This new mom thing is amazing. I love everything about it, and to my surprise, I am even happy to wake up in the wee hours of the morning. My sweet boy,Sterling, has started smiling, giggling and talking (in his own baby language of course) While I am shamelessly in love with this little boy and this season of my life, it’s not all cool-sumer-breezes. At times, its more like the breeze blew a bee that got stuck in my hair. It’s scary and also really hard. Like all things so deeply rewarding as parenting is, it’s because you have worked so hard to overcome such amazing feats that you have a sense of pride in the end result. You get to watch the hard work unfurl in to something lovely and so worth it.
A few weeks ago, my mom (who is my primary help and supporter) was in Utah for work. The weeks she is gone are manageable but also shed a very realistic light on how challenging parenting is, especially single parenting. There’s no reprieve even to take a shower. All things that are unable to happen while I hold my son, happen when he is asleep. This particular week he was sick. The poor boy couldn’t fill a diaper, and we all know how painful that is! Like most children, this sick boy just wanted to be held, even when he was asleep. Freeing my arms was synonymous with tears this week. Mostly the tears were his but sometimes the tears were my own. I was also feeling sick and exhausted too. I was just well enough to keep functioning, but everything was miserable. While my head throbbed, I got myself together and calmed the boy just enough to get ourselves together and run some errands. As I was changing his diaper right before getting in the car, I realized we were out of diapers. This usually isn’t much of an issue, especially since we were on our way out already, but this week was different.
Two weeks away from bill day and my bank account had deflated just enough that I wouldn’t be able to maintain the required minimum balance and pay my bills. Being confronted with the idea of paying for my bank accounts brought out my extremely “frugal” side, if you will. I was going to close my accounts entirely, so an added, though small, but unforeseen cost took my emotional stability from “weak” to “on the brink.” I had no foreseeable income, even thought I had been active in two jobs the week prior. In fact, I had a weeks worth of work required in about 36 hours for one job and 12 hours of online video training for another. filling that amount of work would have been exhausting even with a perfectly content baby. My pay for both jobs can sometimes take up to 6 weeks, from time of submission, to make it to my account. Strapping on his last diaper we got in the car and headed for the store.
Thankful for the drive that would lull him to sleep, I looked forward to the quieting of my thoughts. Driving is my safe place. Just not this drive, not this time. My poor boy was upset and none of my tricks worked. I was in need of a nanny McPhee bag of tricks. His pacifier made no effect, nor did shushing or pumping the breaks at stops. When all of these fail I turn up the music and that usually distracts him long enough for him to fall asleep. This time it was only loud enough to drown out both of our sobs. My safe place, my emotional bubble of a car had been broken. It didn’t feel safe anymore, it was more like each of the factors weighing my heart down were tangible and stuffed inside my Subaru, tighter than a circus car of terrifying little clowns.
At the brink of total break down I called my mom, who couldn’t answer. Neither could any of my aunts or friends who are also moms. Realistically, as a mom there is no convenient time to talk on the phone and I know my family is very busy. Broken and discouraged, I cried out, “Where is my rest God!? You said in your word “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you REST”!! So where is my rest Lord?” Sinking in to my seat, I parked the car in the bank lot and took a few breaths, cleaned my face and made my way in to humbly face another discouraging event.
While talking with the banker, explaining why I needed to close my accounts she excused herself to talk with her supervisor. Walking back with a smile she suggested not closing the accounts, but waiving the minimum required balance for three months! I could almost inhale the rest. Emotional rest. I no longer had to hold myself up to this minimum, or fear unmanageable charges, at least for three months. Thankful for this gift and victory, we headed to the store. Having recovered my composure I called one more friend on the way. My dear Hattie answered the phone, despite juggling two of her own babies, and at the end of our conversation I was deeply thankful for the helpful suggestions of a veteran, and even more thankful for her affirmation and commiseration. She fed my soul, reminding me that I’m not the only one going through it, that it is really hard and that I’m not crazy or weak for having lost my mind. She fed my spirit and reminded me who God is, and that is is faithful to us, and to what He says. Reflecting on the relief of the events at the bank, and leaning on her faith, I agreed with an Amen.
After hanging up the phone I stopped at one last store to buy gas drops, a hail mary at this point. Opening the trunk to get the stroller out, the diapers and wipes were not there. I dug through my whole car and realized I had, in my emotional mess of a baby-brain day, left them at the register after having paid for them. For a split second my heart dropped with my countenance, my mind swirled and a tornado of emotions including panic kicked up. I thought I would lose my mind again but just as quickly as this all had come on, so did peace. It was okay. I decided to go back to the last store with my receipt (which I somehow grabbed separate from the products) and would do what ever I could. “I’m sure they have gas drops there too” I reminded myself.
The rest of the day, the week, weren’t all smooth sailing but just having that short conversation with Hattie had restored a part of me that made continuing seem possible. She has offered me that rest I had so angrily asked God about. Having had my spirit tended to, I made different efforts. I still had to hold my sweet boy while he napped but instead of incessantly trying to put him down so I could accomplish something else, I took time to rest by reading. My sister had just given me a book called Holy is the Day by Carolyn Weber. In this perfectly appropriate chapter Carolyn told of her own experience similar to mine. Emotional chaos, turning to a friend, and then she offered a resolve. I hadn’t quite gotten there myself and welcomed hers as my own. He friend told her that even Jesus got in a boat. After a long day of serving others, he too was exhausted and sent his disciples to town while he got in a boat. He took a respite. In order to actually serve others, to fill his role, he needed to be filled too.
Since then I have been practicing getting in my own boat. I am making a priority to take short moments to intentionally breath, pray, rest and be thankful. Easier now that my sweet Sterling sleeps, I go to the middle of the lake to savor the breeze, rhythm of the waves and presence of my God. So this is one of my first rewarding moments as a mother. To have gone through such a tremendous sequence of events and then learned that I can take care of my son and myself at the same time. I am able to acknowledge my own growth in this way, and that is deeply rewarding.