It's a bitterly cold Chicago night. As I look out our kitchen window, into the slightly clouded, but starless, navy sky, I can't help but shiver. Part of that could be my hair is still wet from a rare evening shower - of which I was accompanied by a toddler on a toilet watching Daniel Tiger. If ever there was a picture of #momlife, that was it my friends. Long gone are the lonesome bathroom breaks, television that doesn’t consist of Elmo or Curious George, and cars that can fit but two butts in the beautifully woven basket seats.
I sit here on this bitterly cold evening 34 weeks pregnant. Baby girl is moving and I am contemplating all that has changed in our lives these last two years. While any sane mother would tell you how “she wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world”, I am going to be the exception - the all too real reminder - that while that statement is certainly true, my actions and attitudes this week would scream otherwise.
Maybe it's the increasing and imminent arrival of our second child approaching, or maybe it's the sleepless nights I can't fight but curse because I know how fleeting sleep is going to become. Maybe it was just a hard week of motherhood. Either way, I have to hold onto the hope that I am not the only one. I cannot be the only mother who feels like my two-year-old is on a warpath and his battles are waged against me. I cannot be the only wife who selfishly and emptily argues with her husband. I cannot be the only woman whose patience is failing and feeling like I am gasping for air that isn’t there.
I made a reading resolution this year; I want to read at least one fiction novel, and one non-fiction leadership book each month. So far I have finished Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Shauna Niequist’s Present over Perfect. There is something so soothing when I wake at 2 AM, bladder full and mind racing, to open a book (albeit sometimes on my phone) and feel the steady decrease in my breathing and the controlled consistency in my pulse. I feel free when I read, as if I am trapped by my own mind throughout the day and the only solace I can seek is within the pages of a book. I am captivated and encouraged by words, and can relate so vividly with a good storyteller or writer. I just started another soul book (what I am calling my non fiction picks), The One Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan. I love the surprisingly simple truth he acknowledges - we succeed when we focus on ONE thing at a time.
With this title in mind, I awoke this morning and began to set my intentions on what my ONE thing is. I immediately opened my planner, my instagram, my Marco Polo, mind active once again and ready to begin the pursuit of my success. I have BIG dreams for my book business this year. I feel confident and challenged by the coming of Baby Girl, but I also cannot ignore the raging passion I have to help kids across the country in their own love of literacy. But as I began to flip through the trudges of social media and all my notebooks, I almost forgot about the tiny face that was staring at me, incessantly chanting my name and raging for my attention. I snapped. I usually do, if I’m being honest and ugly. “JUST ONE MINUTE.” One minute. One. Minute. With all the weight of my carelessness and all the hormones of being 34 weeks pregnant, I broke. In one second.
Why was I telling this beautiful boy to wait when I should be telling myself. I felt defeated and depleted and straight drained. And I had a verse from our Bible study bring itself so perfectly clearly into my mind that it could have shown up on the glass window and I wouldn’t have been surprised. “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV). Learn from me, Jesus says. So I did. I opened my Bible and began to read from that verse through chapter 12 and 13. Then something happened. The Holy Spirit spoke to me. Not in a weird, TV evangelist way, but in that soul searching, meet me in this moment, goosebumps on my skin, kind of way.
“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:34-37).
Talk about conviction (pun intended). I needed a heart check. And that realization awoke in me exactly what my ONE thing was; Jesus. I think it is safe to note that my second would be coffee. But in all seriousness, my God was the ONE thing I needed to focus on to succeed; to succeed as a mother, to succeed as a wife, to succeed as a woman, book boss, friend, teacher. It all came down to Jesus. These empty and ugly words that I was speaking were coming from a heart that was worn down and drained. Some people think that being a Christian means you have it all together, that life is all sunshine and unicorns, streams and valleys. But a life in Christ is most of the time the opposite. It is real and raw, narrow and steep. But that road is also cemented to God himself because of the blood of Jesus. There are definitely moments where life seems to overflow with joy and blessings - and I try to truly cherish those moments and truly those moments are always the aim to get back to. They are the hope we have to keep going, to sustain through the trials. This week has been a trial.
With my newly acclaimed conviction, thanks to the Holy Spirit, and the arousal of my ONE thing so evident to me now, I set my intentions for the day to revolve around that which was calming my heart. I would be lying if I said the rest of the day held incredible and almost supernatural patience with Andy - but that’s not real life. But I was more aware of my words, the way I responded to him, the amount of attention that I was supplying. We cried out to Hillsong Worship in the car as we ran errands and we had to have a time out in the afternoon because someone did not seem to listen when I instructed him to not eat play dough.
But that awful feeling of remorse, the sting of shame at yelling incessantly, it was not there today. I survived a shower listening to Daniel Tiger talk about snow and what to wear and caught glimpses through the shampoo and the shower curtain of the sweetest boy, equally immersed in the story being told, except with bright eyes and a thirsty mind. Mike and I made dinner together tonight. We called a truce to be friends again and let the pain of last nights empty words and hollow hearts expire. We all snuggled up after dinner to watch Wreck it Ralph (which was hastily interrupted by requests for Elmo and Cookie Monster). By the by - Chance the Rapper on Sesame Street was probably one of my most favorite TV moments, Mike and I laughed so hard we woke a sleeping baby we didn’t even notice fall asleep. These little victories are success for me. They indulge happiness, peace, comfort.
I was laying in bed tonight, hair damp, reading through my resolution titles, when I had an urge to write. These books will be here when Baby Girl plummets on my bladder at 3 AM, calling me out of bed once again. But the energy to write recently is so fleeting. So I snuck out of bed, my boys snuggled so close to one another, and strolled into the kitchen and grabbed my laptop.
I sat down at the table (instantly reminded that I need to put the cushion back on this wooden chair), looked out the window, and noticed the lightly clouded, starless, navy sky. I took a deep breath, and began to let the words stumble out of my mind and onto the keyboard, the tapping a therapeutic sound as I tiredly type away.
Those light clouds have moved away and the lights from the High School down the street are burning lower now. Everything seems a little more quiet; our street, the house, my mind. It is as I sit here in the silence that I fully understand and appreciate the sentiment that even though motherhood is hard - I hear it's the roughest hood you will ever go through - I honestly and truly would not trade it for anything in the world.
[Until I wake up tomorrow - then check with me again. Just kidding. Ok, half kidding. But really, the days are long but the years are short. Praises to the Lord that His mercies are new every morning. I will be holding on to all this hope as I turn off the computer and head back into bed before Baby Girl wakes me once again.]