It has been a month of craziness unsurpassed. I held my breath and lowered my head into the wind, knowing there was nothing to do but get through it. But in living through the last few weeks, several things have become clear.
Last week I was a mother of two for thirty-six hours, and all I can say is, it was so easy. Unbelievably easy. For the first time I questioned our choice to clump so many children so close together. I began to doubt myself, to wonder if the desire for more children contains a fair dollop of self-righteous ego. Would I be a better parent, more patient, if I had only two?
I cling to the objective truth I discerned in days when I was sleeping more: that the short-term chaos reaps benefits I would regret missing out on later; that twenty years from now, I’ll never say, “Oh, I shouldn’t have done that;” no, in fact, I’ll be profoundly grateful for the richness of my life, and glad I looked long-term instead of being overwhelmed by the size of the task.
Even now, objectively speaking, I am grateful. Each of my has their own unique beauty, qualities the world can’t do without that offset the moments when they drive me crazy. But it is a humbling realization, knowing that I can never do for and with each of my children everything I would like.
While I was nursing yesterday I read the new issue of Liguorian cover to cover. William Rabior shared that the word “noise” comes from the Latin word “nausea.” Yes! I thought. The chatter of constant stimulation overstimulates more than my baby; it overwhelms me, too. My nerves coil tight; nervous energy zings from point to point inside my brain until I’m incapable of living in the moment, but spend my days bouncing from one obligation to the next, planning, always planning how to squeeze more, more, more into every day.
Michelle Francl-Donnay’s take on an examination of conscience brought me face to face with all this, and tied it all together. I don’t know that my life really looks all that different from many of yours. I may have more visible irons in the fire, but many of you work full time and come home to squeeze in a few precious hours with your family; many of you struggle to keep the house clean and get all the kids to their various appointments, just like I do.
Since we bought our new camera, I’m loving the ability to capture a sliver of the moments I’ve seen with my eyes, moments like I’m sharing today. But when I go back to look through them, I realize I’m living my life only half paying attention. And when I see these pictures, I realize how much I want to remember these moments. How much I want to experience them fully, with every sense, not just enough to be able to blog them, but to capture the feel of them in my skin, the taste of them on my tongue and the imperceptible smells in my nostrils. I don’t want to half-live.
When my little ones crawl up on my lap by twos, I want to revel in it, not feel worn out and put-upon by overstimulation. I don’t want to be constantly saying, “Later, later,” because I just have to get this savory, half-gourmet meal cooked. I want to be present in my children’s lives–and perhaps even more important, fully present in mine.
I don’t know what the answer is yet, only that I’m hearing a call that tells me to stop considering myself indispensible, and my time more valuable than my presence to those I love. To stop worshiping at the altar of productivity, and save more of my emotional energy for the flesh of my flesh and blood of my blood.
It’s time to learn to live in the moment.