6 weeks ago I planted a little garden bed of spinach seeds with my 2-year-old. We came out every morning together for weeks, watching their tiny green heads poke out of the soil and grow each day. We watered them together and I smiled every time I heard Harper’s high-pitched voice from the patio “MUMMAY! COME LOOK AT OUR SEEEEEDS!” with the utmost excitement. A few days ago we started picking and eating our first spinach leaves. Pure JOY I tell you.
When I woke up this morning I made my way out to the patio to water the plants and I noticed it - my little spinach garden, completely bare. The spinach plants were gone, the soil slightly upturned. Apart from the obvious question that popped into my mind “What HAPPENED?!”, I was a little taken back by how many big emotions flooded into me.
For the past few days I’ve felt my mood sinking a little each day… I’ve felt tired, not so much in my body, but in my mind. For anyone who really knows me, they will testify to how much of a true introvert I am. Having 3 other humans in my space pretty much 24/7 has been a MASSIVE adjustment to my single and even newly-married self. I’m the kind of person who just never gets sick of my own company. It’s not that I don’t love being around people too, but after a while of socializing, I tend to feel pretty depleted and need my space again. But the longer I’m alone, the more creative, more productive and more relaxed I become. I spent the better part of my career pre-kids (music and film-making) hanging out with little old me 10 hours a day, 5 days a week. And I loved every minute of it.
Fast forward to the craziness of baby/toddler season where I’m NEEDED pretty much all the time. Eden’s done a poo. Harper stole Eden’s toy, then pushed her over and now she’s crying. Ross is running late for work and needs lunch made and packed 5 minutes ago. Harper’s wet his pants again. And he’s run out of undies. And while I was trying to find new undies, Eden power-waddled into the toilet to seize the one moment she finally gets to touch the inside of the toilet bowl that Harper didn’t flush. Yes, this is my new daily life. And yes, despite these things, I do feel incredibly blessed most of the time.
So, back to my spinach tragedy. Looking down at the garden bed with eyes like saucers, I asked anyone and everyone in the nearest vicinity, “WHAT HAPPENED?!?!?!?!” Ross concluded that it must have been birds. Very unconvinced, my eyes darted across the patio to what I can only describe as a heart-wrenching sight. Harper’s little cooking pot from his sandpit, sitting quietly on the concrete, full of water and a distressing amount of swimming spinach, roots and all.
“Daddy was dill hungwy so I made him some nuch (lunch)”
And that was it. I just snapped. All these big emotions crashed down on me like a waterfall and I just went inside and cried.
I was angry and sad and frustrated and tired and I wanted to run away or throw something. I wanted someone to blame for all those big feelings but I couldn’t blame my imaginative 2-year-old and I couldn’t blame my bird-condemning husband. If blame was to be taken, it should have been taken by me for leaving my garden bed within reach of my little boy.
For the rest of today I’ve been realizing that this spinach tragedy hit me in my sore spot. It wasn’t really about the spinach. I can grow more spinach. But I’m thinking and feeling things I’ve heard countless mothers express before me.
Nothing is my own anymore.
Nothing is my own. Not my time, my space, my sleep, my things. Not my spinach. And it hurts. It’s hard. It’s not what I’m used to. It’s a slow, drawn out process of learning to let go and become a new version of me. It’s not about me anymore, and I need to become ok with that. And I think I am - painfully, inconveniently, slowly.
This afternoon I accepted the fact that I feel depleted and need to recharge again. I’m so thankful for a supportive, loving husband who encourages me to get out on my own to have some me-time. Time where nobody is pulling at my legs and squealing to be picked up or held or fed or nurtured. Time where I can drink a WHOLE cup of tea, while it’s hot. Time where my thoughts can be free to run their course (without 195 interruptions), time to process this stage of life I’m in and find the peace that I need so badly to be able to keep going and be the mother/wife/sister/daughter/friend that my loved ones need me to be.
And as for the spinach plants, I don’t yet know their fate… after I pulled myself together, they were carefully replanted back in the garden bed and who knows, maybe they’ll be alright. Perhaps the things that feel broken or ruined or dead just need a chance to grow again. Perhaps the parts of me that can feel broken or ruined in these moments just need a chance to grow again.
Motherhood is crazy. You don’t get a medal at the end of every day for being some sort of superhero. You don’t get a Certificate of Achievement to hang on the wall for all that you give and pour out on your people and I guess that’s the point isn’t it – you learn to love and give relentlessly, at any given hour, regardless of the return. Just like Jesus. I’m glad I’m on that journey, despite how it feels on days like today.
Are you feeling depleted? Do you feel as though your tank has hit empty and you’ve been ignoring that flashing fuel light? I encourage you, if at all possible, find someone who can take care of your things for a few hours while you go and recharge and fill up again. Re-plant those sad looking spinach plants and see if you can nurture those broken parts to grow again.