There are few things more calming than holding a sleeping baby and sipping a cup of tea. As I’ve progressed through this day I’ve found myself wondering countless times when life is going to slow down. It’s when that question remains unanswered that I find myself going against the pediatrician’s instructions and my own better intuition and I feed the baby to sleep, not before getting a nice hot drink and a book, magazine or the computer.
I don’t know if it’s because I live in Los Angeles or if it is my innate inability to relax or if it is just the season of life I am in; most likely it is a combination of these factors, but I always seem to be busy. And while I am running around, my house is never as clean as it ought to be, I’ve not made myself look presentable, the meat for dinner is not thawed … it’s 2:15 and I’m speed walking to the elementary school to pick up my son, while fretting about the load of laundry sitting on my sofa getting wrinkled. And I wonder, where has my day gone?
By nature, I am an overachiever. It is not enough to accomplish some of the things on my list (and yes, even as a stay-at-home mom, I have a list), I want to get it all finished every day of the week. When I don’t, I get nervous. When I’m nervous I get overwhelmed. When I’m overwhelmed, I want everyone around me to shift into high gear and accomplish.
My husband walked into such a home last night — an atmosphere I had created. I tried to change … to settle myself down. Trying was not enough to change my mood nor my mode of operation. I really want to create a peace filled home. I pray daily that I will be an instrument of peace and that patience will emanate from me. I am not and it does not. Granted on my best days I can be that which I long for, but yesterday it escaped me.
When the kids were still awake at 8:30 and I walked through the house picking up after the three little people (and one not so little person) who, despite my pleas and attempts at training, drop their belonging all over the house; realizing there was still a lunch and a snack to be made, dishes to be finished, laundry to be folded, and a much deserved shower to be taken, I became overwhelmed and all I wanted to do was head to a blockbuster kiosk, retrieve a chick flick and shut my brain off. What I needed to do was settle a baby down to sleep and listen to my husband … to be what he needed me to be; kind, patient, empathetic, and safe. Sure I got around to being all those things I unwittingly vowed to be eight years ago, but why does it take such effort?
This morning I was struck with the realization that although I think to myself often of how selfish those around me are, I am just that. That it is because it is impossible to separate myself from my humanity I am selfish. Yes, I definitely spend the majority of my time doing for others to the point that when I get into bed each night, I feel I’ve earned my sleep, but when something doesn’t go my way I become infantile. I may not cry like my baby (well, let’s face it, sometimes I do), but I throw the adult version of a hissy fit. How dare my husband need me when I’ve been caring for his children all day, picking up his dirty clothes, cooking his food, doing his dishes.
I left my tantrum unfinished and took my shower hours after I wanted to. As the water streamed over my head, I allowed it to symbolically wash away all the things I loathe about myself, yet often won’t claim as mine. How much slower would life be if I didn’t waste time feeling sorry for myself or complaining about the gift of having four incredible people to care for? Aren’t I thankful that Matt (my husband) is not all the things that I am, that he never makes me feel as though he’s done enough for me already. God forgive me for the times when I fail him and in doing so fail Him.
As I start a new adventure this morning (all days seem to be such lately), I have great aspirations for the day. I have visions of my house becoming pristine, of working out to get the pre-baby body back, of cuddling my sweet Nicholas, of warm cookies coming out of the oven as my children arrive home, an amazing meal prepared, of me helping Lucas and Bethany with their homework with an immense amount of patience, followed by them peacefully drifting off to sleep and spending quality time with my husband. All this is a dream. I am messy … and those that I call my own are too. We are people and while life can be harmonious, it will never match my imagined perfection, and so I must set aside my lofty ideas and accept rustic reality, knowing that I will go through this day loving and that must be enough.