Real as it Gets
I have been writing this week’s edition of Keeping it Real in my head since yesterday. I’m going to make an attempt to write it, but don’t have high hopes. A microburst hit our little neighborhood tonight so we’re in hour four without power and I’m writing from my phone in the dark, too hot to sleep. A power outage right at the end of a heatwave is pretty poor timing, but at least we have power most of the time, right?
But back to keeping it real – I love these posts for creating a space for celebration and honesty all at once.
It’s a beautiful thing to cultivate gratitude, but when that’s all we do, it can be both inauthentic and alienating of others. Life is the hardest beautiful thing we all experience, and I’m always so grateful when others are willing to share their challenges as well as their triumphs. It is in this spirit that I write today’s post. My goal is not to complain or wallow in self-pity, but to share that no matter how blessed I feel in my life, I sometimes find it incredibly, awfully hard. And of course as much as it can be hard to cope, there are always incredible blessings to hold me up and remind me that it all balances out in the end.
I have more to say than fits in a short list today…
Moving is hard, folks. Although we have made it through to the other side of the move, we’re still living without most of our belongings, and we’re still settling in. I’m often tired, often overwhelmed, and often grumpy.
We’re spending money left and right – stocking the pantry, finding window coverings, buying car seats and birth supplies and paying midwives’ fees. We planned for all of this, and we’re fortunate to be able to take care of all of it with some creative budgeting, but no matter how much planning you do, it’s stressful to watch your bank account as it slowly drains.
Annabelle is, quite understandably, seeming a bit unsettled and is needing so much patience from me at a time when patience is in short supply. As I wrote about earlier this week, I’ve been prioritizing quality time to focus on just her and that has taken so much pressure off, allowing me to just enjoy and appreciate the wonderful child she is. I foolishly expected that shift to be a quick fix, however, and when at the end of a day where I did little but read books, snuggle, and play, she walked out of the bedroom announcing with a smile that, for the fourth time in just over an hour, she had peed on our bed, I couldn’t do anything else but cry. I was completely at a loss, as I have been several times in the past week. What in the world was I doing wrong!? Perhaps it just comes down to a need to relax, let go, and adjust my expectations. Today was much better, and for that I am grateful.
The tiredness, the leaky bank account, and the parenting challenges have left me with even less patience for my poor husband than for the rest at the end of the day. I’m relieved that we have made it this far without driving one another literally crazy and just hold on to hope that our survival thus far bodes well for the next few months. Things I haven’t written much about are also factoring in there, like the fact that he’s in the middle of starting a new business and I’m in school and at the end of a term with gobs of work due. Perfect storm.
Anyway, it has been hard. I’ve been irritable, impatient, frustrated, and at times completely at a loss. I know these times come, and I know I’m immensely blessed despite it all. I’m trying to trust that I’ll come out of all this stronger and better able to withstand all of the major life changes in our future.
I have been completely overwhelmed by the generosity of our brand new community. Just after learning that our belongings won’t be arriving until much later than expected, a neighbor shared that she had a toddler sized table and chairs to give away. Today was so much smoother than any before it, and simply being able to sit with Annabelle at a table her size, just for her, had so much to do with it. It seems like a small thing, but it was huge. Being able to borrow items from neighbors, like pots and pans, too, has made this so much less stressful. It’s amazing to have so many people willing to help us settle in comfortably without even really knowing us.
There are so many little things I had never thought of as missing from Anabelle’s childhood, but that I’m realizing she wasn’t exposed to on Guam. It has been such a joy to see her blow on a dandelion to send its seeds off into the wind. Being able to walk together to the park and the farmer’s market has been huge, as was getting her first library card. I had forgotten how much we had to look forward to coming back here, and I love introducing Annabelle to all of it.
I can’t even describe the contrast between the military hospital experience and having midwives visit you at home. The smile I got from listening to our baby’s heartbeat as a family, on the couch, was so big that it hardly fit across my face. Oh, and this sweet baby. He or she wiggles like crazy and feels so very big already! I’m so grateful for the crazy movements that help me shift my focus when I need to most. Such a beautiful thing, this little life.
And the husband. It worked out so beautifully that he wasn’t able to start his new job right away. As much as we have alternated between ticking each other off and driving each other crazy, I’m not sure I would have made it through the past couple of weeks without the extra time spent together, as a team. I’m so grateful that my shortcomings tend to be his strengths. I have really been relying on those strengths! Not having to shave has helped his case, too, as it makes him especially handsome and me a little more forgiving. In seriousness, though, at the end of the day I have a pretty fantastic partner by my side.
So that’s the messy and the beautiful of our week. It has probably been the most difficult for me as a parent, but I made it through, as did Annabelle, with little to no permanent damage.