Today I celebrated Easter with my families. The balancing act of having both sets of families in the same town sounds so much simpler than it really is. Any couple knows the holiday frustration with trying to fit it all in in the span of 6 to 8 hours. You don’t want to miss out on your own family’s festivities, but you want to see your in-laws at the same time. You don’t want to let anyone down, but can’t be in two places at once. You know the second you leave one you’ll miss something hilarious or spectacular and will regret not having stayed 10 minutes longer when you hear the story from your siblings. Raise your hand if you’ve been there? Both of my hands are up, because I’m THAT serious when it comes to time management on these short memorable days.
My in-laws created a massive Easter egg hunt for our 2-year old niece Addisyn in their front yard – 82 eggs, all hidden in spots measuring three feet or lower. So, Nate and I did not want to miss that. We were sure to grab the video camera and got some great footage of this squealing little peanut excited by the grand Disney-like idea that such a generous bunny exists. Squeals of joy followed by squeals of frustration and overstimulation, followed by fussing and finally, naptime. Back to my house where we all lined up to get hair cuts, appetizers, and Easter baskets. Back to the in-laws to dye eggs. Back to my house to sing karaoke and catch up with Grandma. Back to the in-laws to eat lunch. Back to my house to eat lunch (again). By the end of the runaround, I thought my head was going to explode. I enjoyed every minute, but it was straight-up exhausting. No doubt about it. We saw everyone and answered all the same questions a million times: “Can I touch your stomach?” “When are you due?” “Boy or girl?” “How are you feeling?” “Want some wine? Just kidding!” (haha…soooo funny!)
Although I felt relieved that we successfully survived another holiday, I couldn’t brush the feeling of anxiety from the noise and constant conversation, the movement, the dogs, the food, the sugar…the chaos. This year it felt particularly overwhelming. I don’t know if it was the hormones acting irrationally again, or if Baby Brunner was trying to tell me something (ie. “you’re bringing me into THIS!?”), but I just wanted to glue my eyes shut, turn my mind off, and sleep for the rest of eternity. Being pregnant makes everything a little more dramatic. Everything is dolloped with a little extra stress and a light sprinkling of frustration. Balance isn’t your strong point, noise levels seem to blow through the roof, and carrying on two to three straight conversations seems to be a feat of genius level. I wondered, how will this get easier when I’m not just carrying the baby, but I’m actually HOLDING the baby? He’s actually HERE!? He is officially a visible, tangible member of these families? Will life actually feel easier? Or will this sleepy, chaotic irrational feeling linger in me at every family function until his college graduation? I worry. Can you tell?
All this worry came to a screeching halt when I was walking 2-year old Addisyn up the stairs to tell Uncle Nate it was “happy Easter egg time.” I took her hand and we started our sloooow 2-year-old walk up the wooden steps. She was so excited to dye eggs and I swear, she was even more excited to announce it to Uncle Nate. The time was here! Let’s do it NOW! I know she was cruising as fast as her tiny legs would let her, but each stair required one foot, then two foot, breathe, rest, next…one foot, two foot, breathe, rest. The top of that staircase must feel like Everest to that itty-bitty girl, but that wasn’t going to stop her from her mission. Her eyes were huge and her mouth was in the constant shape of an O. You could just see the anticipation building in the way she took each step.
During this walk, I started to think…in one year, I will have my own baby. In two years, I will be WALKING my OWN baby up these very stairs. He will hold my hand. He will be excited to share the news of the Easter bunny with all who will listen. He will be my own little Addisyn. I looked down at her on step five, and had the most random mix of emotions all flood through my body at once. Fear, happiness, joy, apprehension, pride, wonder, distress, doubt. We worked our way up one more stair, and just as my mind took me to that place it doesn’t like to go…that “what if I can’t do this” place…Addi looked up at me, both feet planted firmly into the step, and said “I love you, Nicki.” She said it, with no prompting, no repeating, and maybe no real strong understanding. But, she said it. She said it, and she moved on, determined to get to the top of that mountain. To her, it was just something she said that day. To me, it was the four powerful words that banished those “what ifs” from my head instantaneously.
I know there will always be chaos, especially when it comes to family. There will always be an element of drama, disappointment, disapproval, disdain, dislike, disagreement, and disarray. Holidays will be forever busy, there’s no getting around that. But, no matter the noise level, the company count, or the sugar-highs, there will always be love. Families come pre-packaged with love, and with each new member, it grows and grows and grows. So really, the more relatives you have sitting in your living room carrying on 19 different strange and irrelevent conversations at a volume you’re sure is heard in the southern hemisphere, the more love there is to go around. And, I ask you, why would I not want to bring a child into that much love?
Happy Easter, everyone! I hope yours was equally as beautiful.