With two exceptions, my baby boy was not out of my line of sight for five straight days. Five. Straight. Days. It was equally an act of self-sacrifice and selfishness. Selfishly, I was attending a conference several states away from home, my two year old, and my husband. But, I was also still nursing my baby and was dedicated to sustaining that for his emotional and physical health, despite inconveniences. This meant that the nursling and I traversed the cross-country travel and the conference together.
One exception was when I left him with a friend while I ran downstairs to a cafe to buy some pop. In line and feeling gloriously liberated. I could finally focus more on my surroundings than my offspring. The conversation between the ladies in front of me spilled through their air space and into mine.
“Yea, this’ll be her third kid. She got married young and they’ve just had one after another. I think that’s unhealthy. I’m glad I have my twenties to myself…”
It was so glaringly ironic, I thought I might throw up a little in my mouth. I was 26 at the time and had been a mother to one or more children since I was 23. Standing there without my child for the first time in days, I was the very antithesis of having my twenties “to myself”.
Myself, the one who only made it three years into my twenties before her young body was wracked with stretch marks. Myself, the one who has spent countless nights soothing children and more countless mornings groggily still attending them. Myself, who sometimes cries at the difficulty of it all and dreams of running away.
Myself, the one who has seen and felt first-hand the love a parent lavishes on their child. Myself, who has learned that she must put a vice grip around Grace and never, ever let go. Myself, who learned that she is capable of far more than she ever thought possible. Myself, who sometimes finds it hard to tell where she ends and her family begins.
In a very real sense, I have both lost and found myself in my twenties.