Monday, February 27, 2017


'This Too Shall Pass' by Bryan Mark Taylor

There has been a yawning spread of gracelessness in my postpartum "adjustment" of the last year.  A difficult (inexplicably difficult?) adjustment has coupled with a period of time where the whole world seems to be ripping off bandaids to expose festering wounds.  Everything seems harder than it should be.  I have spent an entire year driven to distraction by how uncomfortable I am in my own skin, and how few comforts there are that provide the least little bit of relief.

The one thing that helps, and the consistent answer I get to my multeity of morose prayers, is sleep. I have been dreaming again, and having dreams has been a near indulgence in my parenthood.  They aren't particularly pleasant dreams, but nor are they nightmares.  They are urgently purposive.  My dreams feel like intricate puzzles of problem solving finesse and I can always see what the end needs to be before they end.  I work toward that end, unencumbered by the barrage of minutia and interruptions that color my waking hours. Then my alarm goes off and peeling my eyes open is emotionally painful, because whatever I was accomplishing in that dream feels so much more urgent and productive than wrestling my kids out the door for school again.

I am tired on a profound level.  The tiredness leaks into a physical malaise, but it starts somewhere much deeper.  Attempting to manage contemporary morality is so exhausting.  There are so many calls to action, but fair and probing explorations of diverse points of view are non-existent.  Or at least they are anomalous.  Rather, enmity is everywhere.  Every voice in the world is full of it, and nobody can see it in themselves.  This ferocious tendency to turn so much of humanity and our neighbors into "others" is alarming and corrosive and savage. There are no places for civil debate or honest inquiries, the whole world feels like a snapping, rabid turtle.  Something we thought was tractable and quotidian has reared an uncanny ferocity and snatched from us our sanctuaries of inner peace.

Well, my inner peace anyway.  Most of my trustiest methods for self-care have fallen hollow in the past year.  Either they've turned on me somehow or seem so piddling in the face of all the hate and suffering of the world breathing down my neck. It is a painful time to be a slow-to-judge introvert. I treasure my capacity for critical thinking, but it is so much work to keep shoveling through supposed certainties with it.  The appeal of bullheaded certainty and the gross characterization of the "other" side that it requires are simultaneously repugnant and tempting, and the cognitive dissonance is so relentless.

I've retreated somewhat into history.  while it is far from static, it also contains less uncertainty than the present, and the stakes of exploring different angles on it are lower the more distantly removed the history is.  So I've spent the last month spending spare moments on the Tudors.  (I could rave for hours about The History of England podcast.  I devoured it, and new episodes are always the highlight of the day they go live. )  I'm also giving my heavy soul permission to nurse a long-ignored love of historic costuming.  There's a whole world out there of research and detail-oriented perfectionism that seems to coddle my most fragile temperaments.  Though I'm prone to bring messy questions through my hard-won peace and try to reconnoiter how women gestated and menstruated in some of the less forgiving pockets of fashion history.  (Dear Regency era, you were brutal this way.)

All of this is my brain struggling to function in the midst of a very pedestrian life.  I tried for a good spell last year to take on a part time work-from-home job and I was an epic failure.  (Failure is an added layer of discomfort).  I try to manage the capricious puppy, the crawling baby, the four other high-energy enigma children, the meals, the laundry, some measure of housekeeping (another profound failure), and church callings that require far more of me than I seem able to give (I'm teaching Gospel Doctrine (Sunday School) and Renn is the Young Men's President - two distinct shades of difficult).

My house seems to have a vendetta against me in the vein of poorly designed workflow, and I never overcame the third major stumbling block that came up in my attempts to start working-out after baby #5. (Because.... sleep.)

But, I laugh all the time, my children are so often delightful.  I've never written enough about baby #5 for his pseudonym to stick, but he is the apple of everybody's eye around here, and a hopeless flirt.

I think I'm like a great many other young mothers out there.  We're desperately trying balance our efforts and our identities between the things most immediately affected by our influence and the things most affecting us and our concerns for the future.  Our macro and micro realities, if you will.  We try to stand as a buffer, softening and interpreting the world for little children we'd like to keep little longer, and taking a double dose of the world's worst in turn.  (And history reminds me that the world has always had lots of worsts.)

And all I really conclude is: motherhood is not for wimps.

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