(It sounds better than….
”I can’t believe Summer Break is over and I want to cry about it”)
So yesterday I was actually feeling profoundly depressed and anxious over the fact that school started today. And that the soccer season was upon us. I felt my family that had briefly been where I want it to be (with life simple, unhurried, uncomplicated) spiraling out of control and the things I most love and value ( lots of time with my family all in one room, focus on the truly important aspects of life, and us being in control of our schedule) slipping out of my grasp and I felt like a failure because I had allowed that to happen. I spent a lot of energy fervently wishing I could go back in time and have a redo. Starting with moving to a deserted island or a remote farm and never letting my kids know that organized sports or schools existed.
Basically yesterday I was in the throes of major melodrama and everything was tragic. I posted a maudlin facebook status update about how school was starting and I could not think of one reason to be happy about that. I spent a considerable amount of time wailing and gnashing my teeth (and feeling on the verge of weeping) leading one of my children to dryly observe that I was “kind of a brat”. I knew it. But I couldn’t stop it. First world problems if ever there were. “Oh I’m so sad that we are privileged and fortunate enough to be able to provide an education and extracurricular opportunities for our healthy children”. Woe is me. Woe! Yes, I know. Gross. I do blame a lot of it on my extreme fatigue (2 nights of literally no sleep), my health issues and some other major and pervasive stressors that are unrelated to what I was whining about but make everything seem overwhelming. I have been struggling with feeling this way on and off for sometime now. I have been “off” alternating between angry, apathetic, depressed, and anxious for several weeks.
Last night I had to concede that there was one undeniable reason to be happy about Back To School. Blessings. The night before school starts every year, we gather in our living room together as Aaron gives each of the children (and me) a father’s blessing. The children always seem to anticipate this eagerly and I am so touched by that. And grateful. I love sneaking peeks at their angelic faces as he blesses them. They seem to be listening so intently and to physically relax and become more serene as they listen the comforting promises and counsel. As a mother, I cannot help but soak up this experience with the utmost gratitude. I am so struck by how Ella reacts when she observes someone receiving a blessing. She sits reverently and rapt throughout and watches the proceedings intently. When she receives her blessing –(she was the last to get one), she looks so mature and wise. She gazes steadily ahead with a calm expression on her face. She doesn’t fidget or even look around. She seems to really be listening and feeling. It’s really quite remarkable and bears testimony to me of the reality of the fact that our souls commune with each other and recognize the spirit, regardless of age or language.)
My blessing was such a comfort to me. I don’t remember many specifics except that I was promised peace…and strength. (Twice). After the kids went to bed, things started to fall into place for me. I did feel a sense of peace. I knew the things I needed to do to gain more. I knew the things I needed to let go of. I knew that it would take some effort on my part but I had a sense of purpose and action. I was prompted to spend some time focusing on the scripture and theme I had chosen for our school year during Family Home Evening and so I did.
I love how life works. I had given a lesson on this theme and scripture several weeks ago. It had been very meaningful to me and I was very touched by it. But the distractions of life had pushed it to the furthest recesses of my mind to the extent that when a friend spoke on Sunday and referenced the lesson I had given and quoted from it. I thought, “wow that is good stuff and it sounds SO familiar. I wonder why?” (I am ashamed and appalled to admit that it took me a few moments to remember that I’d delivered the message and I actually had to google it to find the references. ) Anyway clearly this message was meant for me because it came to mind after that blessing. Very specifically. I’m grateful God is patient with the vague and forgetful.
Here is our theme:
It is from this lesson and I think you should read it. I really do. Please.
We chose a quote and a scripture as our theme this year.
The quote: “When we seek God’s will, we will follow a course in which there will be no failure”-Lorenzo Snow.
The scripture “If your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light and there shall be no darkness in you. And that body that is filled with light comprehendeth all things”- Doctrine and Covenants 88:67.
I instantly felt the darkness, turmoil and heaviness inside of me dissipate and a sense of purpose and energy replace it. As I made preparations for our special Back to School breakfast I find a quiet sense of liberation and strength. I recognized that on this day, my happiness was indeed in my control, and largely determined by the things I chose to spend my mental and emotional energy on. I could continue to lament and fight what was, or I could focus on the great blessings in my life, many of which had come from the things that I was feeling so negative about. I doubt that this “high” will stay with me for long, and I am realistic about the fact that I do struggle more than many people with physiological issues in keeping my moods balanced, but it has adjusted my thought patterns enough to resolve to change my mindsets and habits in order to move from the high and epiphany to a sustainable place of more peace and serenity.
Alas even though I felt so much better, I was destined to have yet another night sans sleep.That would make it three. Consecutive. Insomnia man, it’s a mystery. I got no sleep, but I did get my kitchen nice and clean. And strangely enough, I was able to face the day with a much deeper well of patience than I ordinarily possess. I noticed the distinct absence of the lurching, rolling feeling in my stomach I usually have on the first day of school. I was able to get up early and spend time enjoying each of my kids as individuals before they left for the day. I had a voracious appetite (pancakes, eggs, bacon and strawberries -and I happily partook over the course of all 3 shifts!)
I was able to let go of expectations. And just be.
I was particularly aware of and grateful for the fact that I was able to walk a short distance, in a sunshiny safe neighborhood to accompany our little boy to school. I was filled with joy that he got to walk with his bosom buddy (who has walked with us since they started kindergarten-they spontaneously posed that way, by the way-sniff) . I felt blessed to be able to walk beside my sweet husband who had made arrangements to go into work late so that he could be with us all for moral support.
(He was carrying a bouquet of flowers for the teacher. Both the thoughtful idea of a bouquet and the flowers for it were plucked from our kind and lovely neighbourfriend Carolyn and her front yard. With the earnest aid of her adorable little boy. Thank you Carolyn and Carson!)
These sunny sweet boys. Oh how I love them…and oh how they have grown. Sniff.
I enjoyed the teasing banter with my handsome teenager (who told me he loved me when he got out the car, unprompted..with peers in the close vicinity! Who knows who might have heard?!)
and the goofiness of my adorable middles as they giddily anticipated Gracie’s first day of middle school, with Gabe now occupying the “senior” position at the school. (How can it be?!)
After we saw everyone off, I was able to be one hundred percent, thoroughly and genuinely (perhaps for the first time) enjoy the experience of baking with a toddler. I relished every moment of it. I loved each time her exuberant stirring made for a mess because she would so adorably apologise with the sweetest, “Oh! Sowwy! Opie!” (her version of “oopsie!” )
I was filled with delight by the eggshell in the mix as she excitedly exclaimed over the wonders of cracking an egg (“here it comes!” “let’s go and look for the surprise inside mammy!” ).
I found it hilarious that she was loathe to pour the chocolate chips into the mix because it meant they would not be available to her for snacking on. And the fact that once I had secured her a few to snack on in a bowl later, she poured every last remaining chip in, which made the cookies basically into globs of chocolate bound together with a few grains of oatmeal. (They were good. In case you were wondering). I can’t stop laughing at her triumphant expression after placing the cookies carefully on the cookie sheet. Oh she is cute.
Despite my fatigue and the fact that nothing had changed regarding the external stressors we are experiencing, I was blessed to be unusually and entirely in the moment and loving every second of it. For one blissful hour I was exactly the mother I want to be.
The change in my outlook and emotions felt nothing short of miraculous. My mind was sharp, my priorities were clear, my perspective was calm and balanced. When Ella threw an epic fatigue induced tantrum I felt no irritation despite my own fatigue. And soon as I lay beside her for her nap, I fell asleep too. Hallelujah! We both awoke cheerful and refreshed at the precise moment we were to greet the others with warm cookies and cold milk.
When I got up today, nothing had changed since yesterday. The house is still (literally) falling apart, no money tree grew overnight, stressful questions remain unanswered and burdensome problems remain unsolved. Our schedule is still impossibly crammed with too many things. And I still feel like a deserted island and an empty calendar sounds dreamy. And tomorrow might be cloudy and grumpy and hard.
But today it was well with my soul. It was a good day. A really good day. A fresh new start.
(It sounds better than….