A change in seasons always gives me pause.
Last week, Fall made his appearance. At once invigorating and violating, in he strode- an overly confident gentleman at a casual get together. His entrance can’t be missed, and his exit is anticipated simply for the event it promises. Even if you don’t like him, you can’t help but take notice.
In any case, it was chilly this week.
I loved it, as I’m secretly amused by that annoyingly arrogant gentleman, and I thought then (in my pause) that the weather well reflects my personal universe as of late.
When Eliza left the newborn phase, and entered our lives for real, it was like the ground beneath my feet relocated. All of a sudden the reality of two babies 15 months apart set in. Two in diapers. Two without words. Two that can’t follow behind at the store, down the driveway, to the park… One that’s nursing, and another who still needs hosing down after every bite.
Like I always do (initially), I panicked. I cried; I screamed a little, lost my patience a lot, and quickly, quite simply- got
Before I realized it, I couldn’t get a handle on where I was inside myself. Who was this crazy lady walking around my house crying, losing things, forgetting things- everything?
Matt was the first to say it:
maybe you’re pregnant
And if I wasn’t panicked before, hysterical took on new meaning. I was as terrified as I’ve ever been. All I could think was- 4… 4 at home under 4 yrs old…4 to dress, to bathe, to feed, to put to bed each night. 4 when 3 was impossible. 4 …
For almost three weeks we waited with bated breath. We were certain this must be it; it explained everything. But, with every negative test we got more confused… If this wasn’t pregnant, what was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I remember anything- I mean anything? Why was I so emotional, so confused, so- it had to be said-
That was what I was really feeling- so entirely overwhelmed- like I was cowering at the daunting tasks that are Mothering. I can’t say I’m new to cowering., but I’m not normally so slow to find my courage.
Matt was patient (has he ever been anything else?); he was kind, and gentle. But I could tell he, too, was shell-shocked by my complete insanity. Maybe he’s telling the truth, and he never thought it silently, but the idea reverberated on the walls of my mind: “Is this what happened to my mom? Am I going to be crazy, too?”
Matt said I wasn’t her, didn’t have to be her, that I could choose something different. I wasn’t sure I believed him, but even before the blood test to confirm there was no pregnancy (it was negative of course), I started excavation on my soul. I carved out minutes, hours, mornings, and afternoons that could be mine for the healing it was clear needed to happen.
I prayed and studied with a desperate intensity I haven’t felt since before I was married (this time often interrupted by the needs of hungry, tired, or simply bored little people), using the materials as brushes for dusting. The more I read, the more of my spirit I found. With every article, scripture verse, conference talk, I felt my sanity emerge.
First was Nephi’s crisis of confidence– his battle to overcome the darkness of inadequacy. His remarks, “Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul” emboldened me, and I began to know I could fight.
From there I referenced the trust and peace Nephi spoke of; I read in Proverbs to “trust” in the Lord, and similarly, the counsel from King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon to believe in God’s plan for me.
I read Elder Uchtdorf’s message to priesthood holders about priorities, and thought perhaps mine needed adjustment.
After days of study and prayer, my work went faster. No longer feeling as if I were merely dusting, now I felt I was digging. I began to apply the lessons I was reading, and there- there they were- pieces of myself I’d carelessly left behind to be covered in the storm of my hectic life.
Together, Matt and I carefully chiseled our lives for balance (a practice not altogether unfamiliar to us, as I seem to have a knack for getting in over my head). We began with the calendar, and I poured over my schedule at home, recording the events of my day minute by minute searching for my failures.
But the revelations were many, and the failures were few.
When we counted seventeen church meetings in September, they were quickly identified as unecessary debris, and became the first targets for removal. More than a few were rescheduled, postponed, or combined.
As I sifted through the chaos of my days, instead of failures I discovered unreasonable expectations. (Two hours of preparation to leave the house for any length of time really was justified, and a few more trips out of the house in jammies wouldn’t kill anyone.) In fact, there just may be a future post in the sheer number of these expectations alone.
It was easy to see exercise wouldn’t hurt the situation, and that wasn’t going to happen in a gym or a class anymore- if I wanted the release of cardio, I would have to figure out a way to make it happen at home.
Matt gave me a blessing, and the message spoke of joy.
I soon remembered some advice in an article I’d posted here before about being a mom, to “enjoy the doing.”
I remembered Elder Ballard’s wise remarks about the need to “simplify.”
The treasure I sought was the joy Matt’s blessing had offered- and there it lay.
At last, here it lies!
It’s here in Sam’s sweet squeals and giggles, in Levi’s lopsided grin, and Eliza’s coos. It’s here in Matt’s eyes when he laughs at the chaos that greets him at the end of every day. And it’s here… now… in the quiet moments of the evening when I record our lives (instead of mopping the floor).
So I’ll have to be excused for not returning calls, if I’m late in getting to an appointment or a play date, and when my house looks a little like a barnyard. I’m busy experiencing the joy I lost.