I wrote this post a week ago and could have written the same thing again today. It’s been groundhog day in my world for the past few weeks. But, God’s grace picks me up to do it again and again (although I certainly don’t do it gracefully!) Hope this is encouraging to those of you stuck in the everyday hard.
Today was HARD. Not crisis hard. Not major life-shattering-event hard. Not even fight-with-your-husband hard. It was blah-blah every day hard. The hard of just putting one foot in front of the other to do the mundane tasks required of a wife and mother of preschoolers. I started my day curled up on the couch at 5:30am with my 4-year-old, pleading with him to not jump on me as I waited for the magic effects of my morning medications. The pulsating ache that ricocheted throughout my body didn’t fade as the minutes ticked by and I squeezed my eyes shut willing it all to go away. Despite the discomfort, the smooth and warm feel of Mikey’s cheek against mine and his squishy pull-up comforted me (even if he did wreak of pee).
7am. Time to move. I still can’t. 30 more minutes. Just 30 more minutes and I will force myself to get up regardless of how I feel. 7:30am I roll off the couch with the grace of a hippo, which I feel like today in a body I am not used to and haven’t quite made peace with yet. Ridiculous. I shake my head. “Snap out of it, girl! Who cares what size you are. Just get going and try to be sweet to your husband and not yell at your kids. Focus on forward movement.” The pulsing pain has dulled to vague all over ache that is slightly more bearable.
I place breakfast in front of Michael and go upstairs to wake up Will. His bed looks so comfy. I crawl into it and steal a few more minutes cushioning my body all in the name of snuggling my little man. Aaahhhh… if I could only hide in here all day.
Somehow between then and 8:30am we were all dressed, fed and ready to leave. A minor miracle to be sure. One quick errand and tantrum later, I blow kisses to my boys as they jump out of the van into the arms of one of the saint-like preschool teachers. One hurdle down.
As I drive to Bible Study I dream of my bed. Not exactly the mindset I am supposed to have before studying God’s word I am sure, but the the memory of soft pillows cushioning my aching joints is just too hard to shake. I don’t know why but I am sad. The weight of the world placed squarely on my chest. There is nothing specific attached to it. It’s just…there.
By the time I leave Bible Study I am glad I resisted the urge to escape back to my bed, but my body is screaming at me and I feel more alone than when I started my day. Pain can do that to a person. The more people I am around, the more interpersonal interaction I have on these days, the more alone I feel. It’s not a desperate alone. It’s just a “no one knows what it’s like to be in my body right now” alone. We all feel it in different seasons. I am not special here. Nor am I fooled into seeing myself as a martyr as I know there are so many who suffer pain more intense than mine.
I tried to enter into the joy of my boys as I picked them up from school and we pretended to be a fire engine all the way home. I feigned energy and excitement as we “axed” down our front door to save the people inside from the fire that was sure to gobble them up had Fireman Mike and Fireman Will not used their water cannon and rescue trampoline to deliver them from their impending doom.
Lunch… a hundred reminders to sit down…and two cookies later – we make it upstairs, tripping over debris from the weekend chaos I still have not managed to clean up. Naps don’t come easy to these would-be firemen who are absolutely convinced there are firecrackers in the house starting new fires to conquer. I threaten. I cajole. I beg. I am so friggin tired. I hurt. The room is doing a jig I am fairly certain it is not supposed to do. I just need them to go to bed so I can go to bed. All in all I get about 30 minutes of fitful, near tears rest. They come into my room and in an effort to not move I put a on movie. My bed is big enough for all of us, but Mikey seems to determined to use me as a seat. I want to cry. I want to hide. I don’t want to be a good mom right now. I just want to be still, in a dark room, and sleep.
By 2:30pm I’ve given up and try to salvage what is left of my day and my house. It looks like a bomb has hit it. My surroundings pretty much matching the way my insides feel. I wander around all afternoon starting tasks but not finishing, oscillating between frustration and anger and gratitude and surrender. Emotional whiplash is a good way to describe how I feel. Dishes. Sorting clothes. De-cluttering. Stops and starts and doldrum tasks I don’t have it in me to complete. Restless and disconnected.
“Mommy, catch butterflies with me!”
My sweet baby is covered in dirt and grime from speeding through rain puddles on his bike – a butterfly catching net slung over his shoulder. My first reaction is “I don’t have the time or energy to go catch butterflies” but something in me shoves this thought aside. I don’t know why but I get the overwhelming sense I need to go catch butterflies. I hold his grubby hand in mine and we go in search of butterflies. The next 30 minutes is the happiest I’ve been all day. I don’t notice the pain as much. I watch Mr. Mike run ahead and try to take pictures of this moment in my mind as I know I will blink and he will be a teenager who would be mortified to catch butterflies with his mama.
This is the answer to the prayers I have been breathing all day. The sadness, loneliness and crushing weight of the world fades away as we romp through fields of flowers. I smell honey suckles, hear the songs of the birds, and feel the sun melting the tension away. We laugh and chase. By the time we get back to the house, butterfly in net to show big brother, my reserves are back. I’m still tired. I still ache. I still have to get through dinner, bath and bedtime routine but it doesn’t feel as daunting.
God answers prayers in small, unassuming ways. I am pulled back into remembering that the only thing I have to be is present. I don’t have to take on five minutes ago or five minutes from now and somehow this makes the pain and weariness easier to bear. I need to discipline my mind and heart to slow down, stay present, quiet it’s constant worrying about how I will make it through and before I know it – I will be through. I don’t want to miss out on the good God is doing even in the midst of my most mundane or roughest days.
Butterflies. Sweet little boys. Honey-suckles. Mud puddles. Hand holding.
Thank you for the reminder, God. How many times will I need to relearn this lesson?
“Every day,” I hear Him whisper. “You can’t do this naturally on your own. Come to me every day and I will teach you – again and again. And again.”