Saturday, February 13, 2016

Hungry.

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?

3 comments:

  1. Oh Lorren, I just caught up on your blog and this post is really speaking to me. I have really felt the struggle lately of not being able to keep up with it all. I have the thing I've always wanted and I'm so so grateful, but it's tough to also do the other things I want and need to do. Being a mother is as full of a full time job as I could ever imagine so how do I give them everything but fill my own well and also, you know, make dinner??? Maybe I could just do ONE other thing besides mothering each day. I might make dinner OR I might do ten minutes of yoga. Or go on a walk OR write in my journal. Because clearly I can't do all those things each day even though I so want to. It's so hard and I don't have any answers, just shared understanding. :) I miss you and wish we could talk about this stuff in person!

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  2. Such a true post! And agreeing with Kristin. Take time to fill your well too because you can't serve from an empty vessel. Make it as high a priority as you would taking care of kids etc... Then find a way to make it happen at least once a day- use the hubby, find a sitter, swap with another mom... It's amazing how having that piece of self back can translate into wanting to be with your kids again, loving your hubbie. Sometimes it's 15 min in the shower or an hour reading with noise cancelling headphones on. ;) You can feel the difference it makes and when you do or don't do it. Hope this helps ;) That's something I'm struggling with this week with sick kids not getting out of the house or a break... Take things slow and find joy in your time finally getting to do your passion.

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  3. I have found with myself, I often use what little "down time" I have--usually stolen when my kids are distracted--on stuff I don't actually want to do.. like check facebook, etc. I think sometimes I imagine I need to devote these large blocks of time to things that I love to be satisfied, but I believe the Lord can magnify our efforts. We are doing His work, raising these children, after all. I love this quote I read from Elder Scott recently. He was talking about learning to love to paint, but it can apply to anything. "Even infrequent efforts to try and express feelings with a brush and paint continue to provide a constantly renewing source of pleasure and benefit." Good luck to you, I hope that you can find a good balance for you. I have to say, though, that really needy phase with when your baby is so little, I always feel the way you described, and slowly, without me noticing, my life calms down a little bit and I don't feel quite as anxious. I will pray that God will bless you!

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