The calm after the storm

At around 3am Sunday morning, I no longer felt like my heart was swollen and taking over my body. I mostly felt exhausted, and a bit embarrassed by my behavior. I woke up to Timmy crying and stood up from the couch and immediately sat back down, placing my hand on my throbbing head. I tried to remember why I was asleep on the couch and how long I had been there, but Timmy's cries grew stronger and stronger, and I decided it didn't really matter why I was there.

I forced myself up again and stumbled into the bedroom. I nursed him, put him back in his crib and crawled in bed for the first time that night. It was close to 4am. I looked at Tim sleeping peacefully, and I resisted waking him to apologize, but oh how I wanted to apologize. I had acted like a maniac. It closely resembled what we call "black-out rage" in our girls.

Morning came too quickly, and I found myself out of bed making chocolate milk for the girls as if nothing had happened. I was calm. Sad, but calm.

Moving is so hard. I am terribly lonely, but I am so grateful for my kids. Without them talking to me, I think I'd go crazy! Things will get better. I know that from experience. It's just going to take awhile before we find a routine again.

Inevitable

Inevitably a couple of weeks after every move I experience a day where life seems to come crashing down around me. It happens all of a sudden and cannot be stopped.

Today was that day.

We were walking through the bookstore at Notre Dame when I felt panicked by the fact that I was completely surrounded by people and places that were 100% foreign to me. I should mention that the day had not gone as planned and my kids were not being particularly well behaved at that same moment, which probably lead to my quick demise. My heart sunk to my toes; the light in my eyes burned out, and I was left with anger rising in my veins.

It rose until it burst in the car while my kids watched bewildered by this being that now inhabited their mother's body. But I didn't care. I'm not sure I do now either.

I don't feel angry now. I just feel nothing. Well, everything and nothing, which somewhere in my brain divides itself into nothing so I am numb. And I want to crawl under the covers and reappear in a familiar place--not necessarily Texas, but not here, not now. Oddly, I think the place I want to go is home. I want to hide at my parents' house because I know they'd understand, but I can't.

I must remain here in this gray city where I have little adult interaction and zero alone time away from the kids, unless you count a run to the grocery store when they're sleeping, which I don't because that's lame. I have no friends. I changed time zones so reaching my existing friends has been hard. My heart is a little bit broken.

This is self pity at its finest folks. I am pathetic, and I know it, but somehow I am trying to trick my brain into believing that if I write about it perhaps it will change. Wish me luck.

2017

I suppose you can say we jumped into 2017 with both feet. We dove right into the deep end actually. I guess when I really think hard about it, I never actually left the deep end, I just learned to stay afloat, but Tim and definitely jumped in with me when we turned the keys to our first home over to our Texas realtor.

For 2 months, I cleaned and prepared the house for showings, and then once we had a buyer, I began going through the piles and closets full of stuff. Day by day I decluttered. It was refreshing and exhausting. Day by day I prepared myself for December 28th--the day we'd say goodbye to the small town that had very much become our home. It never really felt real, not even when the movers began to box and load all of our belongings into the truck or when I saw the house just as empty as the day we moved in. It didn't feel real for the first 400 miles of the trip. It only started to feel real this morning when I looked outside and found myself staring at snow flurries and my heart sunk just a little knowing I had no friend to visit or place to take my kids to burn energy.

The first few months in a new place is always the hardest. And seeing as we are living in temporary housing for several weeks until we can close on our new house, I am certain we will be feeling growing pains for quite some time. We are, however, so grateful to have an independent home to live in as we wait; the thought of returning to a month-to-month apartment lease struck fear into my heart when we learned the sellers couldn't get out of the house until the middle of February. The kids can be loud without fear of waking the downstairs "giant," which is the nickname we gave our downstair's neighbor at the Texas apartment complex. She was awful. She made that particular summer extra difficult, and I am glad to not experience the same thing here. However, because we live across state lines, the girls will be enrolled in a Michigan school for 5ish weeks until we move to Indiana. I feel terrible making them switch again, but it's the only real option so we're trying to keep our chins up.

The moving insecurities are ever present right now, but I know they will slowly disappear with time. I've decided to use the word "take it slow" for my motto in 2017. Not only did we move to a new location, but so many things in my life are changing with this new year. There will be no more babies in my belly (which is still incredibly hard for me to wrap my head around). There will be no more newborns in our home. We are entering a new phase where we watch our babies grow. I even have the hope of helping out at the kids' schools one day. Or reentering the workforce full-time. Tim and I have already taken a few steps (thanks to the encouragement of some dear friends) to help strengthen a few areas of our relationship, and I hope that we will find more opportunities to date now that we won't be so attached to our babies. So much of me is anxious to see what the future will hold, but there is still a large part of me clinging to the past because it's what I know and what I am good at. I am good with babies--well, my babies that is. I'm not about to sign up for babysitting anytime soon. I am reasonably good at moving around the country in support of my husband's career so laying down roots is actually very intimidating for me. And I've been so good about knowing myself the past few years that not knowing the future me is crazy to think about.

But I'm going to take life slow. I'm going to kiss my babies' cheeks a million times before they outgrow their need for physical touch (Mya's already hitting that stage). I'm going to rock Timmy a little bit longer than needed before each nap because it's the only time I get to just be with him and watch his bright blue eyes roll stare straight up at me. I'm going to help Elle learn to read this year as we spend our afternoons together. I'm going to play soccer with Mya in the yard because I love to dribble around her quick feet and make her momentarily mad at me. I'm going to continue teaching Genevieve how to cook and bake. If it wasn't for her rebellious streak, I'd worry that she'd be married by 18 just so she could have babies and be in the kitchen. Haha. And I'm going to be patient with Birdie as she tries to communicate with me because even though she drives me batty with her incessant whines, I know it's just a passing phase. I'm going to take my life slowly, and I'm going to try and enjoy it along the way. I'm praying 2017 is good for us, and I'm really hoping by the end of next year I can be back in shallow waters, even if it's just for a moment.

Moving on

Forgive my absence. Life's been busy--to say the least. I have often thought how therapeutic it would be to sit down and write my thoughts at night, but I haven't had the energy to do so. A month or so I finally took a big gulp and asked my doctor for extra help with postpartum. Up to that point, I had been trying to navigate the constant storm of emotions by openly talking with Tim, friends, family and professionals. Talking seemed to help to a point. But then it stopped helping. Talking started feeling like a terrible task, and I started to avoid calls and visits, and I retreated inward and away from people who were trying to help. The farther I slipped into my own world, the more frustrated I became with the dominant spirit inside my body. I constantly felt anger and sadness. Happiness seemed but a distant memory, even when everything around me was okay and there was no proverbial or literal "spilled milk." So I talked to Tim and we decided that I would try medicine to calm my troubled heart, and as much I hate to admit it, it is really helping. I feel soooo much better. Of course, I'm not going to lie to you--I don't really feel like myself. I feel like there is this invisible IV constantly dripping some serum into my nervous system that calms me down when I would otherwise be a bit out of sorts. It's like a foreign person takes charge of me a lot during the day, and I still can't decide whether it's a good thing or a bad thing. My kids seem to appreciate a less grumpy mom, and I am loving them a lot more too. But the one HUGE drawback to my "happy pills" as Tim so lovingly calls them is that I am always tired. Like if I didn't know my tubes were tied, I'd believe I was pregnant every single day. My body is constantly wiped out and in zombie-mode.

It has been a real struggle to manage my normal life with the addition of medication. But life hasn't really been normal so I've had to muster all my courage and energy to get through the past 45 days or so. Tim accepted a new job a couple of months back, and in preparation for the move, we put our house on the market about a week before I started taking medication. It was a really hard week; we'll just leave it at that. We finally have our house under contract now, and we'll be leaving Texas for Indiana at the end of December. I am so grateful to be done with showings and open houses; you cannot imagine what it was like to keep the house immaculate with 5 young kids running around. And although we are extremely aware of the great opportunity that awaits Tim at his new job, we cannot express how much our hearts ache as we prepare to move.

Texas, especially Van Alstyne, Texas, has grown on us. My kids wear boots with pride. The two older girls say y'all from time to time, and it no longer makes me cringe. I used to laugh when I'd drive through our "downtown" because it isn't really what I'd consider a downtown, but now I find it endearing. There's a gazebo next to City Hall, and every season a few older women decorate it for the appropriate holiday. I drove by the other day and saw them carefully wrapping garland around the posts, and my heart sank because those women embody all that this town is. There is so much pride here for the town. Every where you look, you'll see panther paws on buildings, in windows, on cars and on signs outside homes. No matter how old you are, everyone attends the football games. It is a treat.

So that's where I am. I am in this weird place that I have oddly been more than I ever thought I'd be. I'm preparing for another big change that will no doubt complicate my life but will eventually bring so much happiness to it too. I believe that, even though I am scared at the moment. I am comfortable here. I have people to serve. People serve me. I have great friends. I have my sacred places. I love my neighborhood and my particular corner of neighbors. I have Cami; life has been bright since she moved here, and I fear it will feel dim for some time when we're not together. Texas, even if I have always admitted it, has been good for me.

To be loved so much

Timothy James-7 months

How is he 7 months old already?! I remember when I hit 7 months of pregnancy, and it felt like it had been a century of waiting to meet him. But now his first 7 months have just blown by in the blink of an eye, and my heart doesn't really know how to cope with my ever-growing baby.

I could not have imagined loving a baby boy so much. I had so much fear about raising a boy, but having Timmy is the most natural thing in the world. Tim and I tell each other all the time how complete he makes our lives feel. He is a huge ray of sunshine in our lives, especially my life. I am not sure if any of my babies have loved me the way he loves me. It's as if his eyes sparkle when he sees me, and it is so good for my soul. Tim will often get him at night when he cries and we're still awake, and he'll try to hide him from me so that I can continue working, but Timmy will not be fooled. He knows I am around and he stubbornly shifts around and around until he lays his eyes on me. And when he does, the pinkie falls from his mouth and a big, gummy smile flashes my way. If Tim doesn't instantly give him to me, his smile quickly turns to a panicked cry, and he reaches for me to hold him. This is our usually routine every single night. 

Timmy is a necessary piece of our family puzzle. Each girl in our home holds a special place for him next to them, and he fits perfectly with each piece. I can't imagine life without him now and am grateful that God knew I needed a boy because I sure didn't think I did. 

Play


This evening I am grateful my girls play so well together. The older girls ran off the bus at 3:15, and they have been playing together ever since. No one has asked to turn the television on or watch an iPad. No one has started any fights (which happens more often than not). They've been doctors, makeup artists, teachers, students, athletes and a variety of animals in the past 3 hours, and it has, as it always is, been a joy to listen to. I love listening to them giggle and whisper secrets to each other.

Every day isn't perfect. There are days they don't get along, but for the most part, they are each other's closest friend and confidant. They are mindful of each other and really try to do whatever is necessary that the other person might be happy. I love them and am glad I have been able to foster such strong bonds between them.

What I hope to teach her about faith someday






Mya was baptized on Saturday October 29th. She looked like an angel in her jumpsuit and dress. In the moment, I felt a million emotions, and only now after a few days have passed am I able to articulate my feelings of that day.

We had been preparing Mya for baptism for over a year. We'd teach her an aspect of Christ's gospel and ask, "Does that make sense? Do you have any questions? Would you like to follow....(honesty, tithing, chastity, etc.)?" Sometimes she'd say yes. Other times she'd say no. Oddly enough I was never discouraged by her occasional no. I felt each answer led to more teaching and more understanding, and I believe becoming a disciple of Christ is a lifelong mission so I was very accepting of every step she took that led her to her decision to be baptized.

Of course as the months ticked off the calendar and she watched more and more of her peers choose to be baptized, her desire to be baptized grew stronger, and she finally asked to be baptized. The days leading up to her baptism were filled with innocent and hopeful questions like "Mama, what if I mess up? What if I don't know everything? Will I feel Him?" Each query resonated in my pondering heart, and I reflected on how I felt all those years ago when I too chose to be baptized. I think the biggest memory I have of my experience was returning home from the church and sitting on my bed alone. I remember thinking how I wanted to do everything right so I didn't have to say I'm sorry to anyone, especially God. I think I made it to 6pm that day without making a single mistake, and I thought that was quite the accomplishment.

As I shared my story with Mya, I reminded her that baptism is just a step, albeit an important one, on our faith journey. And I told her that I was proud of her for wanting to be like Jesus and that no matter what He and I would always love her, even if she made a mistake. I could've told her a million other things that I've learned about faith and Christ, but I kept it simple. Time will gift me the opportunity to teach her what I know as she grows and matures.

What I hope to tell her someday is that faith in Jesus Christ is more than an institution or a religion. It's more than words or hymns in a book. It can't be proven with facts, but it certainly isn't fiction. Faith in Jesus Christ isn't (or at least it shouldn't be) passive or dormant. It isn't something someone can convince you of no matter how hard they try. It is something you have to want--want so badly that your body literally hungers and thirsts to know Him and then to be like Him. Faith will ebb and flow. There will be years she will feel so close to God, and then there will be years she'll wonder where He is at all. Faith will feel like a light in this somewhat confusing and dark tunnel we call life.

I will also tell her throughout her life that I believe in Jesus Christ. I know He is real. I felt His presence as she gracefully entered the waters of baptism at the hand of her father. I know of Christ's love. The very thought of his love makes my heart feel joy, even and perhaps especially when life doesn't feel very joyful. Becoming like Him is my ultimate goal. It's a bit of a challenge in my current life situation because I don't always have time to read His words, and I often fall asleep during my prayers at night, but I'm trying. And I absolutely believe He knows that.

Someday I will tell her all these things, but for now I will keep theses feelings of love and gratitude close to my heart because it truly is a remarkable thing to help God's children on their path back to Him.