Every afternoon, Ben flops into my red chair, opens the laptop, checks this blog and barks, “Mom, you need to write!”
And I’m flattered really, that he cares, that he takes interest in my ramblings and my pictures. It’s a gift to have an almost 18 year old son that cares about my life and my friends (oh yes, he reads YOUR blog too).
I have plenty to write about, hundreds of photos that I’d love to post, but I’m overwhelmed right now, desperately treading water and working my way through each day’s to-do list. I’m not a TV-watcher (not by virtue, simply by disinterest), but I find myself rushing past my television and looking at it longingly, thinking how nice it would be to sit, to turn off my brain and let my tired muscles sink into my soft leather couch.
Sometimes, I forget that six children are a full-time job and those are the times that I add in other things. But at the beginning of a school year, when I am signing papers and going to meetings and writing dozens of checks and running to the store for one more special folder or a pair of shoes without holes in the bottom– those are the times that I wonder that I take on anything else.
My children are enough. I wish I had nothing to do but play with them and create delicious dinners to share and plan fun weekends. I’ve often longed for a serene personality without the drive to accomplish, to create, to extend myself beyond my limits.
I limped out of the gym the other morning, settled into my car and buried my head into the steering wheel in sobs. I had just reinjured my calf muscle and the short walk to the car made my leg throb in pain. Mentally, I went through the day’s tasks: clean up the house for scripture group, a Young Women’s activity, dinner for a neighbor, a bike riding lesson for Mary…
With a renewed gratitude for my cell phone, I called my sister and choked out my sorrows between sniffles and wails, “I’m trying so hard, but everything I do goes wrong: I’m trying to exercise and I injure myself, I’m trying to be a good mother but I keep forgetting things, I’m trying to be a great Young Women’s President but I keep making mistakes, I’m trying to be a good friend but I know I’m offending people because I’m so tired, no mater how hard I work on photography, I can’t catch up**! I love my Scripture Study Group, but I can’t get my house clean on time.”
Ruth listened and agreed, and in her wise and quiet way said, “You’re forgetting about lag time.”
“Everything you do has a lag time. It takes a while for your efforts to pay off. Like when you go on a diet– you don’t lose weight right away, it takes a few weeks for your body to drop some pounds. Once people understand that you love them, they’ll forgive your mistakes. For some things the lag time is weeks, for others it’s years or even decades. But things do get better. Things will get better.”
I hung up tearfully, said a prayer and drove home to cry on my husband’s shoulder before tidying up the house. At Scripture Group I told my friends that I was drowning. It was hard to say out loud and as soon as the words spilled out I wanted to pull them back in and hide them. But they loved me and they understood. We’ll be studying the Doctrine & Covenants in my messy house on Tuesdays, 10 a.m. You’re invited. Kids are welcome.
Throughout the next few days calls and phone calls came in from friends who just wondered about me. And I laughed when I delivered dinner to a neighbor and came home to find a homemade lasagna on my own front porch.
I had thought that God expected me to keep rushing and working and trying, and then, He would give me a break. But instead, I had to give myself a break, to let go and give in.
Already, the mantra is coming true– things are getting better, things are getting better.
And Miss Mary wobbled on her bike and then soared. It was like watching an infant’s crooked smile or a baby’s first unsteady steps. It was like a miracle. Like hope.