The alarm sounds. I roll over and press snooze, turning back to snuggle Sophie. I press my hand against the bare spot on our bed. Alex got up an hour ago and is off at the gym, pounding his body into submission. How I miss seeing him working out beside me, our bodies synced with our advanced movements. I miss the bright sweep of his tattoo, the thick, muscular cut of his legs, the sweat beading at his brow, the kiss we would steal between sets. One day. One day we will be there again.
I stare down at my sleeping angel, who by this point, is either grunting to relieve gas or is sound asleep. How can such a little person fart so loud? Grunt so strongly? Or move with such conviction? Already she has announced her place in this world – and it is a lasting impression.
I slip from the bed and quickly dress, packing my water bottle and workout scribbled on a postcard into my boxing bag. I head back to our room and lay down, lifting my shirt to offer my daughter food. She nurses until I hear Alex come home. It is my turn to head to the gym. I yawn and stumble down the stairs, a banana in hand, eager to tackle my favorite part of the day, but longing for more sleep just the same.
At the gym, I bypass mirrors, simultaneously liking what I see and being frustrated by the still small pooch of my stomach and the purple stretch marks that popped up during the last weeks of pregnancy – a small, direct line above and below my belly button. Somewhere there is a glimmer of my old self as I do hip escapes, burpees and get ups off the wall. I turn my iPod louder and get lost in the music. I have officially been “cleared” to work out. I want to do it all and do it vehemently, but I am trying to pace myself.
At home, I make my VEGA ONE shake, piling it with oats, blackstrap molasses, kale, spinach, strawberries and spirulina. I kiss my angel, hop in the shower and feed her again. Alex kisses me goodbye. It is a powerful kiss, one that leaves my knees week, even though I am sitting down.
I sit on the couch with my daughter as she nurses and falls asleep. I think about the tasks to tackle for the day. Some TV show blares in the background. Once she is asleep, I pop her in her little vibrating chair and get dressed. I return emails. I turn on music. I pick up the house. I long to sit and write fiction – something I’ve been gravitating to more and more lately – but there doesn’t seem to be enough time.
Gathering Sophie in her car seat, we head down to the car where I remove her stroller from the trunk. We walk the short ten minutes to the UPS store. I close my eyes for a moment, wondering what unblemished sidewalks and big, swaying trees might be like; the chirp of a bird instead of the screeching whir of frantic cars careening down the highway. The dirt sticks to my feet, which are bare in flipflops. My skirt gathers the grit from these city streets like a dust pan. Cars honk. Bikers swerve. The city’s noise is a cacophony I cannot quiet. And yet, Sophie sleeps soundly as I manhandle her stroller and gently avoid potholes, hoisting her up and down over curbs and broken glass.
Errands become odd with a baby. At the store, I must gather all the necessities in a single bag hanging from her stroller handle. Careful, because if it gets too full, it will tip over and will take my baby with it. I am a juggling act as I hoist her car seat, jugs of water, groceries and myself up the two flights of stairs into our apartment. I change her, set her down, pick her up again. The groceries can wait. I live for this little girl’s smile.
The day passes in a blur. The heat blazes. I make phone calls, trying to jazz myself up to return to the “real” world at large. Questions abound: What articles are you writing? What book are you working on? What are you doing to promote a social media presence? Why aren’t you good at using Twitter? What are you doing t0 promote yourself and build your platform?
Yet all I want to do is mother Sophie. All I want to do is kiss her sweet cheeks and take naps with her and comb her hair and read a good book and laugh and pounce on my husband. I want to vacation in a lake house that we have built with our bare hands. I want to dip my daughter in the freshest, clearest water and watch her splash around. I want to wake up early, make a pot of coffee and drink it while staring out at the calm, clear day. I want to write. I want to cook good food. I want to laugh until I can’t breathe.
How I am so filled with desire for such ordinary things.
The day crescendos. What will we make for dinner? What television shows will be on tonight? Do I get excited for these things? Yes. Yes, I do. Because it will be me, curled up with my family, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I won’t always feel like this… this simplicity will give way to more pressing things. I will still want to accomplish feats just as fiercely as ever – but not now. Not today.
For this moment, I want to accomplish being a good mother; loving my family; listening to them, being positive, and enjoying them every second I can. No job is too important for that. No bill too steep.
These moments are fleeting, and yet I am capturing them. I am holding them. I am owning them.
Their weight presses into my hands. I hold them, I lift them up, I memorize.
Today is beautiful.
And it’s mine.