>> Sunday, November 25, 2012
It's gotten harder for me to write about it all, harder to sit down and capture what I'm feeling. I am so full of emotion and experience, but I have slid into a place of wanting to protect it all, to hold it dear. Hovering like a cloud is the sense that in sharing, some of what I treasure will leak out and run down the storm drain. It will be under-valued or misunderstood and I can't have that, so I keep it to myself.
I walked along Lake Michigan on the beach this weekend, from the park by my parents' house up to the mouth of the Pigeon River. The lake hasn't been this low in years - decades, maybe. We could never walk to the mouth without our feet getting wet. But there's quite a stretch of beach now, and it felt right to make the hike.
When I saw the stand of pines on the bluff, I knew I was close. The rest of the shoreline is scrubby vegetation along the slope. Rocky and weedy. There are more homes than there used to be, but thank God someone left the pines. I remember as a kid it was all forest up on that bluff. We'd bike back as far as we could and then leave our wheels and scurry down the slope to where the river meets the lake. I can't even remember who I was with on these adventures- it's a blend of faces or the sensation of youthful energy that comes rushing back. And when I made it to the mouth via the beach this weekend, I felt it. The memories, yes; but what hits me when I'm there is the Whole of Growing Up. The confluence of my experiences and my sisters' and my friends'. Of my dad's, who also grew up on those beaches. There's a sense that brings equal parts bitter and sweet as I feel I am seeing Home through a different lens than that myopic one that I had as a child. It felt so big to go back.
I get so down on Sunday nights. It starts creeping up earlier in the day and I ignore it, but it surfaces each week. I need to let go of the stress that creeps up as work enters my mind and hang on instead to the weekend I had. This one was a good one. Thanksgiving, extra days and lots of time with family. These boys of mine fill me up, although they drain me, too. I find myself checking boxes on a mental list I hadn't realized I'd made. One-on-one time for each. Reading. Coloring and puzzles. Games together. Time outside. Healthy meals. Light on the video games and cartoons. Minimal fighting. Minimal yelling. Check. Check. Check. Laundry done, dishwasher run, emptied, and reloaded. Get the chickens some time to free-range it, pick up the dog shit in the yard, make sure the husband gets his recharge time. Check. Check. Check.
So why do I feel so worn down? So tired? So inadequate?
I want to live up to my own standards, and they are high. I am my own worst critic, I know this.
I miss them when I'm at work. I worry I don't spend enough time with them, yet I know I'm 100% present when I'm with them. That I give and nurture and love them fiercely. I miss out on some things, but I know they save so much for me. The stories at dinner time and when we're snuggled up at bedtime. I prioritize them, along with that which I need to keep myself mentally and physically healthy.
I guess I feel like I can't keep this up forever. I'm pushing and working so hard to be so intentional in every aspect of my parenting - and I'm probably overcompensating for working full-time out of the house - but I need that bonding time as much as they do. I'm just waiting for that break, and I'm realizing it isn't really going to come.
No neat or poignant wrap-up here; just writing what's on my mind because this place seemed to be calling to me again. Maybe the sharing isn't so much a leak as it is a flow, a confluence of my story with yours. Where the personal meets the universal. This is parenting. This is life. It is a rich, beautiful, blessed life for which I am incredibly grateful, but it is hard. And I am tired.