You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
-Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese”
I had a tough and a beautiful holiday.
It was beautiful because of so much family time.
My son is 3.5 and he was so overjoyed with his presents. His delight is just delightful.
My daughter is 6.5 months old and despite the fact that she isn’t sleeping well at night, she is such a sweetheart. She has a smile that can light up a room.
And it was tough because of so much family time.
My son is 3.5! My daughter isn’t sleeping!
We also traveled to see extended family, which was lovely, and also trying, because see above.
And this makes me feel slightly guilty, because I have close friends who recently lost a child, and I have close friends who have longed for a child for a long time.
Shouldn’t I be overwhelmed with gratitude all the time?!
Well, yes. I consciously choose gratitude every morning.
And also, I’m human. And let’s face it, being human and parenting are not constant states of joy and bliss. And that’s okay.
On New Year’s Eve I totally crashed. I couldn’t get out of bed. And then yesterday, after yet another night of being up from 3:30-5am, I felt like I was losing my mind.
So I did what I’ve learned to do time and time again.
I honored what my body needed, instead of constantly fighting against it.
I stayed in bed for hours. I drank green smoothies. I took walks by myself. I let go of the plans I’d had for the day. (And they were such great plans!)
I’ve learned to let the “soft animal of my body love what it loves.”
I’ve learned to take care of myself before the situation gets too dire.
I didn’t always know how to do this.
Six years ago, I continued commuting 2 hours each way to work, through a mystery illness.
The illness was so severe that my doctor ordered an MRI of my brain to rule out a brain tumor, or multiple sclerosis.
I walked out of his office with the MRI prescription in my hand and I thought, Hmm. Maybe I should stop working. Maybe … maybe this is really serious.
At that time in my life, I needed outer validation to confirm how desperately sick I was.
So this is a huge improvement.
What I’m still learning how to do is to rest before I get to this tired, starting-to-get-burned-out place that I’m in now.
And how to do that with two kids, during the holidays?
I’m not sure yet.
I do know that I learn the lesson more deeply every time.
I was able to hit ‘pause’ this time before things got too dire.
We’ll call it progress.
January 3, 2020