Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Serenity or Dust Bunnies?

One week ago now, Jason and I had a bit of a scare. I had some bleeding last Tuesday night before bed, something that I had never experienced during a pregnancy. I immediately put a call into the on-call line for my doctor and then waited for the return call.

In the five minutes it took for the on-call doctor to call back, my weighted thoughts fell to the worst of places. The worst. What if we were going to lose this baby at 30 weeks into the pregnancy? My body shook uncontrollably with fear, my teeth chattering as though I had hypothermia. Jason was sure I had a fever even though I didn't.

The doctor called and said we needed to stay awake for a couple of hours to keep watch on what my body was doing. If the bleeding did not begin tapering off or if I had any contractions, we were to go to the hospital immediately. Well, after those two hours, the bleeding seemed to have stopped and we went to bed, although we hardly slept all night.

That Thursday, I went to the doctor and was very reassured to hear that everything looked normal. There was no explanation as to the cause of bleeding and I was again given the direction that I needed to rest.

A few days later, Jason and I had an argument, something that's been a little more common in our house than usual. Tis to be expected. With a tired, hormonal, uncomfortable wife and Jason having gone through an extensive, stressful interview process for several months now at work (which we still do not know the conclusion to), well, really what can you expect?

I was surprised during this most recent discussion to find out that Jason was a little resentful of my hesitation to rest and relax before last Tuesday. Jason had been pointing out for months that I needed to rest more. Why was the doctor's advice more valid? And why did we have to get scared for me to really begin to take this direction seriously? For my doctor had already told me I needed to rest more. So, why indeed?

After much persuasion from my dear, dear Jenny, I sent out a call for help to family and friends. And the response this past week has been amazing, overwhelming and inspiring. I have never felt so spoiled in all of my life. We have had a parade of dinners brought to our home and our boys have enjoyed some extra attention from visiting friends who have come to help. Today is my last day of officially ordered "rest" by my doctor, but because of such an abundance of willing friends and family, life won't really go back to normal for another week.

And let me assure everyone - including my mom, Jenny, all those who have helped us this past week, myself and my darling, loving, caring and concerned husband, there will be a new "normal" in our house, at least for now. Maybe forever.

I have observed something this past week that has blown me away. By just allowing myself to rest (or really forcing myself to), by lowering my own standards and expectations of myself, I have felt a sense of calm and peace that I do not think I've ever known as a mother. And guess what? The children have not been neglected or been glued to the television, the house is not a complete mess, the homeschooling has been happening and I have bathed on most days. I've read more - both to my children and for myself. I've written more. I've simply taken care of myself more and done less. And obviously this is a little easier when I don't have to make dinner and had so much wonderful help. But really, there's no reason that my life couldn't be more like this.

When did my perceived reality begin saying that taking time to take care of myself meant that I was being less productive? Why is vacuuming more important than reading or writing? Why is dusting more important than pampering my aching feet? Why is laundry more important than a walk? It's not! How ludicrous! Of course taking care of my body and my mind is more important than taking care of my house.

That's not to say I will become a hoarder or let the house become a sty. But maybe I should "pay myself first." Would I not then have more of myself to give? And to give joyfully?

And let's go further with this. This afternoon, I began compiling a list of Scripture readings to focus on for the next nine weeks and during labor. I was reminded how I do not read the Bible enough. Often, reading the Bible gets put on the bottom of my priority list; a luxury that can happen after all the important work for the day is complete. It is embarrassing to admit that, but it's true.

It is sad that we sometimes have to go through something difficult or scary in order to see the truth. If I had not been given the direction to rest this past week, I most likely would not have gotten to the Scripture reading that I've been meaning to do. But there wouldn't be so many dust bunnies in the house!

Well, I think (and hope) that I've learned my lesson. I am going to make part of my prescription of rest and relaxation a permanent part of my life. So be warned - you may see more dust and dirt in my home. Some unfolded piles of laundry. A little more clutter. But maybe the stack of books that I am reading will be around as well. An open laptop with new pages of my novel written on it. An open Bible. And with all of those things, I am certain you will also find a more collected, serene mother as well. Seems like a pretty good trade-off.

Psalm 121
I look up at the mountains--
Does my help come from there?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble,
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.

The Lord himself watches over you!
The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.
The sun will not harm you by day,
Nor the moon at night.

The Lord keeps you from all harm
And watches over your life.
The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.

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