Today I’m sitting on my ugly old “might as well keep it since we have small kids” couch staring at the breakfast (and dinner) dishes that need to be scraped off and loaded into the dishwasher.
I’m pulling strands of wild, oily hair from my dark ponytail and winding them tightly around my index finger until it turns dark crimson, contemplating when I might be able to schedule an appointment at the cheap hair salon without the girls with me. I’m imagining taking them with me, and it’s making me giggle. Then shudder.
I’m wondering where all my energy went, and then a thumping in my abdomen reminds me that I’m almost 22 weeks pregnant. Oh. Hello there! Yes. That’s why I’m so tired. I’ve been so busy trying NOT to give in to the bone crushing exhaustion and keep the show rolling while cooking, shuttling, chasing, planning, dressing and nose wiping that I’ve sort of forgotten that a new person will appear in our house late this winter. I add to my “to do” list: find time to mentally and emotionally bond with this new baby.
I’m wondering why on earth the earthy scented candles my husband bought need to be kept within the reach of two wax loving giggle monsters. My eyes are growing squinty as I think about it. Candles are supposed to be relaxing, right?? I’d like to toss these out the window for all the stress they’re causing me.
I’m chewing on the inside of my lip and staring at what’s left of a bowl of oatmeal…oatmeal with a strange fruity flavor and crimson specks throughout. The day before, my daughters decided to “cook” with mommy’s new cranberry tea, and dumped several packets into a giant container of oats. This while I rinsed the training toilet in the tub because it had begun to smell like elderly people in a nursing home.
I’m growing increasingly irritated with my 4yos out of bounds behavior. I’m furrowing my brow at my own snappy impatience with her, and that brow furrowing is giving me a headache. I’m trying desperately to see my child through the annoying taunts of this teasing, pushing imp that looks strangely like my daughter.
I’m smiling wanly on the outside and flailing my arms internally as my two year old daughter proudly runs through the house with a crap covered tushie, decorated with a streaming white line of toilet paper…as she exults, “I dood it myself! I dood it myself!” I giggle despite myself. And gag.
I’m realizing that the thought of hovering around the house doing everything that needs to be done bores me out of my ever loving mind, and the thought of answering one. more. repeated. question. makes me want to burst into tears.
Gagging to the point of hot tears one more time as I carry one diaper full of urine and the other full of poo from the bathroom. Realizing the tiny octogenarian-smelling potty needs to be scrubbed again. Wincing at the stinky overflowing garbage that needs to be taken out again. Silently groaning that last night’s garlic smelling soup pot needs to be scrubbed again. “Again” permeates my life.
Realizing that I need to exercise again today, or I’m going to end up gaining forty pounds before February, which isn’t really very healthy. Wondering how I’m going to trick my mind and body into complying one more day, when it’d rather be sitting in the tub drinking three gallons of sweet tea and ice water.
Not a positive way to start my day, I realize. But it is what it is. I won’t deny that I feel this way. I’m tired and bored and lonely, and I wish my daughter was somewhere else today even though I love the stuffing out of her. I simply don’t have the energy right now to be the mother I’d like to be.
If I weren’t pregnant, I’d be downing coffee like nobody’s business, leaving my anti-caffeine ideals in the dust. As it is, I add to the list of things I shouldn’t consume: really strong, black coffee…bringing the contraband list to: alcohol, excessive caffeine, really hot baths, running, motorcycle riding, staying up later than the kids, decent adult activity, excessive sugar, St. John’s Wort, several pain meds, undercooked eggs and sushi.
And people wonder why pregnant mothers are so grouchy. What? What’s that you say? A little louder over the screaming? Ah. Erm, yeah. That’s it. I’m hormonal.
There is a point in the life of each person when they gain the courage to start closely examining the parts and pieces of what makes up their own self, and the even greater courage required to toss out the unneeded things that hold them back and keep them from growing. Self reflection can be an exciting and terrifying business.
Eventually, as I realize how many of my assumptions and pieces of “me” are dependent on the unwanted bits, large portions of who I think I am come into sharp and glaring focus all at once. These moments are often akin to having the proverbial rug yanked out from under my feet, leaving me disoriented and searching and off balance. The domino effect of realization is dizzying and humbling and numbing, and, if I fail to quiet my heart in the moment, can leave me scrambling for a scrap of identity to hang on to.
I start to feel like Tevye, the main character of Fiddler on The Roof as he shouts in a moment of introspection, “One little time, I pulled out the thread, and where has it led? Where has it led?” I’m torn between the comfortable “used to”, yet called at the same time towards the irrevocable pull towards growth and stretching. It hurts. It is a great, great struggle. Change is the ripping apart long held assumptions and notions that have brought me comfort, pain, belonging and rhythm. The roots and tendrils are woven into all the experiences and assumptions I gained from them, for better or for worse, and losing them blasts away all semblance of equilibrium in my “self esteem”.
I don’t know if I can change. I don’t know if I’ll ever be “happy” again if I pursue it and fail to catch it. The prospect of growing beyond my limited understanding and capacity for living and love sends shivers of delight and dread down my spine. What if I can’t catch it? What if I end up depressed and self-loathing? I feel so alone and ill equipped.
But I’m not alone. As illogical as it sounds, I truly believe myself accompanied. I have to believe in my heart that the Caller of my soul is one that I can trust. That
my Lord that will be there at the end of the journey, following me, empowering me, comforting me along the way, as I allow myself to come apart and be scrutinized by gentle eyes. That the core of who I was when I entered this world will be retained, and that I won’t be lost all together in the deconstruction.
I’m too exhausted for particulars, and I don’t really require platitudes or consoling, because I’ve passed the point of any of those things being useful. It’s a journey, and against almost every splinter of my being, I’m taking the next few steps.
As a small child, being sick meant reading books in bed and eating chicken noodle soup and drinking lots of water through straws. As a college student, it meant skipping your least important classes and treating yourself to naps and too much reality t.v. As a newly married couple, it meant propping your feet up on the couch after work and having your spouse bring you hot tea and advil. Going to bed early and taking it easy was an option.
There is no such luck for the parents of littles. They are a precious job that you can’t stop doing, even if you wanted to. There are diapers to be changed, other mouths to be fed, tears to be wiped, stories to be read, dinners to be cooked, clothes to be washed. Life doesn’t pause for parents of small children, even when you desperately need it to.
My head feels like it’s underwater for the 4th day in a row, my voice sounds croaky as I try to instruct “No, honey, gourds are not meant to travel around in our underpants!”, and my energy level is shot all to hell. Yet the show must go on.
There are, of course, priceless perks. Carefully scrawled “Get well” cards, hugs, messy attempts to “bring you sumpin’ to help you feew bettew!”. Earnest prayers that Jesus will heal mommy’s “Snuffly nosie”. Snuggles and worried looks and lots of advice. “When I feel bad, brownies ALWAYS help my body feel better soon! Maybe you should bake some brownies!” Har!
Hot tea is helping. And, thankfully, it doesn’t have Nate and I down at the same time. Lots of water. Lots of sticky kisses. I’ll be so grateful when my head stops pounding and I’m waking up my usual 5 times a night rather than dozens. I might take a hot bath with rose oil later while the girls help “clean” the bathroom with their water squirt bottles. Mom and Dad are coming to go out to lunch, so that will be a help.
Soon, I hope, I’ll be able to blog without sneezing all over my laptop, leaving icky little rainbow specks all over the screen.
In all honesty, I don’t think I’d be willing to trade all the pampering in the world for this phase of life, even if it means not so many chances to feel pampered. I already feel special, even with this nasty cold monster jumping up and down on my head. :OP <3
Apparently, it’s an in-depth look at America’s obsession with “beauty”, Hollywood, and the beauty industry. There’s a screening in ATL tonight, but I don’ think I’ll make it on such short notice. :OP Surely after the tour, they’ll release limited copies.
Here’s another interesting short documentary, Beautiful, that I found really poignant and interesting, especially the section where the interviewed women were asked if they consider themselves beautiful, and whether beauty was a form of power.
Since the blood volume of a pregnant gal is ultimately increased by 40-50% during gestation, it follows that your skin/ tissues with be more “glowing” and engorged (such an ugly word). The nasal passages are no exception. So even when I *don’t* have a cold, breathing is slightly trickier. (decreased lung space also ensures that!) With a cold, it’s downright aggravating.
I hate pregnant coughing. Loosened joints make it more likely that you’ll pull something during a violent fit of hacking. Peeing on one’s self is also a very real possibility. Sleep is already sketchy, and adding coughing and stuffy nose to the mix makes it nearly impossible.
I’m waking up early, because I can’t take laying down anymore, not because I’m well rested. Which gives me a tired headache on top of the sinus headache.
Oh yeah. And no decongestants (not that i recommend them anyway) or any painkiller but Tylenol for you.
Oy vey. I don’t complain a lot in “real life” because the show must go on, but, crap, this is NOT a lot of fun.
One of the biggest pitfalls of being a researcher and “activist” seems (to me) to be getting so caught up in the excitement of learning all one can about a subject, and never realizing the knowledge in real life. My own life is no exception. I’ll admit, to my chagrin, that I adore theorizing and discussing and grappling with a beloved idea to the nth degree while completely ignoring it’s application in my own life.
I’ll believe a concept in theory, I’ll even be wildly passionate about it, but because of my personality type (INFJ), I tend to dwell in my head a lot. The knowledge and wisdom and passion I have for a subject sometimes never translates well to my actual life. It’s an embarrassing Achilles heel to have, especially for someone who enjoys knowing a concept inside out. Similar to the “the cobbler’s children have no shoes” phenomenon. I loathe it about myself, and try my hardest to stomp it out whenever I recognize it, but I’ve come to realize that personality weaknesses are generally lifelong chores that need constant attention. I’ll always have to question myself: how are my ideals lining up with my life?
Just one example: trying to live gracefully towards my husband and children, and not cultivating adversarial relationships within my family. I can talk about it ALL day long, know why it’s imperative, even brainstorm practical ideas and applications, but, at the end of the day, if I’m approaching my family in a way that says, “You’d better do what I say, or else!”, I’ve completely dropped the ball and missed the point of all my “study”. Until I can lay down my scholar cap and take up the towel of a servant leader, all those wonderful thoughts are rubbish.
Sometimes, it’s painful to step back and view yourself realistically with the measure you treasure and find yourself woefully short of the mark. It’s so easy to have a good handle on the letter of the law, and totally miss it’s heart in your own life.
(I’ve often wondered if the apostle Paul struggled with that in his own life: he had an amazing mind as a teacher and scholar, and yet he obviously struggled in his relationships and with having patience for certain people. It’s interesting to consider that his own experience and struggle with theory vs. real life may have sparked him to write, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.”)
So, the pruning begins. Sometimes it means the painful removal of things that aren’t “evil” at all, per se, but rather things that distract and clutter my life and keep me from having room to put my own feet to the fire. It’s tricky for a theory loving introvert to hop out of her own head and allow the grace that her head loves to permeate and saturate her life in every way. It sweeps me out of my element, and off my feet. It forces vulnerability and failure and humility that I’d rather shy away from. The journey from book wisdom to heart wisdom is dangerous and breathtakingly exhausting. It invites opportunity to be exposed, to laugh with those around me, and to dispel my safe belief that knowledge alone fortifies and sustains.
And that’s a very beautiful thing.