A Peek Into (or Out of?) the Postpartum Cave

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From Hello Dearest, the official magazine of MOPS.

Yesterday while Seth slept on my chest, I finished an article and submitted it to a website. I think it was the first creative thing I’d done postpartum, besides drawing a breakfast menu for Sam. To say I’ve been residing in a cave feels about right. It’s not dark and depressing, but it is a tunnel, and it does block my vision of things I used to see, and bars me from things I used to do. That’s why finishing that article yesterday felt so good. It helped me glimpse the creative side of myself again

IMG_3641I’ve found it hard to write since Seth’s birth. Mainly because my hands are always full, but also because I haven’t felt I had anything new or edifying to say about this period in my life. What I’ve managed to scribble in my writer’s notebook lately mostly goes something like this: “I didn’t know what busy was until I had two kids.” “I am exhausted.” “My brain is on the fritz.” “I feel like a crappy parent.” “I wish I could relax sometimes.” “Life is beautiful, but this is just a hard season, you know?”

Another thing that’s been hard during this postpartum period is reading my Bible. I’m too distracted. Too busy. Too bursting with my own unexpressed, unprocessed thoughts to take on the grand themes of God’s Book. And I was having a lot of guilt about this lack of Bible reading, as we “good Christians” do, until I sat down and examined this feeling, and had the following inner dialogue.

My faith feels stagnant right now. Maybe even in remission…because I’m too busy feeding my children (literally) to be fed spiritually. So how am I supposed to grow in my faith?

Share what I already have.

But how can I share my faith right now, when I’m in a “cave”? (Literally, when I don’t see people besides my kids on a daily basis?)

Write. Write about what you’ve experienced God doing in the past; also, write your experiences now. Maybe these daily details don’t seem edifying today, but later, when you have time and perspective, you can help others who are muddling through the same tunnel.

Indeed, the literature that has touched me during this postpartum period has come from other mother-writers, writing of their years in the trenches. I recently joined MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), and besides the moms-in-the-flesh I’ve met at our physical meetings, I’ve become connected  to a number of mom-writers, through the MOPS blog and Magazine, Hello, Dearest, who have inspired me. 

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The current theme of Hello, Dearest is rest, with a number of articles about reawakening the creative parts of ourselves and doing activities that truly rest our souls (not just numb our brains)–and this theme was something I needed to attend to. I’ve needed to rest, through creating, again.

And so I wrote that magazine article yesterday–I created something–and because I couldn’t write edifying things about my current cavewoman state, I wrote about lessons learned in the past.

In time, I’m sure I’ll gain the needed perspective (and empty hands) to be able to write inspiring things about these postpartum days and beyond, because God has proven faithful to me in that way before.IMG_3614

If I’m tempted to forget that hard moments can make for inspiring stories, I just have to look at the stack of boxes filled with my first memoir…currently sitting in my cave…(in other words, not being circulated except by my dad, who is lugging a case of books around Minnesota on radio advertising sales calls for me…thanks, Dad!). Anyway, my first memoir is making the rounds among Adventist Book Centers around the country; with Paul Coneff and Straight 2 the Heart Ministries (whom I wrote The Hidden Half of the Gospel with); and finding its way into the homes of friends, family, and a few unknown readers who’ve left me good reviews.

All in all, despite my current cavewoman status, I am feeling good these days: still no postpartum depression (although people keep asking me because of my history with depression), and forming some thoughts about parenting…which I’m jotting in my writer’s notebook until God tells me it’s time to polish them up for the public. I can’t see much yet from within the tunnel, but one thing I know: I’ve started the process of crawling out.

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My little cavemen. Pretty good guys to be stuck in the tunnel with:)
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2 thoughts on “A Peek Into (or Out of?) the Postpartum Cave

  1. ccyager April 29, 2016 / 3:41 pm

    “But how can I share my faith right now, when I’m in a “cave”? (Literally, when I don’t see people besides my kids on a daily basis?)”

    This statement startled me. Don’t your kids count? Aren’t you sharing your faith with them by the way you talk with them, treat them with respect, care for them, etc.? They’re people, and from your photos, pretty darn cute people, too! I love Seth’s wild hair! You’re sharing your heart with your family. How is that not sharing your faith?

    I’m not religious. But I know that I share something of myself with whomever I’m with, whomever I encounter on a daily basis. It doesn’t have to be a specific, separate thing. People notice how I am in the world, how I’m living my life, and that’s how I share.

    It sounds like you’re doing just fine, going through what any parent with two quite young kids go through. Be sure to speak with adults (non-moms, i.e. women who don’t have little kids at home, not that I have anything against moms!) several times a month. My mom friends hunger for adult conversation and adult intellectual stimulation.

    Congratulations on finishing the article and submitting it! Cinda

    • lindseygendke April 29, 2016 / 4:00 pm

      Good point, Cinda. I am working hard to train my kids in the way I want them to grow up, and that is no small task, and it definitely is sharing my faith. I guess it just feels like other parts of my life are inactive, parts that make me come alive, so even while I am pouring into my kids, it still feels like something is missing. Good advice about talking to other women; I will look for opportunities to make this happen.

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