“Reentry”...it's such a rugged word! I’m not referring to the version of “rugged” that’s most often used to describe something as being (extra) manly, with a GQ(ish) stubbly chin and a plaid flannel shirt, stretched tightly over upper body muscles, that threaten to burst seams and loosen buttons while this “rugged” guy chops heaps and heaps of wood aimlessly. OH- NO, sister! We’re talking rugged as in space-travel reentry, rugged.
A slough of other, less than lovely, descriptors scamper along supportively through my mind when I think of rugged, as in 'barreling through the atmosphere'. None of which could EVER be classified as lovely. The words rough, bumpy, awkward, painful, uncomfortable, hot, miserable, potentially lethal, etc., come to mind. Now you’re seeing it, right?! Reentry...ick!
So, let’s pretend, for a minute, that the moon, outer space or the great beyond, represent my family’s most recent vacation. It was tremendous! It was amazing! I can't wait to share all about it! We discovered new lands, blazed new trails. We met new people and enjoyed many old ones. We deeply loved EVERY second of it. Truthfully, we didn’t want our Smith family adventure to end, but it had to end. The job and our house and our scheduled return flight, all beckoned us back to reality.
Now we’re re-entering normal life. No more vacation living and reentry hurts! Rather than bumping through earth’s atmosphere the way astronauts do, we’re verbally and emotionally colliding with one another and all our intense relational friction is setting us a blaze.
We’re physically exhausted and emotionally thin. We’re weepy and gristly, not to mention a little sickly. Oddly, I didn’t see the trauma of reentry coming. Maybe I didn’t anticipate it because we don’t vacation often and morning number one of reentry, started off just fine...famous last words, right?!
Morning one started something like this: I got up and started some coffee. My three older kids happily watched a movie and my littlest joy wanted a bath. Piece of cake...at least it should have been.
I happily sipped coffee and fed bites of banana to my bathing beauty while she played with her dress-up bath-toy sponge people. I stepped out of the bathroom for mere minutes (2...maybe), to pop an English muffin into the toaster. I returned to the bathroom to find a guilty little face and a foul confession, “I pooped in my bath”.
Yes, I've written about this same little one’s terrible and traumatizing (for me) poop-capades once before. This sort of thing doesn’t happen often in our family. My first EVER foul encounter was when my oldest daughter was only one. After that, a long, long bath + poop dry spell was ushered in. We didn’t experience another bath issue until this very year; 2 girls later. So, this morning Nyla blessed her bath for a second time. It doesn’t really matter how scrumptious a kid is (and she's really quite scrumptious), bath time blessings (poops) are ALWAYS awful and wrong!
The morning crumbled from there...
My once content older kids transformed into trolls as arguments picked up where their movie left off. They fought over what to watch next and who should choose. Each grizzly child abrasively argued their case and then communication devolved further with fights over who should have choosing authority. Unity vanished and a once clean tub of bath water was replaced with gallons and gallons of bleach water.
I can’t help but wish, as I stare at our tub full of sanitizing solution, for a way to sanitize my kids’ interactions with one another. Obviously bleach water is NOT an appropriate cure for all my woes, but wouldn't it be sooo lovely if there were such a thing as a relationship fixer/cleaner spritzer?! I know I can't be the first mama to imagine the bliss of that possibility. With just a few squirts all the storm clouds would vanish and the negativity and grouchiness would be swapped with sweetness. For now, Mario Kart seems to be doing the trick (well enough), but I know the Wii is just a diversion.
So, to all you mom’s who have felt, or are feeling, the unpleasantness of “reentry”, I get it!! I 100% sympathize. There’s one thing that comforts me on days like these; it’s the knowledge that it won’t last forever! This relieving reality also occasionally turns on me and brings me to premature mourning over the loss of my young family...as if it’s nearly all gone and slipping from my grasp like a vain attempt to hold water in my hands.
Quick side note to all the sweet, precious grannies out there, who comb supermarket aisles looking for frazzled mamas (like myself). I know how you love to impart nostalgic wisdom like, “Enjoy these moments, because they’ll be gone before you know it.”, I have to have to confess...in the midst of the mess and the crazy, with my hair flying everywhere and my mascara puddling under my right eye (the way it unexplainably does), as my kids scatter in four different directions while I attempt to checkout, your wisdom (and it truly is wisdom) feels a bit like a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
Oh how I wish I could bottle the wonderful pieces of parenthood and simply liberate myself from the awful(ish) parts; sorta like a moment by moment version of 'catch and release'. I’d hold onto that perfect evening last week full of Midwest wonder and fireflies and release the bulk of today.
Still, reentry woes and all, I LOVE my crazy, messy, life and wouldn’t trade it for another. I hope you feel the same way.
Writer and fellow traveler on the road of life.