Ring Around the Bathtub
It was 10 pm before I sat down to refold the laundry. Yes, refold. The three year old had decided we didn’t do it right the first time. Or I wasn’t quick enough to get it put away. Silly me. I guess I should have learned the first (hundred) times it happened.
It’s been hard to roll out of bed recently. Not just because horizontal and pregnant don’t mix. The tedium of another day refereeing uncooked-spaghetti fencing matches while reciting multiplication facts just doesn’t have great allure. The discipleship of snotty nosed natives seems slow and unclear. I know I am called to this. But it doesn’t change the feeling I’m spiraling out of control. Sometimes. Every few minutes. Like when the baby proved he could fit four marble-sized angry birds in his mouth without choking to death. While standing on a rickety chair. While I was getting a french manicure applying Desitin to serious diaper rash on another kid. While the schoolboys escaped from their books to have a dirty-spoon war. On the trampoline. In the rain. When we were late for an appointment.
They say the days of motherhood are long but the years are short. Currently, they feel endless, a constant cycle of dishes and meal planning, diapers and saying no. Repeatedly. I guess it is a cycle. An orbit. And, Darth Vader-style, I’m heading to the dark side. The nights are getting longer and the year is getting shorter. Winter is coming.
Seasons aren’t bad. The time for pumpkin-everything is passing. Soon the spicy smell of pine will fill the crisp air. Frost will outline every stubborn blade of grass. The kids will come inside with red noses and jockey for the first cup of cocoa. The transition of seasons is beautiful in New England. But winter is a hard season, nonetheless. And while I’m buried elbow deep in the muck of motherhood, I am aware of the hardships ahead.
I know nearby there’s a suddenly-single mom facing her first meager Christmas alone with the kids.
I know there’s a young grandmother with breast cancer planning her holidays around chemotherapy treatments.
I know some parents who expected to hold their newborn in the quiet hours of the winter nights but instead watched him born straight into heaven.
I know a husband writing letters from his jail cell to a family he lost to his own selfishness.
It will be a long, dark season.
I know that nights are simply part of days, no matter how late I stay up with the lamps on and pretend I can extend daytime indefinitely. Light is good. I was made to live in light. But eventually I have to admit it’s dark. There is a time for this. If I never went to bed, I would never be prepared for a new day’s dawn. Or prepared for the children jumping on the bed when the clock strikes first daylight.
The Bible doesn’t say anything about living it up in this life. We are simply here to live it out. Hour by hour, day by day. I can’t actually spiral out of control if I’m plodding along a set course. If I’m orbiting the sun, I can be confident that eventually the nights will get shorter. Spring will come again. We’ll be a little older, hopefully a little wiser. Over the winter, this will be very tangible, since I expect to go through the hard pains of labor contractions and sleepless nights. But when spring comes, a very real new soul will exist. New life. Born in the darkness. Born in the cold. Blossoming with first smiles just as the sun thaws the hard ground.
God has never promised me comfort. In fact, it often seems like when I’m doing everything right, I’m most uncomfortable. These hard, uncertain, breathless seasons – they are good. Not easy. But I don’t grow when I’m sitting on the couch with a bag of chips watching Pride and Prejudice. Well, maybe I’ll grow sideways, or grow discontent because they had servants to help them into pretty dresses and I can’t even find comfy sweat pants in the pile of clothes I still haven’t put away. But I won’t grow better. Diamonds only grow under pressure, in darkness, over time.
It takes time to learn lessons that are timeless.
We are appointed to this (I Thessalonians 3:3). So I mother on, refolding the laundry. Eating cold leftovers. Saying no. Pretending to like bugs. Plodding, slow, steady, hand in hand with a toddler, going around till it comes around. Or I step on a lego in the dark. Whichever comes first.