I remember the moment I knew this would be different: sitting on the floor in my room at the midwife clinic, nursing my two-day-old while explaining multiplication tables to my oldest. How far apart these worlds are, I thought. The world of school and homework and navigating friendships, and the world of nursing and night-waking and diapers. How will I bridge the gap?
That question remains, almost six months later. Just today, at a lunch for moms in Ezra’s class, another mother of four said finding a daily rhythm was the hardest part of bringing her last baby home. I felt a camaraderie with her, though we speak separate languages and grew up in different cultures, we understood the mama in each other. This has been hard, this meshing of worlds. I have gone over it a thousand times in my mind, the many ways I could alter life, however slight, to be able to manage this better. If I could just find a time for Ivy to nap before school pick up. If Ezra and Harper would just fall asleep a little earlier. If Jones wouldn’t take so long to finish his homework.
But somewhere along the line, I lost the joy of bringing up babies. It slipped behind the washer with the dirty socks and was littered among the never-picked-up blocks in the toy room. I thought new routines, more expectations, and better menu planning would bring it back. I thought if mom knew what everyone should be doing, and when, we might be able find a small semblance of collective sanity. It’s been quite the opposite, in fact. I feel like I’ve squashed more smiles than I’ve created. Pushing an agenda just never works well for me and my little people — they have their own desires, however small, which deserve respect from the big people in their lives. When our agendas collide, which they inevitably do, the bigger person ends up feeling rather small on the inside, as ideas and creativity and childish exuberance get crushed by the not-yets and the hurry-ups and the time mongering of the adult world. I wonder how many times I must go around this block?
Last night, I sifted through pictures from our days without school schedules and longed for those times, the seemingly carefree adventures of yesterday. Look at those happy faces! When was the last time I greeted my children with tenderness in the morning? Was it school timetables that brought me here? Or life with a baby? But I know just one thing can’t explain where I am. Life is stressful, and sometimes we find ourselves in place we never intended to be. I respond to stress with simultaneous desires to control and to retreat, both of which wound my little people in a variety of ways. But I’m awake, and I’ve repented, and I’m ready to move on.
I’ve been thinking that what I needed was to slow down, which seems to be the Almighty Prescription for Everything these days. But you know what? I can’t slow down. My life circumstances won’t let me. My quickly-growing baby girl needs fed, my middle two need to go to the park, my oldest needs help with his math, and the chores around me never end. I need a solution that meets me where I am, that doesn’t cause me to wish away my circumstances because THEN I would be a happy person. If only there wasn’t so much noise. If only I had more alone time. If only I had fewer people’s lives to organize. Not true. I don’t need another internet meme telling me to take pause and find quiet, because those are hard to come by.
No. What I need is to see the river of my days, raging white rapids that they are, and dive in without fear. Because Jesus is not standing on the bank with me — he is in the water, waiting. I need to forget my alone time. (Christ will sustain me.) I need to close my eyes in the midst of noise. (Christ will sustain me.) I need to thank God for each and every opportunity to serve the little people in my home. (Christ will sustain me.)
I don’t know how many times I have circled this issue. Eventually, it will stick, won’t it? Christ will sustain me. Even in the midst of a messy, rhythm-less life, Christ will sustain me. Christ will sustain me.