And the evening and the morning were the first day.
I ran 200 fewer miles in 2010 than in 2009. I read 25 fewer books. I spent a lot of time doing things I don’t enjoy like moving, volunteering in classrooms, baking (mostly) unsuccessful allergen-free breads and goodies, hosting parties and play-dates, and cleaning. I gave up lifelong dreams. I walked away from opportunities I thought I wanted. I had another miscarriage, another D&C. I continued to be terrible at things like Visiting Teaching (or any activity in which I have to use the phone), making deadlines, and mailing packages. I spent more time alone.
In 2009, I took intensive German language lessons and attended the University and worked part-time. This year? Nothing. When people ask what I do during the day, I have no answer. I usually sideline their question by responding (with sass!) that I am a “lady of leisure.” We laugh. They then ask a question about my husband’s career and our conversation moves forward. But I’m stuck in that moment just after the question leaves their lips when I realize (all kidding aside) that the answer to their question isn’t an answer at all, but just another series of questions.
During the week, I get the kids to school, walking them to their classrooms more for PR than anything else. Face-to-face contact with teachers and administrators is important when your children are both the “new kid” and the “problem kid”. I grocery shop daily. I do pilates, I run. I shower, do my hair, apply makeup. Twice a week, I spend a few hours in the kids’ classrooms. I clean for a couple hours of the day. I cook for a couple more. I clean up the mess from cooking for another hour or so. I watch Hulu (a major advantage of moving back to the States) while folding laundry. I oversee chores and homework. I love my husband, holding his face in my hands when we kiss goodbye in the morning and hello in the evening.
I’m the last person to say that being a matriarch and mother is and should be all about sacrifice (as if every woman blessed with a husband and children is somehow not only a mother and wife but a martyr) because I don’t believe that. I think motherhood, like charity, service, and love gives more than it takes, fills more than it drains; God’s math never being equal, the giver is miraculously always the receiver. Zakes Mda, a South African writer, has said, “Our elders say that an elephant does not find its own trunk heavy.”
There are times when I see my own fleshy form as something that hangs on my soul, inhibits my progress, wiggles and shakes as I try to run it off. AND there are times when my kids hedge me in, make me feel like I live a sub-human and cave-like existence, slave to their maniacal desires (we don’t call our oldest son ‘Fidel’ for nothing). But they’re my kids, my spouse, my burden, my joy, my trunk and although I carry them everywhere I go (even when I’m alone), they’re mine and I’m grateful; so often uplifted more than pulled down and loved (always) more than I deserve.
As 2010 comes to a close, I’m sad to leave it behind. In a strange twist of fate, I achieved less but became more. I don’t know why I insist on keeping track of the numbers, I’ve never been good at math anyway.
And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
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