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“You’re going to look up and she’ll be grown.”

“Just wait until you have one in college!”

“My oldest is your age!”

Yeah. I know. But our aging children, our aging selves is not a competition. It’s a journey.

And my journey right now involves a 13 year old girl, with all kinds of possibilities before her. And her 35 year old mom, who is still learning about what it means to be an adult. 

I don’t talk about it much. Actually, I don’t talk about it at all, but had I carried my first child to term, they would be 18 this year. A senior in high school. And come September, I will think about that even more. As I do every year on what was to be my due date. 

Had that all come to pass, I don’t even know if I would have had Reagan. That, in and of itself, is a very heavy contemplation. 

Reagan was born when I was 21. That’s a young age to have children. But not as young as 17. 

I’ve made no secret of how in love I am with my child. How she basically rescued me from myself. But the first few years of her life were fraught with the turmoil in my own that involved an unhealthy marriage and its aftermath. 

I can remember some things about when she was a baby, but I was so busy. Trying to keep my own head above water. I missed a lot because I wasn’t paying attention.

It’s taken me a lot of years to forgive myself for mistakes I made early in my adulthood. And you never quite get over “divorce guilt”. The constant “what if’s” and “could have beens”. But life goes on and you can either dwell on the past, or live in the present. 

I’ve made some stupid decisions in my life, done things I regret. But I am not capable of regretting my children. The one I have, and the one I lost.

When I go through the baby aisles of a store, my heart strings sometimes pull until they want to snap. I can’t get those days back with Reagan. I’ll never have those days again. 

And so I spoil her. Not with “stuff”. Okay, sometimes, with stuff. But lately, I’ve realized, I just want to spoil her with time. 

We’ve stayed out into the wee hours of the weekend two weeks in a row. I have a lot I could be doing. Probably should be doing. But nothing will replace these moments I have with her, right now, in these precious years where she’s discovering who she is.

She’s changing, every day, every moment, right in front of my very eyes. I’ve gone from having to do everything for this child to having to do so little. From being able to make everything okay with just a kiss, to not always being able to soothe her fears, give her definite answers, or make certain decisions for her. We’re both still growing, learning, evolving. 

Yeah. I know I’ll look up one day and she’ll be grown. But right now, she’s not quite there. And I’m doing my best to pay attention. 

There’s a lot of things I can’t give to her, but I can give her time. Memories. Myself.

I talk a lot on this blog about balance. That work/family/personal balance. It’s next to impossible to find sometimes. I struggle with it constantly. 

There are days, like today, that I just want to crawl back into bed and not deal. With life. With relationships. With work. With anything. Giving of oneself to anything without personal time to really rest is a recipe for disaster, or, in my case, depression.

In May, following months of stress and overload, I had a mental crash that lasted several weeks. It was, perhaps, one of the worst cycles of depression I had experienced in close to 20 years. 

I live in fear now of returning to that place. I’m no good to anybody there, most of all, myself. Living with a mind like mine means paying attention to me. Paying attention to what my triggers are, and doing the things that are necessary to stay out of the pit. 

That requires effort. Discipline. And when life is whirling around me so fast, like it has been the last couple of months, I often feel good if I’ve simply made it through the day with just a few scrapes and stumbles. 

There are things that I’ve been neglecting for too long. My own personal health, for one. Bad habits are so easy to continue. Good ones, so difficult to implement. There never seems to be enough time. 

I often fill my days with so much activity and work that I don’t have the opportunity to just stop. Breathe. And focus. On me. What I need. 

Even as I sat here, before I’ve even finished my second cup of coffee, writing this post, I’ve already gotten a text from someone needing something for work. 

I was on the phone with someone else, work related, 2 hours after I got home last night. 

*I stopped writing here, around 7:00 a.m. and pick up again, as I just got home from work and the grocery store at 9:14 p.m.

So, back to what I was saying….

I wish there was some protocol I could follow. Some outline of how to do work/family/self and not feel like I was neglecting something important by focusing on one. 

I’m still figuring it out. But I’m paying attention. Even if it eventually knocks me back in that pit. I’m trying. Just trying to pay attention.