Silly old me that used to be. The one who stayed up late and ate french fries and sour punch straws with the reckless abandon only the 20-somethings can get away with. The one who played music and danced around the house while singing too loudly and off-key. The one my husband probably wonders about, definitely asks about, forcing the new me to search under the couch and behind the beds desperately thinking, “I know I saw her somewhere!”
Where did that girl go? Did she get lost somewhere in the fray between wife-dom and motherhood? Who has even thought to send the search party to find her? She’s certainly wanted, needed… but who cares to look? It’s easy to place blame. To ask “Why don’t you…” But, the thing is, there is no straight answer to that.
I think I dropped a piece that time we argued in the old, tiny apartment where I was in between jobs and learning how to transition from girl to woman the way others made seem so effortless. But I’m not the effortless type. So, a piece chipped off and I was too upset to pick it up. Then, maybe I placed a piece down when I had to move and start a new job in a new place. My hands were full, I needed to unload something… and I just put it down for a second.
I swear! I thought I would remember to pick it up later, but I guess I forgot. I can be forgetful at times.
And then I guess a few pieces were misplaced between having babies, and moving and changing around the idea of what was to become of me now that I was a mother AND a wife. But I couldn’t look for those pieces, I was too busy holding all of the other ones. The ones for my husband and my children. The ones for family and friends. The ones for meals and play dates and road trips. I just kept forgetting her.
But, I do miss her – just as much as you do. The girl in me.
I’ve been finding her in the funniest of places though. I see her a lot in my children. The way she laughed easily and played often. I see her in their curiosity and imagination. I see her in the way they skip and run and roll in the grass. The way they dance like there are no rules to it. And squeal when the cookies have cooled enough to eat.
I see her in my writing. In the books I have found the time to start reading again. I see her sometimes when I’ve had a good run when the heat doesn’t melt her away and the breeze blows just right. She’s different now, but I kind of like her this way.
Some pieces I have found, unchanged and got to put back where they belong. But others have been taken, borrowed and not returned. Some by my children, which I don’t mind that they keep. They’re doing her justice and she looks so good on them. Some my husband keeps in a box somewhere, and men are notoriously bad at finding things. But she longs to be found if he could find the time to look. But he lost some pieces himself, so it’s difficult.
Because, you see, my hands are full. I’m carrying a lot. And I have to find the right colored bracelet, and the bunny, and that tiny piece to the thing that goes to the other thing the older one never wanted to play with before, but now suddenly does. I have to wash the clothes, because one of the pieces that is in the children likes to get dirty. And then, I have to make sure they eat so they and she doesn’t starve. I do try to nurture her, but I’m sharing her… she’s not all mine anymore. Some parts are at the mercy of those who are holding her.
But I’m OK that I have to share her. It’s just difficult sometimes to feel like the pieces I’ve kept aren’t quite the ones you like. Or maybe you’ve grown tired of them… it’s OK, I understand. I’m tired too.
There are pieces I miss – not just from that girl. But I guess empathy is a piece I’ve kept and not shared. So maybe that sentiment comes more easily for me. I’ve consciously kept the pieces I knew I would need for the boo boos, and the monsters and the bedtime stories. For the stressful days at work and the dreaded potty. I had to keep the necessary pieces, so I had to put down a lot of the silly ones, the sexy ones, the funny ones.
It was with the best intentions, I promise you that!
But, because my hands are full, I’m going to need some help to find the pieces. The ones the girls didn’t need and left under the toy box or in the flowerbed. The ones you kept and just can’t find the time to look for.
Because even though I like the pieces I have found, I want you to like her too. Because I no longer have the piece that shuts out the opinions of others. I put that piece down deliberately, the first piece to go, when I met the boy with the dark hair and the sing-song voice.