Mind of a Mom

IMG_0680Someone asked me recently what it’s like to be a mom, and I said: “It’s like having my mind scattered in pieces all around me.” Gone are the days of setting my mind to one task and hammering away until it’s done—or one idea and thinking it entirely through.

When you sign up for mom-hood, you sign away your ability to focus entirely on any one thing, except your child(ren). What results is a scattered bunch of thoughts flitting through your mind—and a smattering of baby toys, burp cloths, laundry, and paperwork dotting your furniture—that hang in limbo for days on end without resolution.

Just because (mostly because I can’t think of an otherwise coherent post), here are a few pieces of my mind lately:

I’m really sick of not fitting into anything but yoga pants. Despite daily walks with baby and exercise videos a couple times a week, I’ve only lost half of what I gained during pregnancy. (That puts me at twenty-five pounds to go. FYI, Sam is three months old now.) So it’s time to bring out the big guns. Hubby and I are going to (try to) start doing P90X four times a week after baby goes to bed.

He (the baby) is doing pretty well on that front. I’m happy to report that he’s sleeping a seven- or eight-hour stretch every night, with a 3:00-ish feeding, then sleeping two or three more hours. Can’t complain about that.

But I do still complain. I really wish he’d sleep until 7:00. He gets up anytime between 5:30 and 7:00. My hubby gets up for work at 6, and I get up with him to have my morning devotions—if Sam hasn’t gotten me up first. Until Sam stops the middle-of-the-night feedings, I told God I really don’t want to get up before 6; so if he (God) wants me to spend time with him, please let Sam sleep long enough for me to do it.

On that note, I still obviously have control freak tendencies. I still want to control my life entirely too much, not letting God be God. So that tells me I better NOT skip my devotion time. I need God to set me straight every day.

I am constantly toying with when and how to accomplish my to-do’s during the day, including Bible time. I still haven’t figured out when to write on any weekday but Monday, when my sis-in-law watches Sam. By the time I’m done with baby care and basic household upkeep, there’s no time left for writing. I’ve been logging Sam’s naps and feedings for the last week, hoping to spot patterns around which to build my day. Happily, he has some, but they are “loose” patterns—really too loose for much scheduling.

Most frustrating for me about being a SAHM (stay-at-home mom) is that I feel my talents are going to waste. My weaknesses, not my strengths, are called forth every day. As I’ve written before on this blog, I get little to no satisfaction from housekeeping, because it’s a never-ending task with non-lasting rewards. Anything I accomplish is quickly erased by more dirt, dishes, dogs, or laundry. The blessing here—and it’s a big one—is that my investment in Sam is and will be rewarded. I get to watch him grow up (smiles and laughs are awesome rewards right not), and then, hopefully, to become the godly kind of a man my hubby and I are trying to raise.

I suppose these special moments with Sam cancel out the maddeningly mundane ones. A child changes a person like nothing else can. It’s hard to believe that when he was born, I felt awkward talking “baby” to him. Now, it just flows out of me. What’s more, I can’t be away from him for a few minutes without picturing his chubby cheeks and bright eyes. Hubby and I got a sitter today for five hours so we could clean out our garage, and by the end of it we were both dying to see him.

So, what to do with these pieces of my mind? Right now I tote them around, trip over them once in awhile, and pick one up to do something with when it’s imperative (before tossing it back onto the scrap heap). But for the most part, besides damage control and baby care, I don’t get much done.

It’s a love-hate life. I love caring for my baby. I hate having my mind cracked into gazillions of pieces.

What does it mean that I started seriously thinking about a second child last week? I told hubby it meant I wanted to get our target two kids out of the way so I could return to other parts of my life more quickly. He told me it meant I was selfish. But I already knew that. Just look at my divided mind!

Ah, me. I hope I won’t look back on these years only to realize I missed out on the good times.

And that’s a look into the mind of a mom.

Going Home

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My dad called last night to check on me. He’d been reading my posts from last week and wanted to make sure I was “okay.” Also to confirm travel plans for this week when I will go see him.

“So you’re feeling depressed? Are you feeling better?”

Since another family member has long been diagnosed as bipolar, I think Dad is extra sensitive to signs of mental illness. It’s understandable. And though I didn’t appreciate these inquiries when I was sixteen, today I think they’re sweet. He and my mom are the only ones who really ask about my mental health anymore, since I’ve been off medication for about eight years.

Thankfully I am able to answer, as I did last night, “I’m feeling much better, thank you. It was just a bit of the blues, and some female hormones getting the best of me.”

Thank God, I do feel better.

But that’s the thing these days. Even when something painful triggers bad feelings, I know they’re just passing feelings. None of that abysmal stuff of the past.

Like with visits home.

Used to be these visits triggered deep depths of anger and sadness.

Because of the divorce, I always miss half of my visit time with each parent and my little brother. The ‘rents live hours apart (and both are far from the airport), so though I buy a plane ticket for a week, I only get to see each for about half that time.

Needless to say, visits are complicated.

For years, when I was about to make a visit, I would typically spend the days leading up to it grumbling about the inconvenience. Anger bubbling up again at the awkwardness left over from divorce. Sadness that the awkwardness would never go away.

And, oh, I can get pretty low rubbing my nose in the past—and I have. Sometimes, in the past, returning from a visit was even worse, as I got to thinking about how a few days were not enough—and how long it would be until the next visit (usually six months to a year).

Maybe some of these thoughts were unconsciously playing in my head last week as I felt the illusion of the abyss, though I didn’t acknowledge them.

But over the weekend, something happened to remind me: my life is not that bad.

After church, I found myself talking to a new couple from Romania, the first real conversation I’d had with them since they’ve started visiting our church.

The woman is pregnant, and due this very week, in fact. Because I knew they were from far away—and I am sensitive to being far from home—I got to wondering: Does this lady have any friends or family nearby to help with the baby?

So I asked her.

After describing how miserable the pregnancy had been in the beginning—constant vomiting, dangerous weight loss, and inability to eat or sleep—she told me she’d lost both parents at a young age. Now she has only one or two family members left…and they are still in Romania. In the states, her husband is really all she has. Still new to this area, she doesn’t even have a church family yet.

“That must be hard,” I said, over the lump growing in my throat.

“Oh, it’s not so bad,” she said, eyes bright, face brave. “We’re always seeing and hearing interesting things; we get to meet a lot of interesting people.”

She proceeded to tell me about the groups of people they’ve met at various churches they’ve attended over the years, moving from state to state for her husband’s job.

Through it all, she kept a smile on her face.

Does she really mean it? I wondered. If I were her, all alone and pregnant in a new state without so much as a church family to call my own, I think I’d be depressed. Perhaps she really is. But she carries on, as we all must.

Readers, I have to apologize. I want this blog to be positive and godly and uplifting. But sometimes I find myself hovering a little closer to melancholy than I want to.

Though it’s not an excuse, my parents tell me I was a melancholy child. My husband agrees that my personality still drifts that direction.

I want to show you how far I’ve come from depression and sadness, but sometimes, with a personality that tends toward the negative, it’s hard. And I’m not going to lie.

So I write about sad feelings hoping you realize I’m just being honest—to show that, though one’s life might, overall, be “re-set” from broken and despairing to hopeful and healing—that doesn’t mean all sadness leaves.

It just doesn’t stay like it used to.

But knowing, recognizing, and acknowledging when bad roots are stirred up allows me to take them to God once again. Allows me to open my heart, once again, and say:

“God, it hurts. And I don’t ask you to fix everything just today (because I know you will in the future). But for today, here’s my heart. Thank you that Jesus died for my broken heart. Thank you that His heart and Your heart were broken as He carried all my hurt and pain to death on the cross, as He suffered and died for me, and rose again in victory over the death and decay of our mortal bodies and wounded hearts, so I could claim my inheritance as Your daughter.”

Though I have to pray this way daily, He delivers daily. Fresh batches of grace every time I need them. And I’m sure I’ll need them again, soon.

This week I’ll get to my dad’s and have a jolly good time laughing and talking over Scrabble and coffee—and at Mom’s I’ll enjoy the home-cooked meals and those mother-daughter conversations I can’t have with anyone else. It’ll be a good time, and infinitely more fulfilling than past visits, when walking over the old family threshold used to bring tears.

I’ll probably battle some more resentment when I have to part from Dad on day three—then I’ll face it again as I wave goodbye to Mom and little bro at the airport on day seven.

But I will recover quickly, as I remember that it won’t be too long until I go home for good—my real home—where there will be no more tears, no more regret, no more long car rides, limited visitations, or broken families. This is the hope that heals—and brightens bad days.

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Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Rev. 21:1-4, NLT)