I'm not too sure when my life started to feel like a series of highs and lows. I think back to life before I had kids, and it seems like I was just a kid myself, in college, trying to figure out the world and who I was in it. I was telling my counselor this last week that when I think back to college I remember being emotional, just as I am now, but having a lot more time to ride the "lows." Low does not always mean negative. To me a low can be a time of great introspection, maybe sadness, and heaviness as well. I can remember being in elementary school and writing in a coloring book things that made me sad or confused, and then scribbling it all out with purple crayon. In college I would take a couple of days to ride the low, to write a lot, rearrange my room, work on an art project. Maybe it was actually the lows that allowed me to gear up for a "high" which are my times of great energy and excitement... full days, a happy heart, ready to take on the world with all my ideas.
As motherhood has continued my lows often look like just exhaustion, and the feeling of never really being able to leave the chaos. There is no time for days of pondering and writing. The children still need to be fed, bathed, loved and put to sleep. My mind often spins trying to process what I haven't had the chance to yet. If I get a full night sleep, I burst into energy, determined to accomplish my dreams that exhaustion has put a hold to.
Balance. That's the new goal. It has always been a goal for me. To just live my life in a fairly normal day to day fashion. This last week while sitting at a local cafe I ask my counselor, "Is it normal? Am I normal? These highs and lows? Am I just an emotional person?" Not that I really know if there is a normal I would want to strive for. But maybe, I need more guidance than I think. Her response was what it has been all along. I just have higher highs and lower lows. So the change and waves of up and down are much more noticeable compared to other people sometimes. Honestly I have always gotten a strange energy from the emotional rollercoaster that I ride. I wouldn't say that I am chasing the highs and lows, but more so that riding them births the ideas and passions inside. For me, (being 90% feeling on Myers Briggs) it's not so much about the emotional ride, but I honestly live a lot of my life out of emotion. I just can't help it.
But, I am coming to see that emotions, with highs and lows and then lack of sleep and small children can lead to a lot of unhappiness. Exhaustion, physically and mentally, which makes the lowers days really low. I've never really been close enough friends during motherhood with someone so similar to myself, or maybe I have and I just don't see it. I'd like to see those mothers though, how they balance the high energy days with the exhausted ones. I often write with the hope that my story is a small part of someone else's story, and that maybe through truth and vulnerability, connection and understanding becomes a part of both of our stories. To be a human is rough. I always feel so proud and sure until I realize I've been wrong about almost everything.
Talking with my counselor is my way of verbally unloading on someone and not feeling bad about it. Then I listen to her good ideas and figure out if I could do any of them. The last couple of days I have had the girls start their new "quiet time." It is basically a new and improved, more intentional way of keeping them quiet while Foster is napping. Instead of flipping on the tv and trying to clean and make coffee while they request snacks, each girl has a quiet time basket with little activities and books that only comes down for an hour or so each day. Rosemary sits on the couch, Blanche is in her room, Foster sleeps in my bed, and yesterday I drank my coffee in the sunshine. My first step to balance. Balance is really just being intentional about what I will need before I need it. Which I have never been good at. I am practicing the art of resting before I am exhausted. You know, to maybe prevent that low from dipping down so deep.
I would love to keep the highs. The other day while visiting my friend who just had a new baby, she looked up at me while holding the little baby on her chest and said with tired eyes, "You are like the Jack Russell Terrier of humans." It made me laugh so hard. I don't feel that high energy, but maybe I am on a good day. I hope that my highs morph into productivity and creativity as my kids grow and I am use to a good night sleep.
I find as I leave the "pregnant or new baby" stage I have been in for five years, that more balance is slowly coming. I have taken pride in the fact that small piles of toys and clothes are bothering me less and less. I am trying to use the days I feel rested to accomplish the extra work that needs to be done, but to be okay with a house that looks like it is lived in. I want Andrew and I to keep living out the passions and dreams we have for our life. I want to connect with nature and to raise my kids in it, but know that if we all hike three miles one day, we will probably need to rest the next.
Yesterday I took the kids to Free Forest School for the first time this year, and today as the rain pours down we've done our best to take the morning slow at home and work on our school a bit. The house feels like a mess and our quiet hour hasn't been perfect, but I am striving to find moments of stillness and rest, even with three small children. Connection and peace can come from times of rest, and we can build up energy for our higher energy days, where we are out hiking or swimming in the creek. For quite awhile it has felt like we have been in the process of moving or having a baby, but as we move out of survival state little by little, I keep hoping we find our rhythm and balance. To be swimming strong and not just barely have our heads above the water, or at least know what it means to rest in God and find ourselves loving those around us as ourselves.