I wrote these two snippets when I was in the midst of the summer of 2016, living by myself, taking care of the girls, and selling the schoolhouse. I didn’t feel comfortable publishing it at the time, but now that it is over, it feels safe to put these feelings out into the arcing reach of the Internet. Enjoy…
We are one month from moving and the goodbyes are already starting to roll in; some in the form of texts, others in final visits to old stomping grounds. Many I’m putting off and I keep reassuring people that we haven’t left yet. But I think they know what I am trying to deny: our time here is finite.
It’s been hard to process everything when I’m flying solo during the week. Sometimes the weight of three extra bodies needing everything from you is enough to bring you to your knees.
There are nights I spend running from bedside to bedside and not seeing nearly enough of my own.
There are nights where I lay awake, over-analyzing every little sound. No peace to be found.
There is a constant feeling that we are only one vomit, one fever, one car malfunction away from a disaster. The only reason we are holding together is because we are being held together. But one small upset in this delicate balance and you realize you cannot possibly sustain this lifestyle for very long.
During this time I prayed specifically against mastitis (I’ve always gotten it around the 6 week mark, which is the first week I was left on my own. This time I have been free of it!). I also prayed that in the absence of the girls’ earthly father, God would step in. He’s given me control over my fear at night for safety and has provided a few interactions for the girls with other men that reminded me of the way N interacts with them. Not a perfect substitute, of course, but enough of a break from me to give them some familiarity. Finally, I prayed that God would give me extra patience for the girls and that I wouldn’t say anything to them in frustration or anger I would regret. It’s amazing, but prayers do work. Although I did have to apologize to them twice for losing my patience so far, i’ve felt myself very calm and serene this entire time. Almost like I’d been drugged, I’ve been able to let so much roll over me without getting under my skin as it may normally on a given night when I am carrying the needs of the family by myself.
I feel like I am treading water. I set up a bunch of systems in place to keep things running without me turning the crank every time. But there’s only so much independence and reliance I can give to a five year old, three year old, and two month old.
MG is my right hand man. She is a joyful helper; I don’t know what I would do without her. She jumps at any chance to fill a need, mommying both Bea and Sib as well as attending to me at times too. I feel guilty letting her carry some of my burdens and I feel overwhelmed when I don’t.
I feel so vulnerable by myself with three, dependent, little ones. We are often at the mercy of strangers, reliant on their goodwill. An opened door, an extra day at the gym the day after our membership ran out, the retrieval of a dropped item. Nothing felt too small and these interactions were crucial to my survival.
Each week gets a little easier as we sink into a rhythm, but I still feel pretty martyr-ish by Thursday night. (N comes home on the weekends)
It’s also weird living in a house that doesn’t belong to you anymore, especially right now.
I have several friends who have made an effort to checkup on me, the neighbors who have watched over me, and one friend in particular who has gone out of her way to invite us over for dinner many times. This community I am completely dependent on and soon I will have to walk away from it completely to start over.
MG is gone now and it’s just me, Bea, and Sibs. I’m afraid Bea will curl up in a ball of boredom without her best playmate here. That’s only happened once or twice so far. She is learning how to play by herself now and has gotten quite good at it. I underestimated her. In many different ways.
Sib is starting to sleep much longer stretches at night. I don’t know what I would do if she was colicky or awoke through the night. Literally don’t know what I would do. God has orchestrated the timing of this and a few other little things for me and I have noticed it.
Now I am deliberately saying my goodbyes. Our final church service, lunch dates, playdates, and even drives. Goodbyes are hard. They’re awkward and weird and filled with a lot of promises that I’m not sure will be able to be kept. But they are necessary too. And they also represent many good things. God has taken me on a few scenic routes lately past some of the memorable parts of this town. I think He is helping me close the door. I know I can’t wait to bring the girls back here one day and take them on these drives along with my memory-laced narration.
I feel like I have spoken these words before but I don’t know another time when they would trump right now. This has been one of the most stressful and difficult seasons of our lives. There have been so many little things that have been hard compacted on top of the big things that are difficult anyway. N and I living apart, both with our hands tied up in so many things, trying to make a living and keep a life. So many foundational things are changing all at once. It has been hard to keep our relationship intact across the miles. But if absence makes the heart grow fonder then consider my heart’s beating the most devoted cry in the world.