Someone hit repeat

I went to write what I thought were new thoughts rolling around in my mind and instead decided to read back over old posts here. I haven’t written often so I was able to skim read the last two years fairly quickly. It nearly made me cry that what I was feeling and expressing that long ago is basically the same place I’m at now. No closer to an answer than I was then and if anything, feeling like I have less time to think about it.

I’ve been reflecting recently on the push for women to do more and be more. Facebook is full of “you’ve got this, mama,” and “do what it takes to make things happen.”

I want more income but don’t want to run a business. It adds so much stress to our lives when I’m pushing hard at something like I did with Usborne last year.

I want more time to pursue creativity but I don’t want to farm my kids out to do it.

I want to have a more orderly house but I don’t want to spend every moment cleaning or organizing.

I’m just as stuck as I was years ago and I don’t know how to get out of it. I tell Mike this stuff and he doesn’t have any response. I suppose this is one of those times when I honestly wish he was the kind of man who wants to fix things. I think he is just as stuck as I am but isn’t bothered by it.

There are areas I can let go of. I am trying to work myself into a place where I’m okay with things being the way they are at home as long as everyone is functioning all right. If no one is bothered by the schedule we keep with laundry, meals, etc. than there is no reason to change it. It may mean that sometimes it looks different here than in other homes but if my kids and my husband are okay with it, does that matter?

I am making another effort to lose weight. I’ve lost thirty pounds since the middle of September, which is a success at least in losing the weight that I gained during my last pregnancy. I honestly would be fine staying where I’m at, in terms of comfort with myself and it being a relatively easy weight to maintain but I know that when I get pregnant again, I am already going to be in multiple different high-risk categories. My weight is still at a place where, based on BMI, I will be red-flagged as overweight in addition to all the other red flags that will exist because of my history. I wish it didn’t matter but it does. So I am forced to carry on and try to lose as much as I can before another pregnancy, even though it is time consuming and tiring to think about it.

This is all very uncomfortable. I would love to say that I’m moving forward and ready to jump into whatever it is I’m called to but I’m in the same place, feeling like I’m failing at the obvious calling – motherhood – and stagnant in every other area.

I told Mike last night in the middle of another monologue that I wish I had the answers to all of these questions. He quoted Hitchhiker’s Guide and said, “42.” I don’t think he knows how much it hurts when quoting a movie is the most he can give me. I know he’s not supposed to have all the answers but he’s the only one I am completely honest and open with. I feel like I’ve asked God and only hear silence. And friends have advice for what works in their lives but most is not applicable to mine. I’m lost, stuck and confused and it sucks.

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Reinvention

At least once a year, the urge to reinvent myself takes over. It often happens near the New Year but sometimes in the fall, when school is starting again and everyone seems to have a clean slate. In the last week, I have dyed my hair and gotten new glasses, so I suspect the urge is here again.

As I was thinking on things I could do to magically transform into a different kind of person, I remembered that yet again, I did not get family pictures printed or write a newsletter or send Christmas cards. I didn’t bake for my friends and I didn’t knit anything for family members. In my earlier years of motherhood and marriage, I did all of those things every year. I was organized and on time and the reason for all of this (in my opinion) is that my kids were young and still took naps. I’m also certain that this is why I blogged an awful lot more nine or ten years ago than I do now. I just had more time.

I have perfectly good reasons for doing things differently now, or for not doing things. But somehow I always feel that life would be better and feel more “real” if I still managed all of that and more. When it comes down to it, I feel that I just don’t measure up right now. I suppose those are mostly my own standards but they are also standards set by family members or other stay at home moms. I know deep down that I don’t have to live up to them but they still hang there like flashing neon signs.

I have been reinventing one area in my life lately and feel that I’ve made a lot of progress in making it something for my good instead of something I have to do. I have so often read my Bible quickly – one chapter at a time, alternating books in the Old and New Testaments. For a few months now, I’ve been reading a book I feel led to read and writing at least one page on a verse that stands out to me and my thoughts on it. It feels good, like studying for the enjoyment of the subject versus studying to pass a test. I’m meeting once a month with a small group of friends to pray and encourage each other and that has also been a blessing instead of feeling like an obligation or responsibility.

But still this desire to change other things is there. To become organized, efficient, more frugal. To cook more and eat out less, to exercise regularly. I know that what works best is small changes over time, that trying to turn my world upside down all at once will be a failure every time. There are just so many times when I try to work on the little things and get busy, distracted and tired. The next thing I know, I’m right back where I started.

These are just my thoughts today. I wish I had an answer, a light bulb moment to show me how to get past this or accomplish it. I don’t. I just needed to write.

 

Wanting Too Much

You know how some people are just made to do that one thing? To sing, teach, act, build buildings or run marathons? Sometimes they make it their career, other times it’s just a hobby. But so many people seem to have that thing they do and do well.

I’m a mom. I always wanted to be a mom and when I became a mom I felt fulfilled in it. But I didn’t stop writing and creating. And I didn’t stop dreaming of things I wanted to do someday. At least not right away.

Women are told they can do it all. Some seem to be told they should do it all. No one told me that. I’m a mom and most of the time I profess to be satisfied with motherhood as my thing. Except it’s not. I don’t actually feel very good at it most of the time. I love my kids and I love being a mother but I feel as though I’m failing in this position so often. There are other things I can do that I feel I am better at than mothering. Clearly I’m good at having babies and I’ve been fortunate enough to breastfeed all seven successfully – in a few weeks, my estimated time breastfeeding will total one hundred and three months. I’m good at that. But beyond this stage, moving into other areas, I have so many shortcomings.

I know plenty of other women who feel this way but so many of them have a thing that they do and I believe that success in that task helps them overlook some of the perceived failings in their motherhood. Some grow amazing gardens. Others write books. Some paint and sell their paintings. Some craft beautiful jewelry. Many go to the gym, eat right and stay in great shape.

I feel like I don’t have that anymore, though. Here I am, raising seven kids – kids who are with me all day long, basically every day. I do the basic things that moms are supposed to do – keeping their clothes clean, feeding them, doing the dishes. But then I just sit around and think about all the things I’d like to do. I want to write a book. I want to lose fifty pounds. I want to re-learn guitar, write songs and maybe even perform them. I want to take a pottery class. I want to make things again. I want to buy furniture and make it look amazing and new. I want too much.

How do I deal with this? I have no idea. I have this feeling that I don’t have time for it all. That I’m going to have to pick something and give the rest up. Then another voice enters and says, “You think you have time for something other than being a mom? You’ve got to be kidding me. This is your life now. Let go of all that stuff; you don’t have time.”

Who am I supposed to believe?

Do I have talents I’m wasting or is it silly to think that they are still there? Is there some other thing I should be doing? Or is motherhood really my only task and calling?

This may seem such a trivial question for so many people but know this: it breaks my heart not knowing. There is so much uncertainty in these thoughts and my actions reflect it. I am stuck, my legs knee deep in mud, fighting to keep myself upright and wondering if the branch reaching out for me to grab is this thing I’ve been neglecting. If grasping it and running with it would pull me out.

Sick baby, tired mama

Simon has pneumonia, although we are on day three of antibiotics and I’m certain he is improving. But I’m so tired. And I wrote this long post that ended up sounding whiny and rambling so I’m sticking with something short. I have so much to do and finding a balance between work and rest is hard right now. I could really use a tiny little vacation or a week at home with no kids for most of the day. Since those things won’t be happening anytime soon, I’ll just keep getting through one day at a time and hope we come out relatively unscathed on the other side.

Happy New Year!

Here we are in a new year and I’ve picked up a planner again to see if I can reorganize my life. I have weight to lose and stuff to clear out and a brain that can’t handle much in terms of planning unless I write it down. I also have sick kids and have had some form of illness in the house since mid-November. This means I’m going easy on myself for now. I know this will pass and everyone will be well again. For now, I give myself a task or two each day on top of the normal daily stuff and have so far reorganized my linen closet and threw out half of my makeup. Not bad for three days in.

Short and sweet and to the point today. I hope you all had a joyful Christmas and that your 2017 will be blessed!

Used to be..

I used to be a writer. Words came out of me all the time. When I didn’t have a pen in hand or my fingers on the keys, my mind was spinning with things I had to write down as soon as I could. I once said that I wished I had a way to record my thoughts as they happened so I could remember all the stories, poems and prose that were formed there.

I used to be an artist. Not the drawing, painting, sculpting sort, but in my own way artistic. I used to create things and when I wasn’t creating, ideas were always there for something new to make.

I used to be fun. I suppose I still am sometimes but often I just feel old. And confused. And tired.

I watched a video a few minutes ago – a spoken word piece by a popular artist. He said that it is always the things people didn’t do that they regret at the end of their lives. He said we all have a gift and we should all be using our gifts. He said, “Sometimes you gotta leap. And grow your wings on the way down.” I love that. It speaks to me. But putting that into practice while I raise a family and do all the things a mom does is difficult at best. I believe that years ago, God spoke to my heart and called me to something. Something big but not specific. I believed then and do now that it centers on my gifting as a writer. If I based my belief in my gift on the number of readers I have here (one, maybe two?), I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. But it’s been there for a long time. Long before blogging was a thing. It was always my gift.

So maybe leaping is saying, “I am a writer. I am an artist.” Maybe leaping is not even knowing what I’ll find when I get to where I’m going. Maybe leaping is making a way even when it seems impossible. Even when babies cry and dishes need to be washed.

Humble Pie..

This pregnancy has been humbling. That’s a gentle word for it, anyway. When I got pregnant, I was in the best shape I had been in since before having kids, even though I didn’t weigh much less than before I got pregnant with Oliver. The month of January was spent working out of a daily planner in order to keep on top of meal planning, decluttering and general housework. I wasn’t working out every day but had a good routine to maintain my level of fitness. And then I got pregnant. It was not unexpected and I was very excited.

The first few months of pregnancy were exhausting. I couldn’t work out, couldn’t clean the house, stopped using my planner and only barely got meals on the table half of the time. I was so sick and the medication I was on to make me feel better made me even more tired. Finally, about halfway through, I stopped taking it and started to feel a bit better. For a few weeks. The typical second trimester energy just never kicked in for me and then suddenly I was in the third trimester. My weight gain by around halfway was over twenty pounds and as of right now – 35 weeks – I’ve gained nearly forty-five pounds. I have felt heavy and slow and tired and incapable of many things that are usually just part of normal life for me.

The latest development is a return of a pinched nerve or compression in my shoulder that sends numbness and pain down my arm every time I sleep. I’ve tried sleeping sitting up, somewhat reclined on the couch and on my back (which has only been possible for an hour or so a few nights ago). I even went so far as to bring my zero gravity lawn chair inside the house last night and slept in for a few hours but even a reclined position didn’t prevent it from happening. I went back to bed sometime after seven and cried – sobbed – about the whole thing. Big, messy crying from pain and frustration and total exhaustion. Mike prayed for me but I know he’s having a hard time with all of this, too. Kind of tough to go from having a wife who is on top of everything and keeps you and your kids fed and happy to having a wife who is in pain all the time, crying at the drop of a hat and waking you up with all her tossing and turning.

A few weeks ago, I decided the best way to get through these last weeks was to stay busy – have some sort of project for each day. Now I’m faced with produce I bought to can and a whole load of unfinished projects around the house. I watch as other women, just as pregnant as me, tend their gardens (I never had one), can their produce, take daily walks and make creative meals nearly every day. I can barely stay awake today and really have no idea how I’ll make it through another five weeks like this. I warned Jenny and Elias today that if things don’t improve, they will have to pitch in a lot more around here. Honestly, I’m tempted to hire help but then I feel that people will wonder why my husband and oldest kids aren’t doing more around the house to help me.

Needless to say, there are a lot of mind games going on here. It’s hard to stay focused on what is important and while I’m looking forward to holding this baby, it’s not easy to wait and endure the physical and mental trials that this pregnancy has brought me. I have learned my limitations and while I would love to rest when someone close to me tells me to rest, I just don’t know how to do it without everything completely going to pot around me.