This morning I woke to my youngest son, Eivin, carefully arranging his favorite matchbox cars in a line from my hip to my neck. He’d escaped his bed, gathered his toys and set to work without rousing me. Seeing my eyes open, he grinned broadly and pointed to his handiwork. “Cars!” He exclaimed, before driving the next in the column up from my ankle to its place on my side.
“Yes, cars. But Mama has to go pee.” His face became instantly serious, his finger went to his lips with the command to hush. “Cars.” He insisted. So I held still, curled on my side, while he painstakingly arranged the rest of his collection. I watched his face, so focused on his task, as he worked. My little guy, my baby, almost two years old. Someday he’ll have the face of a man and no interest in turning his mama’s sleeping form into an overpass.
When his interest turned to breakfast, I was free to stretch. It was 6:30, way too early to be up during summer break, but we got up. He wrapped his arm around my neck as we descended the stairs, gleefully flushed the toilet for me moments later. Our second youngest son, Alarik, was asleep on the couch. A peculiarity of his, possibly born of his desire to be a part of every going-on in our household, he’s become a fixture in his favorite spot- my spot- each morning.
Depression has a way of stealing the joy from all the small things, the appreciation of these tiny snapshots in life that are gone in an instant. It’s a thief of purpose, of satisfaction. Anxiety erases contentment and replaces it with a constant overwhelming doubt. So many of these precious moments have been lost to the void of time because I was too sick to appreciate them.
I wish I could go back. I would gather these moments like Eivin collects his favorite cars, and hold them the same way. I would lock them away to be examined when my baby doesn’t need his mama in the same way anymore. I would bless each one in its perfect simplicity instead of being annoyed. I would pause to kiss them more and scold them less. I would marvel over their growth instead of despairing over yet another outgrown pair of shoes. I would cry less and smile so much more. I would react with patience instead of letting my demons steal my children’s joy as well.
I can’t change the past. I can only govern my future, and value each of these beautiful instances that I have left. I can make a conscious choice to shut out those parasites and embrace what has been right in front of me all along. I can choose to be happy instead of letting the sickness run rampant, and along the way, I can choose to embrace the things that really do matter. So today the mountain of clean laundry will sit, unfolded and wrinkling if it wants to, on the couch while I enjoy my rapidly-growing children.