Today I watched a wedding video on an old college friend's blog. It was a beautiful video. A beautiful love story. But the thing that got me was the song that was playing in the background. I heard the chorus, and knew it as a semi obnoxious song that we all danced to at middle school dances. But this, this was someone else singing a very different version. The lyrics just got me. I am emotional person. I am easily rocketed into a feeling that sometimes overwhelms all of me. I was literally laying down nursing Rosemary and crying and listening to this song. Here are the lyrics:
"I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)"
Life can wear me down. The hard days can layer upon me, and then all of the sudden I am lying in bed with tears streaming down my face while listening to the band Sleeping at Last. I wasn't sad. I was so grateful. This love song felt like a real love song. I was remembering the conversation I wrote about in an earlier post, when Andrew told me what he does every day is for his family. The lines in the song that talk about working and giving all his money... I just felt such a gratitude to Andrew and how hard he really works.
I know some may roll their eyes when I post lyrics to a love song and talk about how much I love Andrew. But it is more than that. It is about sacrifice. It is about sacrifice every day. Our culture loves to talk about love and what it is or what it should be. But today it hit me so hard. It is sacrifice. It is putting the other before you again and again and again.
Our days are full of joy. But they are not easy. This morning went something like this:
Blanche woke up at six am hungry. I knew I needed to get up because Andrew had to close at work tonight. But oh, I didn't want to. I really did not want to be the one getting up. I told myself that I had to watch the girls late and would be doing housework late while he was gone. I told myself in my head that I deserved sleep. I did get up, and got Blanche set up with her juice and show and clean diaper. While I was changing her, Rosemary started to cry. I kept getting Blanche set up and Andrew brought Rosemary to me. I took the baby back to bed and nursed her. Praying she would go back to sleep. She didn't. Blanche came in, they both played and made messes beside the bed as Andrew and I kept trying to lay there. Then Blanche went in her room and made a mess and refused to clean it when I told her to. And then there was a meltdown and Andrew trying to help Blanche to maybe go back to bed. It just felt like chaos. And in my mind I kept thinking, I should have just gotten up and stayed up. Then I wouldn't have been grouchy and yelled at Blanche to stop screaming when she was refusing to pick up her toys.
So, I then took both girls and Andrew said he needed more sleep. I say all this because it took a lot for me to not be mad that he got more sleep than me. I literally had to pray and write in my journal. I am that selfish. And honestly, it was just a toddler meltdown and then just life. But in my mind I was focused on what I deserved and what wasn't going right.
But later, even as my attitude was still sort of on edge, Andrew got up and started making lunch, and extra dishes and snacks for us. He worked in the kitchen and then started cleaning it up until he to leave for work.
It is about sacrifice. It is not about keeping score but helping each other. I keep having to remind myself this. We are both weary. It sometimes gets to the point that it is almost comical. This morning I locked myself in the bathroom so I could go in peace. I could hear Blanche, "Mooom.... what are you doing? Mooomm?? Hey mom, I took off my diaper in my room okay? Hey Moooom... let me in its cold out here."
I just have to laugh. This is life. Chaos all around.
But God has been doing a work in my heart. Thats why I love God. I ask for help and I am unsure and He meets me. I don't have to be in a church. I don't have to be in an in-depth Bible study. I can literally read a few verses in the morning and pray to God begging for strength and the ability to love my family more... and then He just transforms my heart. Almost as if my eyes are being uncovered. I say yes to Him and he says, this is love, love is sacrifice. I wanted to live a life of love. Love is putting myself last. It isn't always fun, but work is not always meant to be.
In just this last month, God has been showing me so much about motherhood. I think like love in marriage, there are myths or misunderstandings about motherhood. For some reason I believed that motherhood was suppose to completely fulfill me. That it would be fun and cute and really rewarding. I never really wanted to think about how hard it might be. And I had found myself often blaming my children for my own selfishness and weakness. If things got out of control and hard I would start saying I didn't want anymore children. I will say, at one point recently I was on steroids that I was having a reaction to, which that is when it was the worst... so I don't completely count it as all me. But it did wake me up a bit. Andrew would ask me when I was having a bad moment why would I start talking about worries and things that weren't even happening? Why wasn't I focusing on the problem now instead or worrying about circumstances that were not even here yet? The answer I found, was because I wanted control. So much control. I want to control my life and what I do and how it is going to be.
And then one day I was cleaning the kitchen and God whispered, "What if what I have for you is motherhood? What if what you think is best for you, really isn't?"
And then I stopped. And I wondered what life would be like if I just accepted that God wanted me to be a mother right now. And to embrace that. To just be a mother until he told me otherwise. Maybe a photographer or writer or orphanage worker in India would come one day. But what if I just stopped. Stopped all the control and listened to God.
I have learned even in a week or two, that when I just give in, and let God carry the huge burden of trying to plan my entire family and life, that I have a lot more mental and emotional energy to simply solve the problems of the day. And to also embrace the hard stuff. A mom friend who has six kids told me, " I'm finding that holy and hell often times dwell together. Hell will be poured into our laps, but it's made holy when we look up."
I started listening to my inner voice. There are often times a lot of complaining, self pity, need for control etc... but when I just walk one day at a time, and embrace that awful hard moment... and use prayer and ask God for help... that's when my eyes are often lifted. Like today, after all that craziness... at one point I walked in to see those last couple of pictures. Blanche had the idea for daddy to help her and Rosemary ride her horse while wearing their hats.
There are blessings. So many... all around. Do I see my children as burdens and something to limit because of how stressful and messy they are? Or do I see them as gifts and souls and people? Do I even see myself as the gift of mother... being able to bring life into this world.
I remember after having Blanche that I knew there was nothing greater I would ever do in life. I brought life into the world. I pushed a ball of mass out of my body and into the world. I heard her first cries. There is no greater feminist act than pushing out a baby.
I write all this because these are all the things floating around in my head. It isn't that everything is suddenly clear, but that maybe I am starting to understand what marriage and motherhood is truly about. It is about love and sacrifice. And about not giving up when it gets hard.