to those who “get” to hear me pontificate face-to-face as well as in print, my apologies for the repetition.
of the many layers of grief, anger, frustration & dumbfoundedness after ella’s death and birth, one is the dual call i feel to getting dirty as a stay-at-home-parent and in the outside-the-home world. dirty, of course, both figuratively and literally. and how the return of both in the near-ish future was taken away when ella died.
i’d hoped it would be a shorter time between the two, but i’d gotten quite used to eliot and ella being 3 1/2 years apart. that would mean, all told, that i could dedicate 5 or so years full-time to my kids at home breastfeeding, playing and establishing an attachment and then jump back in to the world of outdoor recreation or environmental theology or wherever the wind would have me (disclaimer: i do understand that working parents are also full-time parents, hopefully you’ll forgive my usage and we can move on together).
now, five years will turn into seven or eight by the time, or if, we have another child. and i’m quite bitter about this.
you see, the problem is that i’m a perfectionist. an enneagram 1, to be precise. and this makes me crazy. i want it all and believe that i can have it all if i just work hard enough, make enough self-sacrifice, and set the bar higher than it should be. (this makes me weirdly “good” at keeping my lenten disciplines, by the way.) but these two things: stay-at-home-motherhood and the working/volunteering world – i’m having a hard time getting them to co-exist in the now or near future. and so i’m forced to choose. not choose between work or more children, mind you, but between my ideal of how “work” and “more children” are defined for me, in my own head, and how they fit together.
the realities of life are messy. beautiful and wonderful, but messy.
i’ve mentioned here a time or two the struggles we’ve had with eliot’s red-light behavior and how we’ve linked it to spiritedness and sleep. today, in a desperate attempt to keep from repeating his meltiness of yesterday afternoon (up by 5:30, refuses to sleep during siesta – even though he’s obviously exhausted – and jumps on the bed instead), after mitch and i tried to get a very obviously tired little boy asleep for an hour and a half, i bailed on everything i had hoped to get done today, put him in the car and drove to elizabethtown on a totally irrational whim to buy the makings of a bean bag chair to create a “tiny space” in his room for quiet time that would also be the start of getting every toy out of his bedroom to i don’t know where so there wouldn’t be distractions and he’d sleep like an angel yeah right.
he fell asleep halfway to elizabethtown and i’d not brought any work or knitting with me except a book i’ve been meaning to re-read for a few weeks. i read the first page. eliot stirred, fussed, and finally was convinced to curl up on my lap in my driver’s seat in a parking lot outside hancock fabrics. we slept there together, awkwardly, beautifully, wonderfully, messy for over an hour. the latte i’d bought to enjoy my book with got cold, none of the three stores we visited after waking had bean bag chair fill which made me regret the $30 i’d spent on other supplies, we missed our opportunity to play in the warm sunshine this afternoon because we were in the car and in/out of stores, and i’m so far behind on work i’m starting to twitch.
this is what was on the first page of my book:
“let us remember that the life in which we ought to be interested is ‘daily’ life. we can, each of us, only call the present time our own … our lord tells us to pray for today, and so he prevents us from tormenting ourselves about tomorrow. it is as if [god] were to say to us: ‘[it is i] who gives you this day [and] will also give you what you need for this day. [it is i] who makes the sun to rise. [it is i] who scatters the darkness of night and reveals to you the rays of the sun.”
-gregory of nyssa, on the lord’s prayer
i also read this right before sitting down to put the above thoughts on “paper” while waiting for eliot to go to sleep (an hour after i’d hoped) so i can start checking things off my to-do list after dark which is the absolute worst time for me to get stuff done because i’m a morning person and my brain doesn’t function at night but so is my son a morning person which means morning work is impossible because will you play with me mommy, please, please and how can i possibly say no to that? and so i fumble.
the life i ought to be interested in is daily life. the present time is my own. pray for today. beautiful, wonderful, messy, today.
honestly, i wouldn’t trade that cuddly, squished nap in the driver’s seat for much of anything, not even a hot latte.