"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Struggling to Inhale

The knock on my door came at 8:00 this morning.

She was telling me to get up, she had to leave in twenty minutes.

An hour before I normally get up, I interpreted that as another twenty minutes to sleep.

Twenty minutes later, I dragged myself out of bed and got ready, knowing my day was already pressed, already being crushed.

I would have to spend the day watching little ones, which I don't normally mind, except I had to get up an hour earlier than I had planned and somehow still manage to get a whole list of things done and live up to expectations.

I do better when I make my own lists of things to do and set my own expectations.  Usually.

Worse, I would have to fit the hour of slow waking, slow praying, slow reading, slow getting ready for the day, into less than an hour of trying to slow while being distracted by little ones doing what they do best - making noise.

I tried, and mostly succeeded, still ending up rushing a little as they begged me to come sculpt with them.

A couple short hours of "Please stop destroying your sister's creations", "Please don't kick your brother while he's trying to read", and "Please keep your limbs to yourselves and watch the show you wanted to see" with these ones I care about flowed into the most trying words of the day:

"What do you want for lunch?"

The not-picky one didn't want anything with sauce, which ruled out my common staple of whatever kind of pasta I can throw together.

The not-picky one also didn't want macaroni and cheese, a dish the picky one was sure to like.

The not-picky one wanted jambalaya, and the picky one seemed willing to try, and I knew there were noodles in the fridge for when the picky one said "No.  I don't like it.", so I agreed.

It took longer than expected to cut the sausage into the pan,

Brown it,

Pour the hot water over it,

Dump in pasta and spices,

Bring the mixture to a boil,

Cover all and let simmer for ten minutes,

Uncover all and let sit to thicken for five minutes.

All the while, oldest of these young ones wandered, silently (and sometimes verbally) complaining that lunch was not ready, pacing and waiting for a mountain of food that, of course, still would not satisfy, as if I wasn't doing enough.

Just what I needed.  More pressure.

When the milk was finally poured, forks were finally laid out, and I pronounced the meal "ready", they came.

Squabbling while washing hands, slow to sit, yet eager to eat.

I pulled out a spoon and scooped up a chunk of the picky one's beloved turkey sausage, along with a single delicious-looking noodle, unfortunately covered in a sauce that the picky one would probably like if not too busy staring and worrying and not wanting to like.

I asked the picky one to taste these little bits - just these little bits - to see if they were acceptable or not.

The picky one downright refused.

The picky one wandered, angrily searching through cupboards and refridgerator for a hint of one of the few things he would eat.

I knew where some were.

I pulled leftover noodles from fridge, asked how many the picky one wanted.

The picky one, whining, pouting, and complaining, stopped to shout, "No noodles!" . . .

Just what I needed.  More pressure.

 . . . and that was it.

I snapped.

I said, angry and loud, that if he didn't appreciate my work or my willingness to help him get something he would eat, he could find his own food for lunch.

As soon as the angry words were out, I knew I shouldn't have.

I'm sorry, Lord, for snapping.  I'm sorry for being so impatient with this picky one who seemingly never likes anything I make.  I'm sorry for not biting my tongue, inhaling, calming, exhaling, thinking of something better to say.  Please forgive me.  (Again.)

Trying still to control my impulse to be angry and hurtful toward this precious little one, I scooped out food for myself and sat, waiting for him to stop.

He still walked, pacing, whining, pouting, all around the room.

Another of these younger ones also got fed up, asked the picky one to go complain in his room, where the rest of us wouldn't hear.

Then came the wailing, the crying.

He went up, still crying.

We heard it over the baby monitor.

When he came back down, I asked if he wanted the noodles, trying to make amends by offering to help again.

He still refused, wandered, sat, read.

Finally, he decided he was too hungry to skip lunch.

I asked what he wanted, ended up slicing an apple, heaping peanut butter on Ritz crackers, and cutting out a brownie.

Still, he complained.

"The milk's not cold."

I calmly told him that it had been cold when I set it out for him.

He calmly put the cup in the refrigerator.

As I tried to feed the picky one, the oldest asked for yogurt and the not-picky one asked for dessert.

Standing, working to provide picky one with food, now faced with additional demands.

Just what I needed.  More pressure.

Somehow, I provide for all while all beg to go swimming before lunch is even over.

Finally, all finish and I send them to get swimsuits.

One is on top of me, trying to measure her height against mine, crushing, pressing.

Just what I needed.  More pressure.

Then this one does the unexpected, throws arms around me, wraps me in warm embrace.

The pressure starts to release.

I inhale.

I inhale this unexpected moment, this releasing of the pressure that has been building since before I dragged myself out of bed, this precious and priceless expression of love.

As they rush to put on swimsuits, then to jump into green pool, and I hurry them out the door, longing for more pressure release, I begin to think . . .

About all I have to do.

Start dinner by four.

Get ready to leave by five-thirty.

Blog because I won't have time later.

Find a way to release more pressure.

They finally leave, and phone rings with more to add to my list, then truck pulls in drive with more to add to my list, and I stand in the hot sun . . .

Just what I needed.  More pressure.

This is when I find a moment to give thanks(Again.)

More pressure is released. 
As I stand, taking responsibility, trying to get this one thing done while not thinking about how much time this one thing is eating up that it shouldn't be, his car pulls in.

I realize that now I don't have to make dinner.

Somehow, I go back in and it all gets done.

Somehow, I find another moment to inhale,

To remember the good things that have been buried under this weight,

The moments of unexpected love and joy,

The inhale moments,

The one hundred twenty-five gifts I've counted today.

Today, in the midst of the pressure, I found one hundred twenty-five simple things I am so thankful for.

Somehow, in the pressure, I forget the joys of the colorful mess on the table, . . .

The sculpting of "trees", . . .

And pyramids, . . .

And Stargates, . . .

And people, . . .

And hamburgers, . . .

And rainbows, . . .

And hidden treasures, . . .

And families:

The shaping of joy.

When I can move past the pressure, past the feelings of failure, I can see that these moments have been surrounded by many other moments:

Moments of time together,

Moments of creating and imagining together,

Moments of reading together,

Moments of resting together,

Hundreds of tiny inhale moments.

Somehow, lunch had overshadowed a good morning.

Yep, I still think I was right.

In spite of all the pressures, all the demands, I still think I could be happy here.

Here in the tiny moments of giggles, . . .

And made-up silly songs, . . .

And sitting in twisted positions turning pages, . . .

And, yes, in the moments of whining and wailing and learning that I can't be perfect but I can learn and try to do better.

Right here,

Right now,

I can inhale,

Finding joy

And giving thanks

This is the first blog in a three-part series.  Please keep in mind that it was originally intended to stand alone.  Though it has been edited, remnants of ideas that can be found in the two subsequent posts still remain.  To read all three parts of the series, use the links below:
     Struggling to Inhale
     Fighting to Exhale
     Reaching for Release

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