After writing this, I realized that it was exceptionally personal. I'm posting it anyway. Be kind.
The last few weeks have been, understandably difficult. I haven't had a lot of sleep and learning how to manage simple tasks with three kids is trickier than I thought. Who knew that just going from the church building to the car (maybe 25 feet at times) could be such an ordeal?
Slowly things are falling into place. I feel lucky. I'm not as much of an emotional wreck as I was after I had Caroline. I've been taking natural hormones to keep myself steady. The other day i had to wash the bouncy seat cover (Sadie puked on it) and when I took it out of the wash I discovered that it had a tear. It had been a very rough day and that was the kind of thing that would have thrown me off the brink last time, but this time I just called my Mom and whined a little. In retrospect the pills I'm taking are probably the best thing i could have done for me and my children.
I'm not saying it's suddenly easy, but not as bad as it could be. Another big help is that I've been gently reminded to pray. It seems like I've been encountering the gentle voice of God in small ways lately. A blog post, or two, or three, or some encouraging mail I've received lately with no return address. We also pray with our kids before bedtime and as I'm sitting in my Granny's rocking chair and praying with Caroline I make it a point to pray for myself. I pray for my attitude, for sleep, for my children to become the kinds of people God wants them to be. I pray for her father to be able to rest and relax despite his busy schedule. I pray for her and her brother and her tiny sister. Occasionally her nap time prayers run a little long. Once or twice she has fallen asleep on me while I prayed.
The truth is that I am slowly learning how to accept my life the way it is. I don't mean that I resent my kids- I mean my schedule, and my house and my duties. My house will not be neat and clean and my time may be a bit of a mess, but I'm coming to be okay with that.
It sounds like I'm some sort of neat freak with control issues, doesn't it? But I'm not. Until I had kids I would have insisted that I'm really okay with a slightly messy house and being constantly on the go. I am pretty introverted, and I need time alone to myself to recharge, but I wasn't so introverted that I didn't want to get out.
Now... I look at my schedule and I can tell you that I will probably be 10 minutes late to many of my activities, and I look at my house and see toys and crumbs and random stuff left wherever. I try to write out a blog post and I'm interrupted by the need for milk, or attention or to referee an argument. It's not that I don't clean, or try to be prepared ahead of time, or try to provide my children stimulating activities... I could be the best prepared Mom in the world, and the mess and the craziness would still get to me. There is no way to plan away the voice in my head that criticizes the way things are.
So I pray. In moments when I ask God to help us to be nice to one another, to keep our hands to ourselves and to use kind words, I'm often speaking as much on my own behalf as on my children's. I try to thank God for my blessings, and confess my own vulnerability and ask him for strength to become the woman he made me to be.
I had a conversation with a good friend recently in which she told me that she needed to ask permission to be herself. She asked her husband's permission, but she told me that the truth was that he didn't care. he wanted her to be herself, but she needed to be told that it was okay.
So who am I? Who do I need permission to be?
I need permission to only do the dishes every other day. It's not getting done every day anyway, and I need to be okay with that. It's hard to get a dishwasher filled and emptied, or pots scrubbed when you are holding a baby.
I need permission to let the house be messy all day, even when my husband gets home from work, and to just clean up before bed.
I need permission to let my husband take the kids and let me blow off some steam for a bit, even if that's just exactly when he gets home from work. (This one is a big one for me. All those "Good Wife" books tell you to do the opposite- let him have a few minutes to himself when he gets home- but there are some days when I can't give anything else of myself until I have recharged my batteries.
I need permission to spend a set amount of creative time on myself everyday. Time to write or read even pray so that I can have an outlet for that part of me that needs to create just for myself.
And what is this all about, anyway? Why can't I just be myself?
It's about fear. I'm afraid I'll disappoint my husband. I'm afraid I'll look like I'm sitting at home, doing nothing when I could be working to help support my family. I am afraid I won't be enough for my children. I'm afraid that I'll realize that I don't have anything inside me to fill up that creative time, anymore.
So I pray.