I’m sitting alone in one of the chairs at the front of the fellowship hall where we had just finished Lo’s baby dedication and Pastor Kevin was speaking about Job. K was in Sunday school and J was with Lo at the nursery, feeding him the last of his bottle. My head was still groggy from the few hours of sleep I had pieced together the night before, sometime between 12-2am, 4-6am, and 7-9am. My head is starting to ache and my body is still tense from the whirlwind of activity that morning had brought us while trying frantically to get everyone ready for church without being late. But we were still late. Eight minutes late to be exact. We made it into the fellowship hall just FOUR minutes before we were called up for Lo’s dedication. And I was exhausted. I felt like I was looking out at everything through blurry eyes, my body felt heavy, and I was cranky. Just good old fashioned cranky. Great. I’m completely exhausted and there’s still the rest of the actual service to sit through.
(Kevin is starting to talk about people confusing life with God.)
I’m just so extremely tired. And not only am I tired, I’m unhappy and snappy. But to make matters worse(?), I don’t even feel a bit of righteousness in my unhappiness or snappiness because it’s all laced with feelings of failure and guilt.
(Kevin says God is not this life but He is WITH us in this life. I am not alone. He’s wrapping up. The worship team is singing now.
“It is well. With my soul. It is well, it is well, with my soul.”)
I suddenly remember the picture I took earlier on in the week (this one posted below). A snapshot of failure and guilt all in one. K had just come home from pre-school and was also a little under the weather. I needed to give her lunch and a nap but Lo was flipping out because he too was hungry and tired. “Way to go Jeannie. That’s some great parenting you’ve got going on.” I hurriedly turned on the TV for K and gave her a cup of yogurt to snack on.
“Mommy needs to feed Logan. I’ll be right back. Just eat your yogurt and wait right here. Then we’ll have lunch together ok? Yes, mommy?“ K repeated dutifully, “Yes, mommy.” and I dashed up the stairs. After feeding and putting Lo down, I rush back down the stairs to this scene. This picture. My failure in a snapshot. She had fallen asleep on her chair, yogurt half-eaten, with Princess Sofia chattering away in the background. Coughing and alone, waiting for me to come get her. No lunch. No cuddles before nap time to make her feel better about her small cold. I suck. I suck I suck I suck.
People say they bond with their babies while breastfeeding. My mind is either constantly on other things while breastfeeding, like what the heck is K doing in her room alone with that stool?! or I’m fighting dozing off from all the sleep deprivation. So Lo isn’t getting a lot of love and attention through that at all. It’s just another chore sometimes. Something to check off on the list of a million things I feel like need to get accomplished within the day while actually accomplishing only four of those things. Then when K needs me, I’m busy tending to Lo, making sure he’s fed and napping on time, making her wait for me alone. I’m losing on all fronts. His needs, her needs, my needs… I throw my hands up.
(A new song has started. “You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things, out of dust. You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things, out of us.”)
The words to the next song draw me out of my thoughts and I look up to read the lyrics. As I’m listening to the words, something inside my heart starts to swell. The snapshot of my guilt fades away and I begin to remember images of the other day when K and I were jumping on my bed like crazy, and she’s giggling so hard that she farts. Then I remember Lo’s face while I’m twirling him around in the kitchen. He throws his head back and laughs. I can see two more teeth peeking out from under his gums.
(“All around, hope is springing up from this old ground. Out of chaos, life is being found in you.”)
The song continues and so do the images. K crying. Me consoling her. Kissing her tears away. Trying to exhibit patience and endurance. Making efforts to teach her that it’s okay to be sad and angry but to not dwell in it. Then I see Lo’s intense gaze at my face while I’m singing to him. His hand reaches up to my lips and I kiss them and he sighs and grins.
(“You make me new. You are making me new. You make me new. You are making me new.”)
My eyes are engulfed in tears now. I’m trying so hard to hold the flood back. And in that moment, I knew it. God was speaking to me. He was addressing all the negative feelings I had been carrying around with me during the week. The feelings of ineptitude. Of helplessness. Of crabbiness. Of bitterness. Of shame and guilt. And I could only have heard it so clearly because all my guards were down. All my emotions were ready at the surface. Tired, weary, defenseless. Because Lo was up the night before at 11:30, from 2-4, at 6… and there was no room in me for pretense. And God used it. (He is with me. I am not alone.)
I’m not who I used to be anymore. I can’t be. I won’t ever be again. I’m being broken down completely, sometimes on a daily basis. It totally hurts. I feel the pain mentally, emotionally, and physically. And it’s all because I’m being built again. As a mother. A wife who is a mother. A woman who is a wife and mother… of two at two and under. It’s an ever continuing process of change acclimating to change. And out of it, there is beauty. I am being made new. And it is well. It is well with my soul.