I have some embarrassing news.
I’ve been doing this thing, (well up until God revealed it to me this weekend while praying with Davin), that when things were getting stressful, I’d imagine I was somewhere else. I did this for like, weeks.
Now, I know that sounds harmless enough, but assure you, it’s not.
It was killing my life. Like, my real one. Because when my real one was getting to stressful I’d imagine I was just… somewhere else. Anywhere. A beach, a spa. A desert. I didn’t care, as long as in my imagination, I was alone. And it was silent. And no one needed anything from me in my imaginary world. It could be a foreign country where I don’t even know the language and that seemed easier in my mind than wherever I was at the moment. I was just gone in my mind. Because it seemed easier than facing my real emotions on what was really happening. It seemed safer.
Sometimes I hate that I have emotions at all. I just wish I didn’t feel stressed or angry or anything. I’ve told God more than once, “why did you give me emotions if I can’t even handle them properly?” I know, what a whiner.
Instead of praying, I’d just sigh a sigh of discontentment and then imagine myself away. It didn’t really make me happy, it just seemed easier than really accepting that I completely fail and that I still need God. I don’t like that I still need God. I wan’t to be perfect on my own.
Here is a first world problem example from last Thursday of a time when I mentally tried to escape, if you don’t feel like hearing a negative parenting experience, read on past the italics. Here’s the scene: Last week, we arrived to swim lessons 20 minutes early because we had to pay for lessons on new credit card because the old one was hacked. Swim is stressful because everyone has to go potty before they swim, and there is a fine line between on time and too early. Too much time sitting and waiting with three small persons in bathing suits can create mutiny. So, I took the kids potty and had something like fourteen minuets left. More than enough time to handle the payment, I am such a responsible mother who has her act together. Not so. We waited in line behind ONE person for like over twelve minutes because they had a thousand good questions and were brand new, but didn’t want to be on a schedule, just pick a day once in a while and come… so they are looking at calendars and I am trying not to say negative things in my mind about people who can’t just make a decision and pick a day! After this person who has no lessons scheduled gets a full tour of the facility, the receptionist comes back in a leisurely manner. I then attempt to pay as quickly as possible and it still takes over five minutes to figure it out because computers are confusing and her’s was unfortunately from the 1990’s, then… wait for it, Ellie poops her swim diaper. Perfect. Once we finish, I rush the kids to pick up the mess on the floor, rush them back to the bathroom, attempt to put Ellie in a new swim diaper (at least I had an extra), and we are now LATE for swim. I accept absurd defeat. We are now wasting money on swim lessons that aren’t happening. This should not have happened like this. I tried so hard to be responsible. And now the older two kids are looking under the stall at some other woman and her child (I’ve told them NOT to do this a million times), then they are touching bathroom floor, Ellie’s poop falls onto a bench and I’ve about lost it. We are late to lessons even though we were here TWENTY minuets early! There is poop on a bench, a toddler is laughing, and my kids faces are near the bathroom floors!!! AGGGGHHH! All I said was, “SIT DOWN NOW.” and then point my finger to a space on a bench. It not only put fear into my children, who quickly acquiesced, but I believe also into the poor woman and her daughter who probably thought I was the most stressed, frazzled and grumpy woman to ever parent children. She cowered out of the stall and went on her way. When we finally made it to the pool, we were late and I was not smiling.
As I hashed and rehashed how in twenty short minuets I went from relaxed and happy to stress-case, I told God all about how all satan has to do is get me in a bathroom alone with three small children and I will loose my mind all up in he-ah! But that doesn’t matter. God is bigger than bathrooms, and late swim lessons. But in my mind, I wasn’t even giving him the chance to be.
I just sighed, told God again that I obviously wasn’t fit for this job and he should just retire me and send me somewhere that doesn’t involve me being perfect.
I didn’t take the time to hear him tell me that he hasn’t called me to perfection.
I was already gone. In my mind I was just in some trees, staring. It was quiet and I was alone. And at least there I wasn’t ruining little peoples lives by not being able to handle my emotions in public bathrooms.
My kids were happy swimming. I was watching them and wishing I was a perfect parent who never made mistakes. I was disqualifying myself again, telling myself how I should have done better.
So, this is bad for a number of reasons, I get that. And giving myself a mental lobotomy/vacation is not the answer. Going away in my mind didn’t even make me feel any better, it just made me feel nothing, which is the gateway to apathy. Scary.
Over the last few weeks, I had been slowly detaching myself, and my emotions from my own life. From my children, from my marriage, from anything that made me feel something negative. And it was beginning to affect my actual life, at least on my end. Fortunately, it quickly caught up to me and God revealed the problem.
I would never in a million years actually leave my family, not physically. But I was doing it. In my mind. In my spirit, I was basically checking out. They were all there, yelling, touching bathroom floors, doing whatever was too much, and I was just like, “I can’t even handle this anymore, I want an imaginary life where I don’t feel frustrated.”
After a weekend of feeling down and restless, the Lord revealed in prayer to both Davin and I that mentally checking out was not helping us. It was detaching us from our family. From each other. After we prayed, we committed to holding each other accountable, by texting or calling when we felt like mentally escaping, and instead just asking for prayer and then waiting for God to show up.
Here’s how my week has been. Besides amazing.
And here’s a song for you to listen while you read, if you’re into that kind of thing. It’s called Pieces by Andrew Belle.
So, I currently have a horrific cold, the kind where your entire face is leaking. I took medicine to help and I haven’t taken cold medicine in like over three years, because normally I just deal. So, I felt pretty hideous, but here is Dani. I spent some one-on-one time with her in her room. She put her crown on me and said,
“You look like a beautiful mommy.
You look better than anything.”
I had to stop and take a picture, and then type out what she said, because I wanted to remember that moment forever, and share it with her when she was grown, to remind her of who she is.
Here’s Ellie this morning during our date (the twins were in preschool) and she’s wearing my old baby bonnet.
Here is Dani kissing my leg this afternoon because I don’t feel good.
We read this in a book last week and started saving our boxes for a town…
We made the town today
It was messy and chaotic, but we all enjoyed ourselves.
I asked Ellie what she wanted her store to be called, she said, “green.”
I made a streetlamp.
My church slogan was inspired by Kid President’s post, An Open Letter to Moms.
I feel it’s also necessary to share that I made a hair boutique with a drawing of a poodle and an glorious old woman with big white hair, and a slogan that says, “the higher the hair, the closer to God.” I plan to have very big hair when I am older. It will be the biggest.
When I asked Dani what her store was called, she said, “a hand store, where if your hand is hurting, they make it better.” I feel like she might be in a nurse or a surgeon when she grows up.
This firehouse is an ode to my Grandpa Jack. He was a fireman in Alameda, CA. He once did a safety demonstration of how to jump off a building onto one of those fireman catcher things.
It’s called a life net. He jumped down three stories and landed wrong, breaking his leg. He never let the crowd know, he just jumped up smiled and walked off on a broken leg, everyone left feeling safe thinking that life nets were probably a good option and not to be afraid of them.
I saw the film, The Giver a few weekends ago. It was perfect timing. I was really down and not sure why I was so despondent over life. It wasn’t until the end of a day by myself that I realized I was still mourning the loss of our baby. I was driving home in the car, and I started singing. It was a love song. I started crying, singing it to my baby in heaven. Then I knew. I knew why I was feeling everything I was.
I came home to an empty house and cried over and over to God,
“I just wanted that baby.”
“I just wanted that baby.”
“I just want MY baby.”
I accused God of taking him or her because I wasn’t a good enough mom. That if I had just made better dinners and didn’t get angry, then maybe he would have let me keep this precious, precious baby. I knew it wasn’t really true when I said it all out loud. But that didn’t keep me from feeling it.
I told him everything I felt, even though I knew it wasn’t all quite true.
Then I felt his peace wash over me. A peace that maybe this baby wasn’t healthy and whole enough to be born. A peace that maybe it wasn’t all my fault. A peace that this baby was in heaven and that every time I kissed one of my babies on earth, maybe this baby in heaven could know and feel how loved he or she was too.
Watching The Giver reminded me why God gives us emotions in the first place. So many times, I’d rather do without them. Or at least that’s what I think. Because it’s no fun to feel these types of emotions. They are like a storm at sea.
A wise friend recently told me to ride the waves. Not to stand there and fight them, letting them overtake me and drown me, but to ride them out and know that they will take me somewhere.
So, it’s okay to mourn.
It’s okay that I feel sad.
It’s okay to feel angry.
It doesn’t mean I make all of my decisions on my emotions, or justify acting in anger. It just means that I’m human, and I can ask God to meet me there, in the middle of my storm, and calm my seas. And wait for him to say, “It’s okay about all the mess ups.”
And know that I don’t have to be perfect.
And it’s better that I need him.
Anyway, this film reminded me of the beautiful messiness of life. And how sometimes it’s a perfect mess. I recommend it. You should see it.
As always, thank you for reading.