I talk a lot about how for years and years and years, we were in the fog of parenting. But just the other day, I was reading another mom's fog and it reminded me how desperate those times were and how desperate they felt. I can tell right away when two people are in the fog now. I can see it in their faces, I can hear it in how they talk, and I now know how normal it is.
Here's the craziest and scariest part, for us, it didn't happen in the beginning. It did not happen with newborns. No, for us, it came on three years in. Just when I thought we were not only safe, but I thought we were invincible. I found myself elated, telling him things like "we made it, we managed to avoid all of the fog." I was so damn cocky. I was so sure we sidestepped all of the crap, and we came out the other side, strong, loving, partners, leaning on each other, doing this incredible dance, it all just fit. And all of that was true, we were, we did, it was as if we were meant to do this, together. Until we started to walk on each other's toes and we no longer had any rhythm of a dance. Until it leveled me, us, what we had, who we were, what I thought we were, who I thought we were. The fog settled around us and we couldn't see each other anymore. We had lost, we were lost, and I thought we were gone.
The fog, for us it lasted for excruciating years. We did eventually figure out why. It all of a sudden all made sense. And you would think that would have fixed it but hell no. It took more years to fight our way back. I kept allowing the fog to cloud my vision, you kept shining a light in my face to have me see you and find you in the mess.
The fog settles at different times, in different ways, for different reasons for different people. The fog makes you deflated, angry, exhausted, resentful, full of contempt, unable to laugh, unable to see. It doesn't last all day every day but when it settles over, it lingers. And most of the days, you lose. You don't have a fighting chance against it. It changes you, it changes how you see your other, it changes how you see your life. It makes it too dark to see clearly so it's covered in gray. The fog makes you want, it makes you think it's greener someplace else. The fog makes you cry, hard. But, if you all hold on to each other, stumble through the mess together, if you go slowly, become more gentle, remember what is on the other side, all of a sudden, it lifts.
You have days that are clearer, you can finally see. You have days with more sunshine, they just feel warmer. You have days with more color, the green is on your side now. You realize how hard that was and how you somehow managed to make it through. I'm no longer cocky enough to think for even one second that the fog won't settle in again. I will no longer proclaim that we managed to avoid anything. Because for some, it doesn't settle in at all. But that is rare, that is not the norm. See, for others, it takes over for a short while, some others longer. And in the long run, all of it is short when you are staring at forever. But it is one of the many secrets of parenting that no one talks about, everyone is hush hush about. The fog is a real thing, it happens and it does not mean you are broken. It does not mean you are in trouble, it means you have walked through the thick of it, it's murky right now, it will once again lift.
What I have learned is that if you are with family, if you find someone you do not want to walk away from, you manage to hold on. You manage to find ways to laugh, you keep talking, you keep searching for each other, you stumble together, but you never let the other person fall. You lose, and it doesn't matter. You keep showing up for each other because you know how worth it all is. You realize this is a blip in your long long life together. You realize so many others are also walking through the fog and you shine lights in their faces too to remind them that this is all very normal. What I have learned is that you figure it out, the dance becomes more and more of the rhythm you know you have. You look across the table and you just smile because you know this is home, this is where your heart has always been, this is where you belong.