Friday, December 23, 2016

Almost Christmas

It's 3 days before Christmas, but I am not listening to Christmas carols. I am listening to the soft whir of the ceiling fan, and the click of my keys. I am listening to a few minutes of silence, quiet. And hoping that quiet finds its way into my heart.

I just got home from an OB appointment, and before that I was working. This was the boys' first day off school, and they went to spend the day split between the grandparents. I was hoping to get an hour to sit down and blog because it has been forever. But after finally getting the million pictures sorted, I am down to half an hour before they get home. It's better than nothing.
I have a laptop now. One of those things I have been longing for to make work a little easier. To be able to get out of the house sometimes when I am doing computer work, away from the smells and crumbs and heat. I have taken it to the library and sat by a Christmas tree, and that was nice. One day I may go get a coffee at Starbucks or something. I asked for the laptop for Christmas, but Justin got it for me early, saying it was for work so it didn't count as a present.

But it also works well for writing on my blog when all I really want to do is lie down in silence. I have a heating pad on my already starting to ache back and pillows all around me, and I feel as close to comfortable as I will ever be for the next 4 months I suppose.
Life is moving along at a chaotic speed and I am grasping at it as it goes by. I am struggling a bit. I am so tired, more tired than I feel like I have ever been, though I have known tired. But it is not so much the physical tired....some of that has waned as the morning sickness has slowly lifted (more slowly than I would have liked....I am still taking medication every night, but as long as I take it I am actually enjoying food and eating normally now).

I know my physical energy is catching up because I have started to get more caught up on the housework throughout the week. I am able to do a load of dishes, mostly clean up breakfast, and get a load of laundry started in the mornings now, while also getting all 3 boys ready for school and me ready for work. I am actually keeping up with doing and sorting the 2 loads of laundry per day after work now, in addition to getting everyone from school, struggling through homework, making lunches for the next day, and making dinner.

But my soul is tired. All the way to the deepest part of me. I am weary. And I am getting a little desperate for change.

Some of it is hormones, I can tell. Of course I am extra emotional from pregnancy. And this has been a hard one. The morning sickness, the Braxton Hicks contractions that have already started. Lack of exercise has certainly contributed. I just don't feel like there is time even for walks anymore, unless I am perhaps accompanied by 3 little boys who are fighting the whole way around the block.
Most of it is just this feeling that I am living one of the best times of my life, I am raising 3 beautiful little boys, and growing a little girl whom I will adore. But I am missing it for the multi tasking. I am working only while they are in school which is a huge blessing, but that means all the other things that have to be done to keep our home functioning is piling up while I am at work, and then I am split between caring for 3 little souls who all need such different love and attention and are completely exhausted from their days at school, my own needs as not only a person, which sometimes I really don't feel like one anymore, but as a person who is growing another person. It is all just so much, and it all feels so neverending sometimes.

The fighting gets to me a lot too. I know it is normal and fine but the little boy fighting that is constantly happening in our home is exhausting for a peace making person like me. I like everyone to get along. I like everyone to be real, don't get me wrong. I like things to be open and honest, and sometimes painful, but I like things to get resolved. And around here, every time one thing gets resolved there is another thing to contend with. And all the books say you should let your kids work it out on their own, but in our house there would be blood. There would be bullying and fear. And that's not ok with me. So I spend most of my day teaching conflict resolution, and I am worn out from it.

I feel so on edge that the slightest change in plans can leave me reeling, feeling hopeless and panicky. Everything feels like it is spinning rapidly and if one thing gets dropped it will all come crashing down and I can feel myself grasping, trying so hard to control. And I hate it. That's not who I am. That's not the kind of person or mother I want to be. But I am struggling to find a way out of the cycle.
The worst thing about it is that it all makes me so self centered. I am so overwhelmed by the load I feel I am carrying that the idea of taking on someone else's burdens, even for a moment, feels crippling and unbearable. Supposedly in these sort of circumstances, helping someone who is in a more difficult position than you are can help change your perspective, but I am surrounded by many people, and work with many people daily who are in difficult situations, and it only makes me feel more helpless.

But that's worldly wisdom anyway, and I know none of it will work in the end. Throwing some money at those less fortunate, or buying everything in sight...that's not the answer, that's not the Christmas miracle I am needing. But I do feel that I am getting closer to grasping it.
My sister got me a book for Christmas called "Present over Perfect" and I knew just from the title that it was what I needed. I have struggled with even feeling like I had the time to read it, but today at my appointment I opened it up for the first time and found some relief. I was crying before the introduction was even over:

"We hugged for a minute and then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, 'how are you?'. I could tell she really wanted to know. I got teary eyed and said: 'I'm tired. Confused. A little lonely. But holding on.' She smiled as her eyes welled up. 'Me too, pal. Me too. It's so hard sometimes.'"

I don't think I have had that kind of vulnerable conversation with anyone for a long time.
The thing is, I know how good I have got it. I think particularly watching my sister struggle through her ongoing issues with infertility has made me ashamed for being tired and overwhelmed while living what really is my dream come true.
I look around and I see so many hurting people in difficult situations, and I have been given so many blessings...relationally, materially, physically, spiritually, it goes on and on. That I just put on a smile and keep going. I say I am tired,  even overwhelmed, and everyone nods because of course. But I don't say that I am also a little sad. That sometimes I get really worried and I can't even define what I am worried about. Because it feels too selfish.

I know I need to find a way to lay it all down, and I feel like I am inching ever closer. I feel like the breathrough is coming.
"Richard Rohr says that the skills that take you through the first half of your life are entirely unhelpful for the second half. The skills I developed that supposedly served me well for the first half, didn't actually serve me at all. They made me responsible and capable, and really, really, tired. They made me productive and practical, and inch by inch, year by year, they moved me further from the warm, whimsical person I used to be....and I missed her."
-Shauna Niequist
I can't say for certain that I was ever warm and whimsical, but I do miss the person I used to be before I let life crowd her out. I know I need to find her again. I feel it even more significantly as I reflect on the idea that I will soon be raising a daughter. Someone who will someday probably find herself in this very situation. Drowning in her multi tasking and looking for more. Trying to remember what lit up her insides when she was young and not quite so surrounded by responsibilities.
No one ever changes until the pain level gets high enough.
Christmas is almost here. Peace on earth. Hope for the weary world.
God was "silent" for 400 years before Jesus was born.

With each of my pregnancies, I have felt God's silence supremely. I have never heard anyone else speak of feeling this way, so maybe it is just my own experience, my own preparation.

Before my first pregnancy I imagined that carrying a child would be some sort of holy experience, and for some I think it is. But not for me. Before I conceived this precious child, I was enjoying daily rich communion with God. I know He led us to conceive her because I didn't want to. I mostly didn't want to be pregnant again and feel that silence. I also felt that I was already plenty busy with 3. But I trusted God's plans for us, and I still do. I know she was meant to be.

I believe in the sanctity of life. That life starts at conception and that the life inside of me, growing right now, is an incredible miracle, with her whole life written out already in God's book. That's why I think I thought, before I was pregnant, that pregnancy would be such an incredibly spiritual experience.

But I suppose, when it comes down to it, spiritual experiences are not necessarily feelings. Faith is, after all, things that are hoped for, but aren't yet seen. And that pretty much describes what it is like to be pregnant.
There is the hope and the beauty of that moment they place that baby on your chest and you can see and feel and know that everything was worth it: all the sickness, all the tears, all the tired.

Life in general can be like that. Sometimes there's just silence and emptiness in your soul, but the answer is not to fill it up with more movement, even if it feels like you can't stop moving. I'm trying to remember that.
It's morning now, the day before the day before Christmas. I took the day off and am looking forward to it. Unfortunately, somehow, Aquaman's occupational therapist, who won't give me a break, convinced me to bring him in this morning, so we have to get that over with first. After that, I promised all the kids I would take them to the mall to ride the Christmas train.
Everyone has been awake since before 6. Everyone has been talking nonstop. There has already been a fight or two.

But I'm holding on.

Christmas is coming.

The silence of heaven is breaking.