Perspective on parenthood. And tears.

I bought a magazine yesterday. The kind filled with fall fashion trends and the newest beauty products promising to erase wrinkles and the circles under my eyes. I haven’t bought a (non-parenting) magazine in years. Okay, maybe two years. I love fashion. I love beauty products. I love wrinkle-free skin and eyes that don’t need concealer. And Hollywood Gossip! Who doesn’t love that? I daydream of curling up in bed after the kids are asleep to delve into the glossies, to feel their slippery pages between my fingers and relish in all the wisdom they have to bestow upon me. The problem is that my eyes begin to close before I even open the cover, so I put it on the nightstand where it will remain until I deem it too outdated to read anyway and toss it into the recycle bin. All of this is to say I’m so tired. All the time. And I anticipate being tired for the next decade or so.

Last week the kids were sick. One by one, they came down with colds and fevers. It was the same week that Zach spent a gazillion hours at work. I spent most of my time walking around with a half-sleeping baby in my arms, burning forehead pressed into the crook of my neck, snot oozing down his upper lip until he smeared it across my skin. It didn’t hit Mia until the weekend, and by then my back ached, my muscles were sore, and I felt more resentment toward her than empathy. Just take the medicine, I hissed. Sip, gag, sip, gag. She hated me more with every tiny sip from the plastic cup. I’m only a little ashamed to admit that I cried myself to sleep one night, dreading the morning to come. Of having to do it all over again. Whatever happened to taking care of me? Of washing my face and flossing my teeth? Of wearing clothes without holes and spit-up stains? Of eating a meal that consisted of more than mac and cheese leftovers and apple slices? I was feeling sorry for myself, yes.

And then this happened.

Yesterday I got the news that a dear friend of mine lost her baby in utero. This was her first baby, due in December. There were no reasons, no answers. Just gone.

I spent the rest of the day crying, feeling a rage burning at the injustice of it, unable to concentrate on anything other than the nuts and bolts of the day. I thought back to the week before, of how tired I was, how close to the breaking point I was, how I longed for sleep. And maybe because we’re past that now, but this is what I remember most: Luke, awake, feverish and stuffy in the middle of the night laying on my chest as we stared up at the moon. Wyatt, sweaty curls pressed to my skin, his tiny fingernails trailing up and down my arm. Mia, curled into a ball in her bed, a washcloth damp on her forehead, as she watched Caillou on my Kindle until she could fall asleep. And all of it awash in lullaby music, night lights and the blue haze of twilight.

My friend doesn’t know half of what she’s missing. And that is a blessing.