Monday, September 2

A Letter to My Future Self

I am sitting here at 9 pm, with chores done, groceries put away, and a clean house.  I could take this time to read, sew, or watch TV with my husband if I wanted to, because the kids are sleeping peacefully and I have no doubt they'll be in their beds until 7:00 in the morning.  It's taken awhile to get to this point, because the only reason the chores are done right now is because they actually help me do the chores now.  They are forming habits of picking up after meals (sweeping and clearing the table), and putting toys and play things away before bedtime.  They help dust and vacuum.  They help take care of our pets and they can stack the books nicely on the bookshelf.   They play while I do the deep cleaning, so I actually have time to get it done.

They are 6 years 8 months, 4 years 10 months, and 3 years 2 months.  3 years and 2 months is young, but he is not a baby or a toddler.  He is a pretty self-sufficient preschooler.  He needs help putting his shoes on but that's about it.

I am telling you, future Stephanie, this information, because in a few months you'll probably be in the pit again.  You'll know in your mind you should be happy and you should be counting your blessings, but your house will be a mess and you might not be eating as well as you've been getting used to.  You'll probably smell like sour breastmilk, have a few extra pounds (or more) lingering, be EXHAUSTED to the max, and feel like running away. 

But that won't be all.  You'll want JUST ONE MOMENT to yourself, you might let the baby cry in his or her bouncer seat for a moment so you can go to the bathroom by yourself.  You'll let the older kids watch too many movies and school probably won't go as well as you want.

You'll feel like you're the last person whose needs are being met, you'll think you were crazy for actually wanting another baby.  You'll beg, pray, and plead with God to change things.  To just let this baby sleep.  He may or may not answer you the way you want (probably not the way you want, because He knows what's best for you, afterall, and rarely is what you want the same thing as what's best). 

When you're feeling beat up, done, and ready to run away, remember this post.  Remember how you begged God for this gift of a baby, how badly you craved his or her smell, and how badly your breasts want to nurse another baby.  How you watch women give birth and wish it were you, even after the sacrifice of giving up your body for 40+ weeks, the intensity of labor and delivery and recovery, you still want this.  From the bottom of your heart.

Remember that saying yes to God and being open to His will is never a mistake.  Remember that He provides and He blesses.  You, Stephanie, are not the provider- you are His instrument and these children are His.  They are entrusted to you, and no one else, because He deemed you worthy of being their mother.  Remember this.

Hold on.  It will get easier.  Remember today?  You had a nap, because the kids washed the car while Ryan cleaned out the garage.  You cleaned the kitchen while Jack played "knight" int he playroom while Beth and Luke played in the sprinkler in the backyard.  Then Jack helped you fold a load of clothes, talking to you about how he wanted to make four piles of clothes instead of only three.  You and Ryan each had time to yourselves to do some chores, then sit on the patio with ice cold water while the children played with each other.  Because they're old enough to do that now- to not need to be held and entertained every single second.  And while you don't really miss that feeling yet (being needed all the time), you hear that one day you will miss these moments.  For now, you can sit back and savor them, because you know that come 7:00, it will be showers, books, and bedtime, then you get another several hours to do whatever you want.  How easy this is!

I know you've been through hard times before.  I know somewhere in your memory is the pain and dark feelings of motherhood.  Luckily now, three years down the road, those memories are distant.  They are a part of you always, and whatever you're going through now will be added to that box of dark memories in your past.  But the box will get shoved to the back again, collect dust, and fade.  Because that's what time does- it fades memories.  The good ones too, unfortunately, but that's why you have this blog- to remind you of how good and beautiful and amazing your life is.  You are blessed, even now, in your pain.

So wait it out.  This baby may cry lots, or s/he may sleep lots.  He might be just like your other babies, or he might be a whole new sort of child you've never had before.  Whatever the case, you WILL get through to the other side and you WILL learn to just let things go.  To manage your expectations.  To help Beth, Luke, and Jack be siblings who love and help.  To let the house collect dust while you nurse your sweet love.  You will enjoy cooking meals again, you won't be doing diaper laundry forever, and you will lose the weight and feel like your old self again.  You might even have another vacation with just Ryan, though with four kids now instead of just three, things might get a little tricky!  You will laugh, you will cry, you will feel righteous anger, and you will be selfish.  Remember- one day at a time.  Think of the future but get through your day.  Get some sunshine in your eyes.  Try to walk around the block a few times a week.  Ask for help.  Eat well- take your vitamins!!!

Remember what you say to yourself now- "Jesus, I trust in you."  It's about heaven.  They're not your kids- they're on loan from the Lord.  How are you helping them on their journey back to the Lord?

Most of all, breathe.  Take a step away if you need to- don't act in the moment.  Breathe, sweet mama.  Breathe.  This time will be over before you know it.


mama schmerb said...

Present Steph has such an awesome and wise friend in Future Steph! How blessed you are to have such a friend!!! ;)

Anonymous said...

Absolutely superb, Present Stephie!
You have a gift in the ability to perfectly encapsulate a multitude of feelings and emotions, shared by perhaps millions of women through thousands of years, into a few surgical paragraphs. You hint of circular time, and a have finely tuned sensibility to the Eternal. In fact, that is your greatest strength; that is, the capacity to look beyond the minutiae of the merely banal and there, of all places, to find God. Very, very beautiful essay.... think about sending it off for publication.

Erin said...

Wow!! I NEEDED this post. God is awesome and led me here tonight as I take a deep breath while my 8 week old is FINALLY content in her swing for a few minutes. I know that people say it gets easier but it is so hard to see that when you can't seem to comfort your crying baby in the middle of the night. In the midst of it all, I feel God's presence when I see that gummy little smile when I'm dragging myself out of bed in the morning to nurse my baby when what I really want to do is sleep. Thank you so much for the reminders!!! This bleary new mom needed it!! :)


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