December 21, 2011

Holiday Cheer and Light and Hope and ... Losing It, Again

I've sat down maybe seven times in the last two weeks to write something and every time I have, what comes out is some permutation of: I'm so, very, ridiculously, incredibly, totally, freaking, busy.

Sometimes, it happened a few paragraphs in,  other times, it was the first sentence. Some pieces started out being about how to manage it all (as if I know). Others were just screeds of complaining with sidebars of to-do lists and most, maybe all, had this annoying martyr undercurrent that I feel flowing more readily than I would like these days.

Eventually, I scrapped them all. Because I'm not telling you something you don't already know. You're likely very, ridiculously, incredibly, totally, freaking, busy too

Here's a secret: We all are.

I never want to become one of those "busy" people, you know the ones -- the ones always talking about how busy they are?

Because those people are likely:

a) trying to sound important (because very important people are always very busy);

b) using it as an excuse of some kind, often for being flakey or just plain inefficient;

c) as a vehicle for recognition of some kind, exposing some deep self-confidence void ("Oh, I have so much to do!" = "I do so much and get no thanks for it so I'm trying to get you to acknowledge how hard I work so I can actually feel some modicum of self respect."); or

d) too busy to think of anything else to think about, thus, leading lives obviously full of pure drudgery.  

So, I've been trying, grasping really, to find some balance with the busy-ness in our lives. Because, this, friends, is the slow part of our year. And if I'm borderline now? Wait until Jacob is in the field all day (i.e. not helping with Willa) and we have seeds to plant and plants to transplant and veggie deliveries to make and turkeys to feed and grain to plant and lentils to roll and ...

I start to hyperventilate just thinking about it.

And then, add to that, the prospect of a pregnancy or a second baby and I'm certifiably nutso.

Hence, the grasping. Because the truth is, I wouldn't change a thing. I wanted it all and I got it all. I have the career and the small farm and the husband and the small town and the awesome kid and even the cute neurotic dog.

But that doesn't mean I can't lose it every once in awhile.

I wanted to be able to tell you I've found some sort of lesson in it all. But things don't always wrap up as nicely as we'd hope.

It was all coming to a head last week and so on Willa's and my morning walk, I planned to take all these photos of this amazing frost that was blanketing our little town and write a post about how stressed I was, but isn't it grand when nature makes you stop and leave the chaos behind for a moment? 

I tried, several times, to stop and gaze at the sparkly white trees, the blue sky, the hot white sun streaks coming through the snow, and breathe. But it was ass-cold and my hands were freezing, and Willa fell asleep fast, (that's another post. Right now, the only way to get her to nap, and thus, get me some uninterrupted work time, is to walk her down in the stroller.) so I took a few hurried shots and heeled it back to the house to cram in a few hours.

Then, by that afternoon, I'd come down with what could have only been the flu and spent the next few days struggling to a) not throw up and b) not freak out about the million things I should be doing instead of laying in bed in a fever-induced coma.

By the time I came out of it, I was drained and weak. But, my to-do list was not. It was full and strong and looming.

Jacob had done a fantastic job at the care and feeding of the child and the house, but I was impossibly behind on work and the 10,000 other things that needed to be done.

For a moment, I thought about writing a piece about how isn't it beautiful it can actually be when, just when you think life is crazy, your body forces you to slow down? As if it's saying "Hey girl, think you're in control? How's this for a lesson in slowing down and letting go? You can't even control your bowels, let alone your day."

But, by the time Thursday arrived, I had hit the wall. A big, merry, crafty, homemade, work-at-home, stay-at-home, make-everything-from-scratch, try-as-I-may-cannot-find-any-goodness-or-grace, solid-as-a-rock wall.

And when Willa fought going to bed that night, I just laid in bed sobbing and gritting my teeth, sobbing and gritting my teeth, sobbing and gritting my teeth, while she kicked and played and cried a little and played some more.

Then, she patted my tear-drenched face and said "Mama?" And I wondered how she'd tell her therapist about it some day.

"Well, my Mom smiled a lot but she acted angry all the time."

It's all just terrifying, what we expect of ourselves in this modern life. Especially women. Especially mothers.

And on top of all we do, it seems cruel to also expect us to have grace and calm when we can't handle it all. We have to give ourselves permission sometimes, to let a few things go -- including our sanity. It doesn't mean we're really crazy. It doesn't mean we can't do it all. It doesn't mean we're not thankful for all we have.

It just means we're just freaking exhausted -- too exhausted to be thankful, to find meaning in the crazyness, to stop and drink it all in.

Taking a walk and looking at sparkly, frosty trees isn't going to immediately change how tapped out I feel. Neither is forcing myself into some sort of reflection. Nor is that half hour of yoga I try to shove into my day.

And that is perfectly OK.

Because those things aren't meant to magically make my life manageable. They're about the effort you put in to just do them. Just like yoga, or meditation, life is practice.

It's not always about getting it right. Sometimes, it's about doing it at all and that is perfectly enough.

And with that, I'll leave you with a few of the photos from the week and a Christmas wish -- that you let yourself lose it, just a little, even in the midst of all this holiday sparkle and cheer.


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