Friday, July 11, 2014

All You Need Is...

I went on vacation back "home" recently for two and half a weeks. It was wonderful! So restful. I had very little on my to-do list except to see friends and eat at missed restaurants. Although we stayed with a friend, my mom was close enough that we saw her every day and, by the end of the trip, my daughter was thoroughly excited when I mentioned seeing Grandma. I had a break from taking care of the house and pets, a break from the aloneness of my husband's deployment, and small breaks from being a "single" mom 24/7. I felt more rested than I have in ages. I even stopped taking naps with my daughter every day!

And then I came home. (So many homes in my life!) I am not about to say that everything went back to the crazy melt-down chaos that it had been before vacation, but it definitely didn't take long for the naps to be needed once again, for the stresses to creep back in. So I begin to really process: why was it that my trip was so restful? What exactly was so different?

For the last few years my life has been an uninterrupted series of preparations and adjustments: marriage, baby, moving, deployment. For two and a half blissful weeks, I wasn't preparing or adjusting to anything. I was just being. And so I found myself less snappy with my daughter, having better conversations with my husband, feeling less guilt and pressure. I was able to exist in the present for a few weeks and I began to see things I was missing before.

A dear friend recently sent me a little gem of a book called "Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches." In the opening chapter, the author talks about how everything in the house can be chaos except her own attitude. If she has perspective and a good attitude, then the rest of it will be just fine. I think this is my lesson for this season. I think that is what my vacation started to teach me.

When living through a season of chaos, there is often little you can do about the chaos. It can be overwhelming, exhausting, disorderly (obviously), and downright discouraging. It is easy to let the stresses rise and to lose sight of what is important in the midst of SO MUCH STUFF. Enjoying my daughter is important. Enjoying my husband is important. Living today and not yesterday or tomorrow is important. Trying to remember to "be" in this moment is important. It is all a matter of persepctive.

What's funny to me is that the days where I am able to let go of all the "little things,"--to keep perspective--I get more done. I have more energy. Instead of looking at my to-do list with guilt and dread, I am willing to stop and make cookies with my daughter and laugh together and suddenly we both have better attitudes for the daily chores. Instead of looking around the house and only seeing the crumbs and dog hair everywhere, I begin to see the fun little fixes I could do to move this table there or replace that lamp with one I like better--to enjoy my home instead of feeling weighed down by it. I am able to focus on the joys of the day instead of being overwhelmed by the irritations and the undone.

If it sounds like I have gained perfect perpective and thoroughly mastered this lesson, I haven't. It's new and hard. I still find myself snapping at my daughter as I have to tell her to stop pulling out the entire roll of toilet paper for the MILLIONTH TIME. I still find myself battling guilt when I see the 3+ loads of clean laundry that have been sitting on the bed waiting to be folded for a week. I still find myself worrying about the future and whether my husband will be able to get home early for the new baby or not. But I also have been finding moments where I can throw a blanket over my head and listen to my daughter squeal as I tickle her. Moments where I can go to the thrift store and find a little painting to hang in the bathroom and make me smile every day. Moments where the future looms but I can push back the dread and instead think about the delight of learning to love another beautiful creation of God as much as I love my toddler already.

I pray that God continually gives me perspective. Because I lose it on my own every day. But when I remember that He is in control, that no one but me really cares that there are ants in my kitchen, that my family is beautiful and delightful even more than they are irritating and exhausting, then I am finding I enjoy life a whole lot more. In fact, I am seeing that there is more life to enjoy than I really imagined. I just needed to change my viewpoint.