I'm tediously typing this with one hand.
I cut myself a few nights ago with an extremely sharp knife my husband made. I thought about blaming him, or just the year 2020 but it's undeniably my fault.
I was trying to pry two frozen burritos apart. Yes, frozen bean burritos. Of course it had to be something completely lame.
I knew it was stupid, dangerous even, so I was trying to be careful. I was trying to go slow.
(How often do we continue to do stupid things even though we know they're stupid???! Just me?)
But it didn't matter. The burritos popped apart and the knife sliced deep into my left middle finger.
I knew I needed to go to the hospital immediately, mostly because I saw my tendons, but I wasn't freaking out. Not even with all the blood. Just a cut. Just some stitches. I was more worried about leaving the baby for that long.
After an hour in the ER, several stitches later, and the accompanying examination I learned I severed at least one tendon and would need surgery.
Ok. I knew I needed surgery but I wasn't freaking out. Just a simple surgery. Just a little hiccup. There are smart people for this. After Monday I'd start healing and get back to life.
After my appointment with the surgeon the next day, I realized I hadn't even thought past surgery. A 10 week recovery, including physical therapy, waited for me after surgery. I was going to be one handed with a newborn baby for the next 10 weeks.
As this sunk in, my resolve quivered and I started to freak out.
You see, I feel like I've been sick for AGES. First, I had a breakdown and was diagnosed with severe high functioning depression. I put the breaks on anything extra and began focusing on my mental health.
I learned during this time that I held a deeply rooted belief that I couldn't be sick. I'll spare you the childhood trauma but I basically developed a belief that if I were sick and unable to be productive EVERYTHING WOULD FALL APART and it would all be my fault.
I simply couldn't have depression. But, I did.
Then, my mental health affected my physical health and I was diagnosed with a chronic bladder condition that was just waiting to flare up. I was in so much pain I could hardly walk some days.
I simply couldn't be sick. But, I was.
Slowly, things got better, medication, a small surgery, and a huge support system helped me heal.
Then, I got pregnant earlier than we planned. Like a year earlier.
And so commenced 5 months of severe morning sickness, some bed rest for a hemorrhage, and 4 hot summer months (is summer even that long?) of being really uncomfortably pregnant and paranoid of sending myself into pre-term labor like my last pregnancy.
During pregnancy I was so sick I didn't even have the ability to think "I can't be sick." But, I was.
Then, finally, I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Ella. And began the following six weeks of healing.
I was feeling so excited about feeling healthy. Everything in life was going well. I started writing my novel again, my articles were getting picked up and READ by actual people, my little wreath making business was growing, our goats had babies, everyone was happy and healthy....
Then, the same day as my 6 week appointment with my midwife and my last almost 2 hour drive for said appointment, (halleluiah) I cut my finger and earned myself 10 weeks of weekly physical therapy appointments each with their own long drive.
And I'm learning all the things I can't do on my own anymore. I am literally mourning a loss of freedom.
I simply cannot have this injury, I thought.
On the way home from meeting my surgeon, winding through canyons, I kept telling my husband how beautiful the mountains were, how the fall colors were so stunning. His reply was that it looked dry. I mentioned it a few more times, confused as to why he wasn't as enthralled as I.
Finally he said "Maybe it's my sunglasses." which caused me to pull mine away from my eyes. Everything WAS dry. It wasn't pretty at all. I hadn't realized I was wearing rose colored glasses.
Realizing this was a bit depressing.
But, looking at the rose colored glasses in my hand, I decided to put them back on. Everything was pretty again.
And as I sat there enjoying the colors passing by my window, I realized that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. I can't change the trees but I can view them through rose colored glasses.
I can't change the fact that I injured myself. But I can be grateful it isn't too serious.
I can't change the fact that I am one handed for a while, but I can learn new ways to do things and grow in resilience.
I can't change the fact that things are harder but I can learn to ask for and accept help.
I can choose to wear rose colored glasses.
Now I see the blessings all around me. My children aren't hurt, nor my husband whose hands we rely on for our income.
This cut was an accident. Not self inflicted, as it could have been in darker times.
I'm more grateful for my body and all the functions we generally take for granted.
I have more empathy for those with disabilities and I'm grateful for their examples. I can't tell you how many times I thought "If they could do that, then I can do this..."
I have lots of opportunities to be proud of myself. For example: I learned how to dress my newborn baby (diaper, snaps, and all) one handed. Along with a million other things.
I am learning to let go. (Apparently I haven't learned this one well enough yet.) It's okay if daddy has a turn with bath time for a while, and it's okay if I get less done. My worth isn't found in my productivity.
I have given my older daughters an opportunity to serve and love extra and they have taken that opportunity. I get to watch them do more and be more. I get to witness them becoming. I get to see what they've been taught.
I'm sure that during this trial the glasses will come off occasionally and I'll feel the heaviness of all the things I can't change. I'll worry that the glasses are keeping me from reality.
But, I hope I'll remember to put them back on. Because how we view our reality is something we CAN change.
So, for the near future, I'll be rocking my rose colored glasses... and some sort of cast.
P.S. Microwave the burritos if they're stuck.
I am an introvert.
Basically, I like quiet. I like to be alone. I like peace.
And I'm a mom.
As you can imagine, being an introvert & being a mom doesn't always mix.
Introverts breathe in solace and breathe out society. Being around people, even little people, expends our energy. That doesn't mean we hate it, it's just tiring.
Being alone restores us.
But finding sufficient alone time isn't the only hard thing about being an introverted mother. I have a whole list:
I hate play dates. Having them isn't the issue, it's setting them up: coordinating, scheduling, remembering, driving... Even when someone invites my kids to their house it stresses me out. Ridiculous, I know. Especially because most of my children's friends are my friends. And I love my friends. But there we are.
Doing cool stuff with my kids, stresses me out. I mean, I can't even buy groceries without worrying my children will be kidnapped. (which unfortunately isn't an illogical fear anymore) So why would I subject myself to a zoo or museum? We have a small list of comfort zones: home, the farm, grandma's, the mountain, the ranch, and sometimes Hobby Lobby.
The idea of my child -let alone more than one- being in sports/dance/music lessons which requires me to consistently drive them somewhere, remember things, and interact with other adults gives me major anxiety.
I don't like to do my girls' hair. Yes, I have 4 daughters and I don't like doing their hair. Well, I like doing the baby's hair. But everyone else cries or complains or tries to run away and it all just becomes a fight. And I'm not really good at doing hair anyway so it never quite turns out how we imagine. Grandpa Todd started calling 3 year old Adeline "Tarzan" because she had long wild hair and is usually half naked. It's fine. Might as well be wild and half naked while you can.
And I especially hate bedtime. The whole to do list of bedtime. PJ's. Teeth. Homework. The "you said we could..." or "we forgot to..."s. UGH. The begging for snuggles and stories and heart to hearts while I'm exhausted and so DONE. All made worse by the anticipation of that quiet, peaceful, alone time I've been craving is enough to make me crazy.
I used to feel immense guilt for hating playdates and hair and bedtime. Over time I started to deeply believe that I wasn't a good mother.
Everyone else seemed to do these things easily so I thought that I should too. I should put my kids in every available sport/ class. I should have a play date for each child several times a week. I should learn how to do fancy hairdos. I should read to my kids before bed. I should snuggle with them. I should take them on dates. I should do more. I should be more.
The should list grew and so did the stress and anxiety. I became the awful mother I believed I was.
Then one night, I was in Vegas with my husband. We had hired a nanny to take care of our kids and made arrangements with family so I could join him last minute on this business trip. (We both knew I desperately needed to get away) We went to a movie while there, The Avengers End Game. It was late and I would have preferred sleeping but I fought to keep my eyes open (because how often do you go to a movie without kids?), and I'm so glad I did. Thor, the heavy, depressed, broken and aimless version of Thor, goes back in time and runs into his mother. She says something in that moment that hit me so hard it felt like a physical blow. "Everyone fails at who they are supposed to be."
EVERYONE FAILS AT WHO THEY ARE SUPPOSED TO BE.
EVERYONE. FAILS. AT. WHO. THEY. ARE. SUPPOSED. TO. BE.
I was trying to be who I thought I was supposed to be. I thought I was supposed to have play dates like Ashley. I thought I was supposed to do amazing hairdos like Kristy. I thought I was supposed to put my kids in every sport available like Lisa. I thought I was supposed to gently love my children to sleep every night like Marissa. I thought I was supposed to do cool stuff with my kids like Kara.
I thought I was supposed to be something I'm not.
No wonder I felt like I was failing.
So now, I'm being brave and working on play dates, but we don't have them often and that's okay.
I've learned a few hairstyles, but we keep it pretty and simple. I'm teaching my older girls to brush their own hair so I don't have to. And that's okay.
We've signed our kids up for a few classes so they can learn what they like but we also recognize all the amazing unique things they already do and get to experience. And it's all okay.
And bedtime. I don't read bedtime stories, we read earlier. My older girls and I use a mommy & me journal to write down all those heart to hearts and we love sneaking them under each other's pillows. Each night we pray and kiss goodnight and that's it. And that's okay.
We do things differently than the Ashley's and Kristy's and Kara's and that's okay.
My kids are happy. They are fulfilled and loved and thriving. And now so am I.
I'm not failing because I'm learning to embrace myself, to be myself.
I am an introvert,
AND a great mom.
The last couple weeks have been amazing. I wish I was sharing my birth story today, but it will have to wait. Today I'm just writing. Writing because I'm a hot mess and can't get anything else done anyway.
Maybe it's the hormones.
Maybe it's the exhaustion.
Maybe it's the soreness, all the change my body has and is going through.
Maybe it's the colds we all got when the baby came home.
Maybe it's the bipolar weather.
Maybe it's the dishes. The laundry. The clutter.
Maybe it's the meals I should make.
Maybe it's the baby blues.
Maybe it's the pressure to meet everyone's needs.
Maybe it's knowing my older girls feel a little neglected and not being able to fix it.
Maybe it's the depressing posts on social media. Men raping infants. Rioters ripping people out of cars and beating them. Cities destroyed. The constant political fight between Americans. Covid.
Maybe it's all of it.
Does it matter?
Knowing the cause doesn't really make the emotions go away. (Although I should really stop with the social media for a while.)
The way I'm feeling definitely isn't for lack of blessings. The past few weeks have been full of them.
I've had tons of love and support. My parents came to stay. Friends and family checking in. Bringing meals. Bringing gifts. Sending love. Offering help. My husband and girls pulling extra weight. Being so patient with me.
And I've had way more good days (amazing, stare at my beautiful child all day and play with her hair days) than bad.
I guess what I'm saying is: Today just sucks. I'm emotional. I'm tired. I'm sore. I'm sad for the world. I'm feeling inadequate. And I have no energy to find the purpose or bright side today, but that's OK.
Today can suck. The house can be a mess. The world can be a mess. I can be a mess.
I'm going to stop trying to be so damn productive. I'm going to cry, maybe take a bath, eat some Tillamook ice cream. Chocolate, of course. And I'm going to love on my baby and let my big girls watch their favorite movies all afternoon.
And tomorrow, well, tomorrow will come. And I'll let it be whatever mess it needs to be.
Hi! I'm Amy
I am a Christian wife and mother, a writer, and a recovering perfectionist who is tired of chasing happiness in all the wrong ways. I am now on a journey to find a deeper state of being. Join me on My Peace Project and we'll learn how to survive the chaos together!