modern until a few days ago. I saw my teeny-tiny niece resting peacefully in a Mamaroo.
“It’s supposed to mimic what it feels like when we hold her,” my nephew said. If you didn’t see the arm attached to the base, it looked like she was floating. If you watched long enough, the slow circling motion might also lull you to sleep … genius.
Soon, it was time to go. The guest-of-honor stood near the door, thanking, hugging, and even taking photos with guests as they prepared to leave. I remember what it felt like to be where she’s at, the excitement and exhaustion leading up to the big day. Then, it’s the real exhaustion that comes after.
It seems like they will be small forever. It feels like your body will never be the same. Spoiler alert, it won’t, especially your heart. She will find this out in due time. She’ll have a pantry calendar full of hand-scribbled reminders for ball practice, sports physicals, and parent-teacher conferences.
Then, one day, that calendar starts to look different. Eventually, she’ll realize that her grown children’s new beginnings signal new beginnings for her and her husband too. And the open dates on that pantry calendar has just enough space to hand-scribble well-deserved new adventures for them.
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