Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Love Shack (Part 2)

I have a very clear memory of one night in high school when I was completely exhausted. My mom was living in Saint Joseph, a bigger city about twenty miles from where I went to school and where my dad was living in the very small town I grew up in called Gower. It was during a time when my parents were divorced and all of us kids tried to go back and forth between the two of them. I was on my high schools dance team and also worked at Sonic. I drove about thirty minutes to school each day.  I would get there early for dance practice, and other days drive my siblings in as well to school. After my day I would go to work at Sonic and many times it was the later shift and I would help close. This one night I remember my legs hurt so bad between the dance practice and skating at Sonic (I swear the north has way better Sonics and people skate). I had homework and a history test the next day. It was probably ten thirty at night, and I was just overwhelmed. I remember my mom rubbing my legs and then I ended up crying. My mother likes to fix things, I am sure I got that from her. She told me it was okay. Maybe she would just call in for me and I could study a bit in the morning and take the test later that day. I am sure if I told my friends what had happened they would think it was unfair. Or maybe even other mothers would think I was being babied. But life isn't really fair, and I think my mom already knew that. I was driving to and from two different cities all week to see both of my parents and probably using a lot of my work money for gas. So you know, screw that history test. Just do what we need to do to survive.

I don't really know why that one night in high school has stayed with me. Maybe part of it was that I always thought it was cool my mom would do that. She would let us sort of bend the rules. I will probably do the same things at times with my own children. Sometimes rules are dumb and life is hard and you just need a break.

But I am also learning now that I am an adult that sometimes you don't get that break. Sometimes my legs hurt and I am tired and I lay in bed crying and there isn't anyone to say that it can be fixed. My husband will still wake up and go to work in the morning and my children will probably rise close to 7 am. Sometimes when you are the parent no one can really hold your hand and tell you that you can have a day off.

I had this type of day this last Friday. Just a day where I was in a funk I couldn't get out of all day. I wanted to, but I just felt a tired fog all around me. Sometimes I just don't even know what I am doing. I am just cleaning and doing the motions and wishing I could do something else.

And then right when I thought I had no clue how to change or that things weren't going to change, we woke up the next morning and it was 55 degrees. It was rainy and cold and felt like it was Christmas morning. I had a text from an old friend and roommate I had lived in Ireland with, who now only lives an hour north of me. She said, "Step outside it feels like Ireland today." I went out onto the patio and everything felt so amazing. It was like a huge breath of fresh air to my hot and dusty summer. The warm sun feels good, but sometimes I become so dry and worn... and then the cold rain brings me back to where I need to be.

I am a sensitive person. Sometimes I wish I wasn't.  Sylvia Plath wrote in her journal once that she felt as if she lived in two extremes,  joyous positive and despairing negative. I heard this on a video about Plath once and it gave me a little comfort that I was not alone. I probably get my feelings hurt too much . I am probably too harsh with Andrew. But when I am happy, I am so happy. After I gave birth to Rosemary I told my nurse I wanted a thousand more babies. I float on clouds. When I am happy and content I feel as if all of the world makes sense. Every little detail in  my life can be beautiful. But when the clouds fall into a fog around me, nothing seems to make sense. Things feel so overwhelming and I feel helpless. Seeing this in myself makes me feel like a hormonal teenager, or that maybe something is more wrong with me than I realize.

I sometimes wonder if those closest to me wish I would change. But the truth is, it all just happens. My emotions snowball and Andrew can come home from work and he may never know what my day or my opinion of life is going to be that day. I would like to say that most days are pretty predictable and that I just have good days and occasional bad days, but I guess only Andrew could answer that.

I realize I need to work on not letting my emotions rule me. I think it takes thinking about it at least once an hour. Telling myself things are okay, keeping myself in check. I know though that if I wasn't this way, I couldn't sit down and write things as clearly as I do. Or when I look into a camera I wouldn't see things a certain way. My sensitivity and emotion makes me who I am.

After the brilliantly cold day yesterday, I felt better and refreshed for today. I told myself that rather than laying in bed at night realizing what I have to be thankful for, that I should try and write them in the morning. Or even write them in my journal through the day. There are so many things. There is so much sweetness happening all around me. I fear I am loosing myself in motherhood at times. I think maybe my children will be gone and I won't know who I am or who Andrew is and I won't even know what direction to walk. I clean up messes all day and fold laundry in between making snacks and pretending I'm a lion or dragon. I think that maybe right after college I was figuring out who I was and now motherhood has put all of that on hold.

But I always seem to forget that motherhood is changing me for good. I never sat down and wrote like this in college. The last time I wrote was in high school. So much was happening in my life when I was in high school. I journaled in college but did a lot of my processing talking with friends. Now I sit down to write at night once my children are asleep. I breastfeed, cloth diaper, baby wear. I do all these things I had never known anything about before children, and now I can tell you more than you would probably want to know. I am learning to be patient. I am learning to be content. I am learning when to stop folding laundry and sit and play with my daughter that will only be two for one more month.

I can't change my emotions. But I can know myself and set myself up for success or failure. No one can know how their day is going to go. And no one always likes going to work. Motherhood feels hard for me because my job never really ends, but at the same time I can sit in my pajamas and drink coffee until noon. Okay, I don't really sit long and the coffee gets cold... but its still comfy on rainy days.

Just as I wrote that I am probably too harsh with Andrew, I also feel the extreme on the other end of the spectrum for him as well. He is my best friend and I can get so frustrated and I want him to have the answers to all my questions about why life is the way it is. But then even though I think he has said all the wrong things he will just give up and say his last words to me in bed late at night in a sleepy voice. He told me how much he misses being in the wilderness. I asked in dramatic fashion, "Then why are we doing this?" In my mind I just see us loosing ourselves doing the 9-5 job, with a commute, living in the suburbs. But he just said it was because he wanted a family more. And that certain things are just on the back burner for awhile. And with that I won't forget those words. I can be mad or feel self pity or whatever funk I am in and then he just tells me the honest truth and it humbles me and I know he is right.

Who said it was my right to sit around doing all the things I want to do? I think I just want a given time where I know that I will have a couple of hours to myself, but with limited time during harder weeks... I start to feel trapped. Trapped in my own life of helping everyone but myself. But then I think about Ma and Pa Ingalls. Yes I do. Their daily tasks and work were their hobbies. So many people spend life just working to survive. It is a privalaged problem to not have time to scrapbook. I always have a hard time trying to process what it means to be a writer or artist. Most creative people know that it is not just a hobby or something we enjoy in our spare time. Making art and having the need to create something is really what drives so many creative people.  

I think what all this rambling really looks like is the pictures above. Just a wonderful messy day. I am a mom. I can't choose to always have a break when I would like it. And just because I would like to sleep in or read or take a long hot bath does not mean I will always get to. But at the same time, no one is telling me what type of mom I have to be. I can do this thing however I want. We can paint and play outside for every moment I'm not working on a chore. Which is actually what my next post is going to be about. My newest project sort of, "project get outside."

I am trying. I want to be thankful and loving. I want to have God help me love my family and to be thankful for all the many things I have. I am trying to know myself and know what it is that I need to be a thriving mother. And I think finger paints can really help.

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