The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

It's very late on a Saturday night as I begin to type. Louisiana isn't far from the earliest bits of Sunday morning, actually. I'm sitting in the green recliner I bought for Brandon a few years ago, which I have claimed for over half the time we've owned it for one reason or another, and a snoozing baby rests against my chest because she inexplicably finds my now-protruding clavicle more comfortable than her crib. Sara sighs sweetly as she sleeps, and her chubby cheeks beckon the pucker of my lips. Yes, I'm tired. Yes, I should be sleeping. But I'm not frustrated or upset about not being in bed tonight.

I've been thinking a lot today about the fact that I have not been able to really enjoy Sara's babyhood. Honestly, I feel a little robbed. When Micah was a baby, I had the time and energy to record his milestones, take more photos than should be devoted to one child, and make cute, multimedia videos perfectly timed to the perfect song. Every day, we spent time reading and playing on the floor, and this was in addition to teaching piano and voice lessons, managing the household and having a full and fun schedule. I'm a little concerned that Sara will one day notice and challenge the disparity in evidence of happy parenting, but mostly I'm sad that I haven't really had an opportunity to provide it.

From the beginning, the odds were stacked against us. Sara didn't sleep until we began co-sleeping when she was two weeks old. At three weeks, she came down with a cold that she kept until RSV hit us like a hurricane at the first of January. She was sick with RSV and ear infections for over two months. Utterly consumed by the needs of my frighteningly sick infant and the lesser, yet significant needs of my now three-year-old son, I didn't notice the first obvious signs that my health was slipping. I thought I was tired because Sara wasn't sleeping. I thought my allergies were heightened because we never had winter. I thought my migraines were the byproduct of my postpartum hormones. And now, I live in a reality where I have little energy because of the nature of whatever auto-immune thing I have and because I can't get enough food. I live in a reality in which pain is becoming so commonplace that I'm beginning to ignore the lesser aches and only give pause when those aches become debilitating pain. I live in a reality that could end with the next food I try.

I can honestly say that I don't feel afraid much anymore. God is really keeping my fear under control. However, it would be vilely pretentious of me to lead you to believe that I'm not depressed . . . and worse. For those of you who have experienced depression, you know what I mean when I say that the aches I feel go deeper than my bones. There's an emptiness, a hollow space that reverberates uncomfortably each time I think about not having the energy to savor Sara's babyhood as I would like or wonder if I'll be able to teach Micah to play basketball or consider the fact that it would be dangerous to have anymore babies.

And then there is the food thing . . . . I am so meat hungry, live cattle make me salivate. Rice cereal and vegetables are an absolute gift, and many people in the world would be overjoyed to eat what I'm eating, but when I'm smelling Hannah Peshoff's roast warming in the microwave, Death by Roast doesn't seem that bad of a way to go, if you catch my meaning. (Allow me to interject here that I am thrilled that my family is eating well while I am adjusting and finding my feet. I do not begrudge them good food. I only wish that I could have something fabulous to eat, too.) I feel a lot like the Israelites, wandering around in the wilderness, complaining about the manna they had to eat day in and day out without variation instead of being grateful for God's miraculous provision. I have to remind myself what a gift it is to eat! I have to remember how far I've come in just a little over a week.

 It's funny--and excruciatingly humbling--to realize that I'm identifying with qualities I've never liked or respected in others. I lack gratitude. I have difficulty overseeing the affairs of my household. I have little desire to rise above my circumstances. I have moments of jealousy when I consider how easy things seem for other people and moments of cynicism when those people don't realize what a miracle it is that they feel energized enough to spend a day at the park or at the zoo with their kids.

I've always felt that it is important to call a spade, a spade, and let's face it--my attitude is sin and it's ugly. A friend of mine once put it something like this--God owes me nothing. Actually, the only thing I am owed is Hell. Anything I am given beyond eternal damnation is something I don't deserve. While I am a human being, created and allowed to feel raw, complex emotions, I must always land back in the realization that I am owed nothing. The breath in my lungs, the food (however bland) in my belly, the clothes on my back, the pain in my legs (a beautiful sign that my legs still work), is a gift--a gift I DON'T deserve! The mommy moments that I think I'm missing? I only really miss them if I'm too distracted by my discontentment to enjoy what I'm given. And beyond all of these things, I have been given Jesus, who has ushered me into the presence of God by the merit of His blood alone, who allows me to enjoy these gifts freely without them being an indictment against my rebel's heart. And one of these days . . . . one of these days . . . .I'm going to learn that His presence is ENOUGH! God, You are ENOUGH!

I am going to have to be intentional if I am to pluck out the weeds of discontentment in my heart. I am praying that the Lord would truly be enough for me. I am asking that when I want a bite of what my husband is eating badly enough to consider endangering myself that I would instead choose to feast on Him. Please, please, pray with me. Also, I have found that gratitude is one of the most potent weed-killers out there, and I am going to devote myself to being grateful to the Lord every day. I'm thinking of beginning a Post-It Wall of Gratitude somewhere in the house to look at and add to each day. I will begin my prayers with a "thank you" rather than a "please, Lord." And I think I'm going to start right here, right now with this precious, sleeping baby on my chest. What a grand, grand gift.

What is something big or small for which you are grateful?