Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Full Circle Part Two

So. This past year has been interesting. Third life crisis interesting.

What is my identity? Do I even have one? Why am I the way I am
Am I AUTHENTIC? Does it matter?
In my case, it apparently does. 
These questions have sent me down several rabbit holes in search of answers this past year. I've unloaded a lot of emotions on this blog in recent months.
People think I'm crazy for sharing such stories. I am crazy. Hahahaha. That is okay.

After all, "We are only as sick as the secrets we keep."

On my 35th (I seriously am 35!?) birthday my husband and I were on our way to dinner. He asked me how I felt about being another year older and what I had been reflecting on that day. All I could come up with was that I was so happy our family was complete. That's all I got! I was done having babies. I feel super accomplished having had five babies. I know, I know .. I've barely got them raised. But I got them here. That's something right? 

It is. Many choose not to.

I really feel like I had the family I was supposed to have. That makes me happy. I have tried to be mindful and prayerful the past 10 years as we have grown our family. It has not always been easy. In fact it's never been easy. 

No one tells you this when you are pining away to get married and have a baby and another and another and another and another. I suppose if someone had tried to warn me the bed of roses was lined with a few or one hundred thistles and thorns I would have assumed I'd be the exception to what seems to be the rule. I am that naive.

We have fallen on really hard times at times over the course of the past 12 years as many do, yet we still kept on, we were faithful and it always worked out. Looking back this fills my heart with gratitude.

We were always blessed and our needs met even if it was not in ideal circumstances. Ironically our hard times landed us in the same place I landed all those years ago when I returned home from college. Home. Among the same people I grew up around. These poor souls can't get away from me, I've been almost nothing but trouble for them! I never thought that the house I grew up in would one day become mine. I never thought that I might end up here raising my own family, I just did as the result of some really crappy circumstances. My life has been immeasurably blessed by this. See how that works?

Anyway .. anyway.

As far as my family goes I truly feel like each of my sons was meant to be mine and my husband's. I never ever could have imagined or predicted that I would be a mother to all sons! I love them so; they have opened a piece of my heart that I didn't even know existed. I was never disappointed that I had four sons in a row! Each of them was meant to be mine. After four sons I really was ready to be done having babies. We were just barely put back together financially and perhaps emotionally after our last little mister was born. I was comfortable. I wasn't feeling too overwhelmed and looking back I think I was just barely within the threshold of what I could handle in terms of mothering and wife-ing. I was keeping it together. Not perfectly by a long stretch, but good enough.

However, I wasn't complete. Our family wasn't complete. 
Our home was missing someone. Sighhhhhhh. 
Here's where life started to get a little tricky. ( a whole lot tricky )
I desperately wanted a daughter. I needed a daughter.

So I prayed one here. 

I importuned God for a daughter and He sent one my way (on New Year's Day)( I truly couldn't resist the rhyme)
Simple as that.
Jane was a gift.  
I am not for her, but her for me. 

I realize this sounds totally selfish and that's because it is. That's neither here nor there at this point. She is everything I could have ever hoped for and just what I needed. Now I feel complete. She fills a hole in my heart. End of story.

The only problem is .... is that even though the Lord answered my endless prayers and gave me my daughter, as all blessings work you take the wonderful with the not so wonderful. My pregnancy and birth with Jane were not easy. Absolute hardest of the five. Having 5 children means that I am not just barely within the threshold of what I can handle, I am now living completely outside of it. 

I unknowingly made a trade. My sanity for a daughter. Totally worth it, but sanity gone.

I wouldn't change a thing, however now I've got a big problem on my hands. For the very first time since serving a mission I have come full circle in terms of hard things. 

As I wrote before my mission was so hard. I never thought anything could hold a match to hard it was, and nothing ever did .. Until now. I have bitten off way more than I can chew. I don't know how I am ever going to raise my children to adulthood and do it well
I so badly want to do this right, but I am so tired. So tired. Some days I can barely go on. There is a voice that screams at me that I can't do this daunting task, and a softer voice that whispers I once again must accomplish what seems utterly impossible at times. Persevere and endure. Capturing and reveling in all the fleeting joyous moments ever pushing forward... I just need a nap.

I feel called to be a mother. Just like I was absolutely supposed to serve a mission in Costa Rica I am absolutely supposed to be a mother to these 5 children. 
This last year I have felt like I have been saddled with an unfeasible task when it comes to homemaking and child rearing. 

I have been drowning. Drowning in everything. Self doubt, loneliness, dishes, work, laundry, Lego's, diapers, runny noses, puke, illness and endless messes. ENDLESS MESSES. DO YOU HEAR ME!?  Every last wall is drawn on. My carpet is filled with an entire bottle of honey. FROM COSTCO! Everything is a mess. My insides are a mess my outsides are a mess. I have been completely unable to pull myself together despite my very best efforts. 
Try and try and try again.  Fail. fail. fail. fail. Spread way to thin with a list of 100 things that need my attention. A true recipe for disaster.

Long gone is what used to make me, me. I am unrecognizable even to myself.  

One recent Friday morning I woke up with a familiar headache that had been around for days and that was the straw that broke the feeble camel's back. 

I was done. 

I got out of bed knowing that I was going to leave. I didn't know where to go. Maybe I need inpatient psychiatric care?? I was feeling pretty crazay. I made an appointment to see a doctor about my headache and thought I'd start there. As the hours passed while I waited for my appointment the headache finally began to subside. My stress levels began to dissipate knowing that in a few short hours I was leaving. I felt totally calm and with it and decided I must not be totally insane. Phew. I seriously was sooooo relieved! hahahaha. Instead of heading in for inpatient psychiatric care because I'd gone bananas I rented a car and left town. 

On Easter weekend. 
Okay, looking back that may have been a teensy bit insane.
My husband left work and totally just stepped up took over and sent me on my way.
Onnn Easter weekend. 
I missed the whole damn thing. 
He is a Saint.

I arrived to the hotel late that night and slept and slept until I could sleep no more. My mind was clear and surprisingly relaxed. I felt like the time I had away was a gift and I wanted to use it wisely. I listened to many podcast and read and prayed and meditated.

While I was away searching for answers on how to fix what was such a mess the experience of my mission all came flooding back. The parallels between mission and motherhood are eerily the same. How did I get through then? By praying, studying the scriptures everyday, and fasting often. 

Is it easy? 
Does it work? 

I felt impressed that if I would live my life in many ways as I did as a missionary everything would begin to change. For the first time ever I can honestly say I genuinely feel grateful for the blessing of having served a mission. Like that mission that I have loathed for years has all the sudden become one of the best things to ever happen to me. Ever. The angst over feeling that I wasn't able to give it my all has melted away. I did give it my all. Was it perfect? No. The absolute perfect parallel for motherhood. Never perfect. Try try try.

What makes a mission so wonderful? About a million things.
You keep a schedule of every last minute of your day. Just what this mama needs. 

Get up early. Feed the body. Feed the spirit. Feed the mind. Go to work. 


I never thought I would appreciate the simple life I lived as a missionary. I had nothing. I was poor. My clothing was used and simple. I had one pair of shoes. I had one set of dishes I ate off of. I had one blanket and one pillow. The food I ate was simple. Rice and beans. Fruits and veggies and sometimes if I could afford it, meat. I had no car. I walked almost every where I went. I had none of the finer things in life. 

My life as a missionary was so simple. Oh my gosh. I yearn for that simplicity. Sign me up for all of it. (Except cold showers) Life is too complicated sometimes. From the clothes we wear, the toys the children play with, to the food we eat. My desire to make these things less important grows stronger by the day.

I never thought I'd say it. 
I completely appreciate the simple life I was blessed to live while on my mission.
What a gift that was. 
I long to create some of that plainness in my home that I was blessed to live with in the mission field.  
Do I feel exactly the same these days as I did serving a mission all those years ago? 
Yes I do. 
Some days I barely feel human. I count days. I desperately wish to be content and love this work called homemaking- that I totally suck at. As much as I long to love every last bit of it, sometimes I just don't. Don't confuse that with whether I love my people or not please:)

I love my husband, I love my children, so dearly. But this is so hard. I am not in an ideal situation with the ages of my children right now. The struggle of having older children and two tiny terrors is just not easy. I can barely leave the house with them all. I need so much help and there just isn't enough to be had. I honestly don't know how other moms do it! So much falls by the wayside especially when it comes to the needs and wants of my older boys. Mom guilt. Tastes terrible.

Recently I was scrolling through Facebook when I happened upon some one's post. I stopped, stared and contemplated this person's selfie and caption. The post was all about them. All their posts are always all about them. Their awesome life, their career, their rocking hot body, their awesome vacations and on and on and on. (I totally don't mean to offend. I'm happy for them. Truly. They are a spectacular person) You would think that this would have made me feel worse about where my life is at at the moment. It didn't though. It was like the biggessst ah ha moment of my life! This person lives their life solely for themselves. Yes, they have a freaking amazing life in about every way right now, but all their time is spent doing only what makes them happy. I looked at them and instead of feeling like I am really missing out all I could see was a life that looked a little shallow and hollow. A life lived for one person. One single person! Of course there is a time and a season for that but most don't choose to set up shop and stay there forever.

For the first time in a long time I felt a lot of satisfaction with where I'm at in my life. I am 35, overweight, my hair has been in a ponytail for 10 years straight, I have been using the same tube of mascara for three years, my house looks like a bomb exploded in it, it's just a total s**t show most days. 

Could it be possible that this is all just okay for the time being?

There is a lot of fulfillment knowing that I have given away all the best parts of me to raise a family and be a wife. 

There is deep deep satisfaction in knowing that I have dedicated a good portion of my life building something that blesses me daily and will throughout all eternity. Being a wife and a mother is the antithesis of a shallow life lived for oneself, it quite profound actually.

I am grateful I didn't trade having a family for the short lived enjoyment that other endeavors may have brought.

Better and more organized and skinnier days are coming. They are! And when they do I will know that I did the best I could. I did exactly what I was called to do. I saved little for myself and gave the rest away. I live for 6 other people. Most days are spent protecting, feeding, and caring for the tiniest of my crew. Like, I save their lives on the daily. It's important work. Important, dirty, wonderful work!

The journey of motherhood is just that. A journey. 
In my case an extremely unpretentious one without a final destination. I don't anticipate that I'm going to have arrived one day. The expectation of arrival has perhaps been the problem.

I feel absolutely confident that when more serene days come my way my faith will be stronger than ever, I will know that even though the journey has been nothing but ups and downs and all arounds the Lord saw me through. Again. 

I know there are millions of mothers that could tell this same story. 
To some it may not seem all that impressive. 
Oh but it is

As a mother, 
my job is to take care 
of the possible and
trust God
with the impossible.

- Ruth Bell Graham

The End.

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