I walked my 7 year old daughter to bed tonight with a grateful heart; it was the first time in days that the effort to walk up the stairs didn’t wipe me out. It’s been a holiday season like no other at our house, one I hope is never repeated, one that I think would be impossible to repeat. I didn’t think it could get much worse and then I got hit with a fever and a new round of the flu on December 23rd. Whatever holiday trimmings I thought I’d managed to hang on to were quickly added to the pile of sacrifices already made. My pride gone, we literally survived the Christmas holiday. But even me being sick didn’t ruin it completely. I guess that’s part of the magic of Christmas. I know how I will remember this year, but I have a feeling most of my children will remember it as being like most others (thanks largely to online shopping and two day shipping!).
In November the hard drive on my laptop suddenly died. It’s been looked at by several different people and no one can find a hint of data on it. Two years of pictures – almost half of my youngest daughter’s life – gone. I’ve done a terrible job of posting this year – because I was trying to be a better mom. I’ve done an even worse job of printing photos – because I was busy being a mom. Journaling? None of that. And all those photos are gone. It’s been a month since it happened and it still makes me cry. I’ve been so mad at myself for not backing it up, but there’s nothing to be done about it. The parenting part of my daily life has been especially rugged for the past 2 months and I know it’s tainted how I feel about the entire year. I’d like nothing more than to look back at pictures of our trip to the beach, our trip to Arches, at any proof there was that I’m doing a good job and actually enjoying this motherhood thing. It’s all gone. The last year with all 8 of our children living at home. So many last things. And no record of any of them – them or the year before them. And the thought that being so consumed with trying to be a better mom caused me to slack on the “nonessential” task of blogging, or printing, or doing ANYTHING with those memories makes me want to scream. How could I have let motherhood rob me of THIS?
We got to re-create two science fair projects in one day. They were done, on the laptop, and then they were gone. Lots of scrambling and stress and frustration. So many things I’d prepared in advance so December would be manageable just didn’t happen. I find it almost funny how much I converted to digital this year only to lose it all. There were changes in my responsibilities at church in October that brought beautiful opportunities to serve but which also threw the moving parts of daily life into disarray. We still haven’t recovered, and the stress of trying to run faster while not managing my home well finally started making me physically ill. I’ve been getting up at 4:45 a.m. to get the family going on time before school, but waiting up till 11 or 11:30 for my son to come home from work, when he hangs out in our bedroom playing a game on his phone and finally starts talking about his day, his life, his friends, his thoughts. Such an important event to stay awake for, but man, it’s hard. Lack of sleep has certainly taken it’s toll. A couple of my children need an awful lot from me right now, feeling like full-time jobs in themselves, and the worry never goes away. I’ve missed doing things I love to do. They are good things, and they keep me balanced. I’ve reminded myself over and over again how happy I should be because I am anchored in Jesus Christ, and deep inside I am, because I have a game plan thanks to Him and I understand what needs to be fixed thanks to Him. Because of Him, all the big things are already worked out. That’s why we celebrate Christmas. I’ve worked very hard this year to conquer all negativity – and come a long way – but suddenly doubt and fear loomed large simply because I’m completely worn out. No one thing that’s happened has been so awful, but the mix of everything was well tailored for me and my weaknesses. As I’ve replayed it all in my mind from my position on the couch this week it makes perfect sense that I crashed.
And yet, it turned out the crash wasn’t all bad.
I’ve never spent Christmas laying on the couch just watching my children. I’ve always been hurrying around, cleaning up the mess, preparing the dinner, making sure the next phase of the day is ready while everyone else enjoys the flow. This year I hardly moved. Instead I observed them. I watched movies with them. My youngest two girls came dozens of times to check on me and snuggle for a while. We took naps together. They talked and talked and talked while I tickled their backs. I watched the children serve each other, play together, build relationships and make memories. I felt grateful for their patience with me, for how graciously they accepted the meager meals we had in place of our traditional celebrations. My husband and I have sat next to each other more than we have in months. It’s not fun being sick, but it caused me to be fully present. It was the only thing I could do. And it was actually quite a gift. A gift and a profound learning experience for me.
I’m typing this post from the new laptop my husband surprised me with for Christmas. I am terribly blessed. My heart aches about the pictures, but I have my children. They are strong and healthy, full of potential. They are trying to be good. We all are. So much living goes on under this roof every day – it’s no wonder there’s a mountain of worry and work to keep me company. I’ve been reminded that I’m a mentally, spiritually and emotionally healthy person when I properly protect the daily habits that nourish my spirit. I’m starting to get better. I am SO ready to close the door on 2014, but grateful for how my year-end challenges have honed my priorities and clarified my vision. I am full of hope and excitement for the new year.
And there is my summary of the last quarter of the year. I’m praying that the sweet, happy memories that I know I lived will come to my memory and I’ll record them as they do. It’s been a good year, a year of learning and stretching and trusting and trying. I knew that having everyone in school would be a good test of all my organizational powers and I was right. My only priority right now is to get the rest I need so I can carry it all again come January 5th and do it with more joy and confidence than I have for the past few weeks. And if I’m lucky I’ll get the house cleaned back up and maybe even squeeze in some sewing.
Life is good.