It feels good to be here again. My writing time has taken a serious nose dive over the last several months. Here is a little back story.
In ordinary circumstances this blog is one of my social outlets. A place to put all the adult conversations (is it considered conversation if it is just me answering myself?) that bounce around my head all day. I’m a stay at home mom, which I LOVE, but it does mean that my conversations generally resolve around ABC’s and potty training or which Disney Princess is my favorite. I enjoy having an outlet for the deeper things that my children aren’t quite ready to dive into yet.
The last few months, however, have been filled with adult dialogue (real dialogue. You know, the kind where someone else answers me).
I spent two weeks in Washington getting to share some love and stem cells with my dad and then came back home to a house filled with a husband and children who I wanted and needed to catch up with, and my Mother-in-love who had been a Rockstar childcare provider for me.
She spent two months with us and my naptime writing time was more often conversation time. Also my children have been boycotting naps in a stage of passionate protest since I returned. I feel like they are trying to keep an eye on me to make sure I don’t continuing flying around the globe delivering body parts. I may have joked about using this a way of paying for vacations, but I think I’ll stick a little closer to home for the time being. Two full weeks away from home was a long time for my children (and myself).
It has officially been two months since I returned and my daughter still asks, semi-regularly, if I’m really back. I’ve made sure to put a real focus on our play time together and time spend reading and snuggling to assure them that mommy is home and has no intention of leaving again.
The extra focus on play time and pouring into my children has been so fun and we have shared many wonderful adventures together. We’ve dug in slime and experimented with volcanoes and “quicksand”, we’ve explored the woods and thoroughly enjoyed our sledding hill, we dove into fantasy stories and built forts. My son spent most of last week referring to himself as “King of the Northern Wonders” and a smorgasbord of stories erupted from that.
All this readjusting, between our families personal changes and the spread of Covid, has had me re-assessing what really matters in my home.
There have been fun things to come from that; I’ve invested time in larger works of fiction with the kids. Stories that I, otherwise, would have waited a few years to jump into have become a staple because we need a little fantasy in the drudgery and overwhelm. Isn’t it strange how often those two go together?
It’s been so fun to share the magic of Hogwarts with my children and discuss the joy of imagination and the importance of standing up to evil. To speak of friendship and bravery…and the value of humor. Laughing in the face of hardship and eating chocolate. Don’t tell me there isn’t wisdom to be found there.
There has also been a bit of a struggle as I adapted to not caring about things too much. Letting go of unnecessary rules and expectations I have placed on myself is great, but apathy isn’t. For me this is largely apparent in housework, there is a fine line between worrying less about the state of the house and sinking into a stupor of “does it really matter?”
The laundry is going to be unfolded soon anyway. Does it really matter?
The floors will be dirty again in no time. Does it really matter?
The dishes will still be there in the morning. Does it really matter?
There are millions of well meaning articles that tell us “No, it doesn’t. Just enjoy your kids. Enjoy your time. Relax.”
I’m not necessarily here to disagree with that. It’s comforting at many times, but total apathy is dangerous too and it will showcase differently in all of us. For me, when I stop caring about crumbs on the floor it is a sign that my mental health isn’t doing so well. I am not a better mom when I let my home go, I become a moody, distracted mother who sinks more into herself and pours less into her family.
You might have a different tell, a different trigger.
I’m just sorting myself out….because I hit that wall this week, it helps me to journal through it and maybe it will help someone else out there.
The breaking point happened for me on a weekday afternoon which I planned as a lazy day for myself. I settled into yoga pants and figured I may or may not get a work out that day, I tied my hair up and called it good. None of that is highly unusual, but my head space was. It wasn’t so much a head space of “I’ll enjoy a rest today” and more of “why should I bother?”
I vented a little and made plans with friends. I went upstairs and threw on a pair of jeans and a nicer shirt and took the kids out for a walk. I decided something did matter. The time mattered, my emotions mattered, my kids mattered and I chose to act accordingly. The effort of getting ready for the day helped, the fresh air helped so much, and I was able to enjoy my time with my people after pulling out of a funk.
My plans, unfortunately, have been canceled. Not one, but two, play dates canceled due to sickness and the fact that we are all being more cautious at present. It was disappointing to not get together, but I was able to remain encouraged because I had gone far enough to put in the effort.
I’ve been reading through the Book of Hebrews with some ladies at my church (a mixture of Zoom and in-person gatherings dependent on the timing) and we have been diving into the balance of grace and awe, forgiveness and obedience. The God of Sinai and the God of Zion.
I’ve been a Christian my entire life and I know the Sunday School answers, but I still get tripped up on this. How some passages sound so soft and delicate and others sound so foreboding and vengeful.
We talked about what really matters to God and the things we write in ourselves, it’s important to discuss but so hard to clarify. The things that one heart values might not move the other and we walk in tune with who God made us to be.
God delights in the beauty of his creation and calls some of us to emulate that in our own art. He calls us to serve, lead, and gather His people to Him and He has an expectation of obedience. Yet, still, there is grace.
I’ve been praying over this as I have been overwhelmed with some needs that fell in my lap and trying to coordinate them with the care and keeping of my own family. I know God desires me to follow through on caring for these people, I know it matters deeply to Christ and I know He has Grace when I feel that I’m dropping all the balls.
I think that’s the thing that can cause me to pause. Grace isn’t the belief that none of it really matters, it is realizing how desperately Christ cares for us and that He will help us pick up all the pieces we feel we are dropping.
It’s the reason a covenant written on hearts is so much better than a covenant on stone, because it can whisper to us in the midst of each individual situation. Like a good parent, showing us the way.
So as for the dishes and the floors and the time spent teaching and correcting. Yes, it does matter and, yes, it is okay if it is all falling apart and you need reinforcements.
The work inside the home matters. In the loneliness of the season and the confusion of the cyber masses….there are still lessons to be learned, life to be lived, and people to care for.