I think I can describe what I'm trying to process by saying I sense the dawning of redefinition in my life. I've been here before - crawling out of the cocoon that I seem to sink into while my babies are infants. The cocoon is a warm, cozy place where I dwell with my little bitties and my husband while we figure out what it means to us to be a family of 4. It's a place where everything is muted and a little surreal. Winter in MN, albeit a mild one, intensifies the effect. Frankly sometimes it feels more like a cave that I'm clawing out of, but I prefer to try to think of it as a cocoon, because changes happen in there, and something new is born when I emerge.
So much of parenting is about the kids, the KIDS KIDS KIDS. But the parents are part of this equation too, right? It's hard to carve out time for your marriage and yourself, although everything I've ever read says that you can't be a good parent if you don't. I really struggle with balance in my life regardless of the kids, tending to be the person who likes to give my all to everything and everyone. So it's even more difficult finding balance when a new little person is so entirely dependent on me - especially when I love providing all that little person needs! I love being a mama!
This time around I am not working outside the home steadily as I was with our first child so it makes balance even more challenging. I don't have the built-in distraction from home life that I had in working outside of the home 3 days a week. I also don't have the built-in "me time" to get my hair done over lunch, go shopping, get a coffee with a coworker, or be in charge of my own schedule for an entire 9 hours!! I am a slave to the twice-a-day nap schedule and the preschool drop-off/pick-up schedule and the eating/diapering schedule. I've given in to skipping make-up most days, showers some days, and focusing more on play dates than grown-up dates (because finding babysitters is hard work and expensive!) It's tough to find the energy to do something for myself or with my spouse after dinner is done, the kids are in bed, and we've both been on the go all day. Particularly when I'm not well rested in the first place and I know it all starts again in 10 hours. At that point, the hubby hits the video games for a bit and I play some word games on my phone while I watch a cooking show. Does this provide the balance I'm seeking? No. Have I figured out how to change it? No. Does it bug me? Yes.
Now before you go thinking that I'm ungrateful for this time at home with my kids, rest assured that I know what a blessing this time is with our kids, what a blessing it is to have a supportive husband and to have made financial decisions that allow us to live off of one income for now. In the big picture of life I KNOW it's a good thing, I love our kids more than words can express, and I'm thankful, but I still find myself struggling some days. I'm reminded of the song that says, "I've looked at life from both sides now." As with most things in life, the grass is just as green on the other side. It's excellent to be home with my kids, not racing out the door most mornings to get to a meeting, but it also means I struggle a little more to see Joy through the process of having a new baby in our life.
Back to the cocoon - while I'm in it and struggling to sort through all of the stuff I've written about above, my house takes a nose-dive. The "creep" starts to win because we're not constantly picking up after the preschooler, tackling the mail, staying ahead of the dog hair, making decisions that can wait until later, or taking the time to do things right the first time. As I said, there isn't a lot of sleep during these times and that complicates matters because the little things seem bigger. Also, the social schedule is light while I'm in the cocoon - it has to be in order to survive, but it leaves me feeling disconnected from the friends and family who are truly my sustenance and lifeline. At the same time, being in the cocoon changes my perspective on what was important before; which things, relationships, attitudes, and goals are worth my attention in light of the new little person into whom we're investing so much. The new perspective is the first hint of redefinition.
It feels good to start breaking free from the cocoon. It means I'm tackling the stagnant corners and drawers of my house that need attention, and it creates an intense urge to simplify. (Garage sale coming in April!) Redefining in this way brings me peace best described by a quote from The Diary of Anais Nin,
"When I cannot bear outer pressures anymore, I begin to put order in my belongings...As if unable to organize and control my life, I seek to exert this on the world of objects."
Yep, having a new baby certainly leaves me unable to control and organize my life, so this quote helps me explain the intense urge to go through our things!
I'm also planning to do away with our red wall and entryway after 8 years in favor of a beachy, pale, blue green from Farrow and Ball called Pale Powder. Our trip to Key West and a Costal Living magazine for the flight home inspired me. Of course this means sewing some new pillow covers, adding some new home accessories, and moving things around. Being home full-time means I am completely immersed in my house and fully aware of the impact it has on my mood, attitude, comfort and LIFE. Time for a change, time to redefine the space in which we dwell!
We finally ventured back to church last weekend. It's time to renew our relationship with Christ and the church, and some redefinition will certainly be part of that process.
I feel like our whole family is redefining the way we interact with each other; in the way we parent the older child, our habits, our communication patterns. Change is never easy, but it's a redefinition that's worthwhile. It's one that continues ALL THE TIME but feels highlighted now that we're hyper-aware of everything, having just emerged from months inside of the cocoon.
Although I feel like I've only written about the tip of the iceberg, this is where I must stop (and I think you get the picture anyway.) It's time to get back to doing the business of "a-day-in-the-life" instead of writing about it or thinking about it. Thanks for reading! If you feel like sharing, I'd love to hear about any redefinition going on in your life. Until next time...~J