Saturday, October 29, 2011

This is Not Forever

I was thinking today about coping mechanisms for all the things in life that are less than satisfactory. The way I tell myself that every little bit of clutter I clean up gets me closer to my goal of getting it all put away. The way I feel a little bit overwhelmed, but remind myself to just push through one more day. The way I daydream about storage furniture. All these things help me in some measure when I am not getting what I need.

Ideally, I need a week away all by myself, in some location that is too far to slip home because I feel guilty, but still familiar to me. In my dreams, I spend a week by myself in London, and see no one but museum staff and the people at Pret A Manger and Costa. But that's just dreamland, and in real life, I am the mother to a small girl who still needs me very much, almost every day. (That I could go away for a night or two and she would be fine is fairly clear, but a week would be ridiculous.) So I will make do with what I can get, which will be full day with the house to myself sometime soon. And it will be enough, because it has to be. In the meantime, I will accept that until that day comes, our house may look like it's heading to Martha Stewart's personal version of hell in a cat hair encrusted handbasket. Because that's another coping mechanism: turning a blind eye to my own Hoarders episode in the making.

One thing that is hardest for me about being an introvert is that there seem to be so few people that get it, that understand that it's not that I don't want to be efficient or organized or have a spic-and-span house, but that there comes a certain point when I've had too much interaction with others that I simply can't manage many other things. My energy goes first to my daughter, and much of the rest gets channeled to simply showing up where I'm supposed to be with the appropriate items in tow. When life is particularly busy, and I have not had a break for quite some time, I have very little left to give to the rest of my life. I am at that point now, and I am doing a fairly good job accepting it and waiting it out until I get relief.

As I sit here at my cluttered desk (non-essential mail items are still piled up from vacation), in my dirty-floored house, I consider what it will be like when I have two children to attend to instead of just one. I know, for one thing, that I will be even more tired than I am today. I know that I will have to work out once again what works for both my family and for me.

I do wonder if people will think I am nuts to take on a second child who will have needs as great as or even greater than Zinashi's. This past year has been intense, and I know that when our second child comes it will be even more so. We will walk through grief and loss with our next child, and will continue to do so with Zinashi, and this requires a lot of intentional closeness. It may seem to an outsider that this is quite unwise. But here's the key point: I not just an introvert. It is only one facet of who I am, and mothering draws on many aspects of my personality. I am doing what I am meant to do with my whole self at the point in time, and doing so means working with everything I've got, including my introverted nature.

My children will not be young forever, and this very busy phase of life will not be forever either. My purpose and direction will change as they grow. For now, though, this is the life I am meant to be living, and I believe with my whole heart that as long as I choose to fully inhabit the story that is being written with my life, I will find the grace to do what is necessary to nurture the little people who have been placed in it.

5 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for giving voice to this. People... who aren't.... really really really just do not GET IT. They don't get that it's not about being a wallflower. That it's about my energy is NOT compounded by being around people/person/climbingclinging4yoconstantlytouchingme... that it is infact sapped. At times people can give us energy, in the right mix, but it is usually disorganized/fretful energy that feels very uncomfortable.
    ugh... case inpoint. As I was typing this- my son who has been clinging jumping and climbing on me for 4 hours straight. Got up from he seat and was about to leap on me when he said "I wanna hug" and I yelled "No." Can you believe it. Ugh... I suck. That was 10 minutes ago btw.

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  2. Thanks for this post - I never really thought of my "issues" that way - I often wonder what is "wrong" with me that I can't seem to get motivated/energized/etc. to tackle various projects, why I sit and vegetate every day while the kids nap (instead of doing those projects), then sit and vegetate (or do sit-down business) in the evenings after the kids go to bed. I get enough sleep, eat pretty well, am more fit than ever since having kids, but my energy and ability to get busy when I have the chance are really inconsistent (it was this way before kids, too, when I was working and involved in more church/community stuff - and we are far from having a jam-packed schedule). At times, I get completely consumed by a project (occasionally an organizational one, but more often a crafty one) for a few days or week at at time, then slide right back into surviving by doing the bare minimum. I don't feel super-lazy, I just feel tired and overwhelmed and seem to need lots of down-time so that I can face the next day, activity, etc. So, you may have explained part of the problem, because if ever there was an introvert, it is me. And if ever there was an extrovert, it is my eldest (and #2 and #3 don't appear too introverted, either). And...to the first commenter...I often turn down requests to have someone sit beside me at meals, defer when asked to participate in loud, active play (I give in sometimes - I know they love it), and turn away a little person who gets too wiggly and "in my face" while "cuddling"...and sometimes I find myself snapping because one more loud, fast, forceful interaction is simply one too many. I definitely have a very strict policy on noise-making and running in the house, first thing in the mornings, etc., and focus a lot on teaching the kids to respect others' space and senses (while certainly suggesting and allowing opportunities for high-output activity and expression at appropriate times and places). Anyway, this explanation makes a lot of sense. I don't want to excuse myself if I am a bit more slack than I should be, but maybe need to stop being so hard of myself for failing to be the Energizer Bunny...

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  3. I say some version of your last paragraph almost everyday.

    My mom recently asked me, "how do you do it all?" I replied, "I don't." I've accepted that right now, to stay sane and happy, the house will be messy, I will not work out and our meals will not be elaborate or creative. But we will be happy. And I will sacrifice sleep to get the alone time I need.

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  4. I so loved this post. I have moved further over to the introvert side over the years and would love some alone time to just... be. Also wanted to say that as far as becoming a mother to two- we adopted both of ours through foster care and at first I wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into. Our first was easy and sweet and portable. Our second was fussy and finicky and a stickler for a rigid schedule. But you're right-- it passes. He's walking now and he's much happier. And he's turned into a total clown, always wanting to make everyone laugh at his antics. I'm so glad we stuck through the dark times and made it out to the other side where it is absolutely crazy-- but in a perfect way.

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  5. Ugh. ME TOO. You've touched a nerve with this one!

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