Lately I've been thinking about the different lines that I straddle. I breastfeed and bottle-feed. I work, but I still spend most of my time at home. Sometimes I'm awake all night, and sometimes I'm awake all night and all day. (Kidding.) (Except not really.)
I started thinking about high school, and how I always hung out with lots of different groups. And college, and how I changed my major seven times and spent six years full time in college (piano, sociology, French, English, psychology, neuroscience, nursing. I managed to finish the last two).
And then I started to think about my life right now, and all the things I want. I want to play with my children and have a clean house. I want to spend time with my husband and go to bed early. I want to read the four books I'm in the middle of so I can start four more, and I want to play the piano more and start playing guitar again, and I want to exercise, and I want to cook a fancy dinner every night, and I really should start meditating and get back to yoga. I want to take a long bubble bath and actually put lotion on afterward. I want to listen to music and podcasts and catch up on my shows on Netflix. I want to become a lactation consultant and have time to write for a few hours a day and maybe become a certified nurse midwife, because why not?
I want too much, and I don't know what to choose. When I wrote about simplicity a few posts back, I wasn't sure what exactly it was that I was craving, but I think it was this -- to know what I want, and be able to pursue it. To have enough wants to fill the day and no more.
I know about priorities, and putting first things first. My husband and children have to be first, my relationship with God second, and honestly, there isn't much time left for anything else, and if there was, it would probably need to be sleep.
But my soul is so, so hungry. I feel like the buffet of life is before me and my plate is already piled high. I have the main course, I have the vegetables, but I want some dessert. Don't get me wrong -- family is what I would choose, and what I have chosen. It brings me joy as it fills my day, but it also pulls me from some of the other things that bring me joy. I guess that is the test of motherhood -- becoming unselfish, learning to subjugate all those other desires and caring for a family. Part of me feels guilty for wanting something apart from it and in addition to it. The other part of me is squeaking Sophie in N.'s face and typing as fast as I can.
I read an essay a few years ago by a woman in "the tired thirties" who wanted to write but couldn't stay awake long enough to do it. There was always more laundry to fold, more places to drive her kids, more meals to cook, more fires to put out. She finds a moment of stillness and revels in it, and then describes her gratitude for her exhaustion and the fullness of her life.
I'm not there yet. I'd like to be, but right now it is so hard to keep my eyes open, so hard sometimes to keep a smile on my face, to show up for my family again and again while my well is empty. Right now, I feel like Sisyphus, rolling my boulder up the mountain and watching it fall to the valley again as soon as I turn my back.
I am surrounded by women who graciously care for their families without complaint. I'm not so naive as to believe that they haven't given anything up, that they haven't also experienced the soul hunger I have. So my question is -- how do you transcend it? How do you make peace with the fatigue and the dinners thrown on the floor and the worry, the inability to get even fifteen minutes in the shower before someone is crying for you? Is this one of those things where I have to take care of myself so I can take care of others (but where does the time come from?) or am I just horrifically selfish for wanting things in addition to my family life?