See, I have this inconvenient tendency to live in the future. I've completely forgotten the past (no really, I have a dreadful memory bank), and the present is stressful but more significantly, it's just not as awesome as my future, right? RIGHT?? I've been doing it for years and years, always living for the next holiday, the next baby milestone, the next evening of solitude. Well, I decided enough is enough and I'd like to try to live more fully in the present. I mean, my future is going to be awesome, no doubt about it, but my present is pretty awesome as well, and I don't want to miss out on it.
I've thought periodically about starting a gratitude journal of sorts for years, but of course never did. Then there was 2012. It's taken me three solid postpartum months to get on my feet again, meaning to feel like a humanoid and gain a glimmer of control over my house and children. After having Amelia, I just felt so so overwhelmed every day. I was expecting this, but it was still disheartening to feel hopelessly behind on so many responsibilities and projects and feel so unable to accomplish anything at all, like checking my email. Or washing my hair.
Making lists really worsened my plight. I recall several nights on which I'd stare blankly at my enormous list of goals and responsibilities and cry. I was really trying to be reasonable, and there was still no conceivable way I could do and be everything I should. I wasn't attempting to pursue hobbies, just attend to my children's basic needs as well as my own. But emptying the dish washer and reading to the kids 20 minutes a day was not about to happen when here we were at 6pm and I hadn't yet found time all day to go pee. I felt thoroughly discouraged, and very sorry for all of my children dealing with the reality of sharing their thinly spread mother with each other.
I wish I could say something magical changed my perspective and things turned happy and possible again. Really, though, things haven't much changed. I am, however, growing more and more accustomed to my new (lack of) routine and learning how much is reasonable to expect. For instance, before Amelia was born I'd have at least an hour or two each day to myself during which Charlie slept and the older kids were in school. Now I have learned to expect no personal time during the day and even into the evening, as Amelia's sleeping and eating habits have really yet to form any predictable pattern.
Days have gradually improved. A comforting realization that I consider often is simply that there is a season and a time for everything. Also that the season for making lists of your life goals is not when you're two months postpartum.
My more significant realization is this: there is a season for gratitude, and it is always. Tomorrow will be great, but today is also beautiful. So in my bedside journal, I record one thing that made my life beautiful today. Things like going to Target to buy at full price framed art I've been eying for some time and discovering it was on sale that week, or Charlie smugly humming primary songs as he dumps out the contents of my kitchen drawers, making it more difficult to be upset at him.
I like to think that God has a hand in my life each day, and pausing to reflect on the blessings of my day helps me realize how present he really is-- I didn't use to see joys like getting dinner on the table on time or sneaking in a short afternoon siesta as evidences of God's hand, but why wouldn't they be? It's humbling and exhilarating and mostly just makes me happy. Happy to be who I am, have what I have, and do what I do. That peace and affirmation is all I was really craving.
A sweet mama from Russia in the Thunderbird family club met Amelia for the first time at a potluck dinner. She has her own daughter about Charlie's age and it keeps her busy. She smiled at me as I attempted alone to rally my children from the four corners of the room and with a thick Russian accent exclaimed, "Wow. Four kids. You must be so..." As she paused, my stream of consciousness finished her sentence: exasperated? exhausted? mentally unstable? I would have responded affirmatively to any of these adjectives. But no. "You must be so.... happy," she finished.
I heard myself answer, "Yeah, I am." At that moment I was just being polite. But really, of course I'm happy. Of course I am.