Excuse me. I just KNOW this is going to be a long-ish post.
I’ve been feeling two contrasting emotions lately. They are so different, that at times I feel at war within myself.
For starters, for the last week I’ve been feeling intensely bitter about a whole variety of things. Last Tuesday, I was already upset that most of the plans I make end up being useless. Jesse assured me that things would, in fact, get better. All we needed was to finish the week strong, using the days to get back into our routine. I took some comfort in this. Until 4 hours later, when I was puking my guts out. Needless to say, we did NOT “get back into our routine”– instead, I was either feeling so sick I wanted to die or playing nurse to someone else.
Even though it would help if I could plan something and then sit back and watch it come to fruition (ahh, wouldn’t that be nice?), it’s not the only thing I’ve been bitter about. By a long shot. There are times when I get so frustrated with who Jesse is and what his calling is. Because we have seminary in the immediate plans for the future, we can’t settle down yet. Or ever. He will have to go wherever there is a job. We are doomed to be perpetual nomads! Once we move to New York, we will have spent several years of life in 3 of the biggest cities in the US. While exciting on paper, I want to settle down. Move somewhere and make friends without having to realize that someday soon we will have to say goodbye. I’ve always cared about settling down, SOMEDAY, but now that I am almost 25, I’ve realized that I want it even more.
Our seminary plans make me bitter for other reasons as well. Unless we can get some of our living expenses subsidized by monthly support from family and friends, I will have to work. I don’t WANT to work! I want to stay home and raise my family. I only get one shot at raising Gregory, and I get frustrated at the thought that Jesse’s calling is going to take precedent over that. I’m also bitter at the fact that all my life I’ve wanted to be one of those “working moms”. The moment I had Gregory, as I’ve written on this blog, I felt at peace with giving up a “career”.
I say to myself: “Let me get this straight. All your life you wanted to work AND be a mom. Now, the moment you think your family might need you to work, you don’t want it anymore?”
Yes, ironic. I hate irony that’s directed at me.
The last thing I’ve been really bitter about really ties right in with these other things. I am so tired of being far away from my family. So very tired of it. Most of the time, I like the freedom that being far away provides. It’s been really good for Jesse and I as a couple and as parents. For the past 4.5 years, we’ve been able to establish our own family unit. We’ve had to rely on just each other. While my mom did come and help us for 10 days after Gregory was born, we did the rest on our own. A part of me is really proud of the fact that we moved ourselves across the country, made new friends, got new jobs, found a great church, had a baby and flourished. On our own.
I figured it would be pretty hard for the grandparents to say goodbye to Gregory. And it was. But it was also really difficult for me. I was in mourning for the last 2 days of our trip and felt like I couldn’t really enjoy much of anything. While the sadness at leaving my family usually manifests itself in overflowing emotional outbursts, this time it just felt like a deep and aching wound. I didn’t cry. I didn’t even want to talk about it. I just wanted to be home.
Part of the reason for this is that I get along so well with my parents. We DEFINITELY haven’t always gotten along– there were some rough patches, especially in my teen years. I think nearly everyone goes through that.
But now, I just enjoy being around them. They both handle the difficulties of life with such selfless grace and humor. Whenever they find life too easy, they sign up for some “board” or “committee” that’s going to make things challenging for a while. I guess it’s because they want to make a difference in every life they come into contact with. Somewhere deep down, I think they are wired to operate on the assumption that if things are easy, they aren’t doing enough. And while the ability to discuss things is not the best indication of where a relationship is at (conversations are all good and fine, but I think that actions are a better measuring stick) I feel like I can talk about anything with them. Even if we hurt each other’s feelings, it’s still okay.
Perhaps I hope that by being around my parents, I can learn from them. Gregory could learn from them. There are so many aspects to all of his extended family that I want him to not just hear about, but also be involved in. It drives me nuts– if I have to live across the country, why couldn’t I at least have some crazy, self-destructive parents who I love but want to steer clear of? Why was I blessed with such a wonderful family if it was my fate to live so far away from them?
So, why manic? you ask yourself. All of this just sounds plain ole’ bitter.
Because, even in the midst of feeling this way about some of the biggest decisions in our life, I feel such joy. I get to experience so many beautiful moments, day in and out. Waking up to Gregory’s smile is almost more than I bear on some days. When he sees me and lights up, I feel like I could die of happiness. I get to spend most of the day with my wonderful son, who is, on most days, such a very very good baby! This morning, he sat in his bouncy chair for over an hour, by himself, playing with his toys. Then, he put himself to sleep for a nap! This has allowed me to write all of these thoughts here in leisure, whilst sipping on my morning cup of coffee, listening to beautiful church music on Ancient Faith Radio. It’s the peaceful type of morning/life I’ve always wanted. I’m so, SO grateful.
And when I’m not home with him, I get to spend time teaching kids piano! Despite my occasional complaints, mostly having to do with communication and/or scheduling, I have a great set-up here. I can make a few thousand dollars every month, just by spending 10-12 hours/week sitting at a piano with a great group of kids. For 80% of the time, I can teach while Jesse is home– the other 20%, I’ve had the gracious help of Julie and Courtney. It really doesn’t get a whole lot better.
And then, there are our wonderful evenings as a family. Jesse has been such a great husband and father during this time. While he would have every right to come home after a long day and completely abdicate all other responsibilities, he walks in the door and starts helping. Just last night, he helped me wash the diapers and cleaned up the kitchen after dinner, all the while playing with Gregory and changing his diapers. Every night since we’ve gotten back from CA (excluding the “puking” nights), we’ve bathed Gregory together, marveling at his energetic “motor boat” action in the water. Then, we’ve done our prayers by candlelight together as a family. Life doesn’t get more beautiful.
I’m not sure what to do with this constant war within me, but I can say that I feel hope and joy winning out, on most days. It’s the classic war between the Old and New Man! I’m so glad I have the help of the Holy Spirit, otherwise, I know that I would be on the losing end of this battle.