The last weeks of my pregnancy were glorious.
Well, not the aching hips or the insomnia. Or the nothing-in-my-closet-fits situation, either. And to be honest, despite being excited for our family of three to grow to four, Mark and I weren’t getting along all that great this time last year.
But my productivity? My organization? GLORIOUS.
My to-do lists, always a staple of my trying-to-get-it-together life, were a thing of beauty. They had specific tasks with hard deadlines and step-by-step goals to make it all happen. Each day had its assignments and, somehow, I managed to complete them. When they were assigned. Before they were due.
It was amazing.
I bought extra groceries and paper goods to stock our pantry. I made meal plans and cooked meals to put in the freezer. I bought gifts and thank you notes and stamps and Christmas cards. I wrote guest posts and regular posts to increase my blog traffic. And if that wasn’t enough, I scheduled pins that were timely and relevant and certain to keep my platform growing while my newborn, well, did the same. I made plans and I created schedules, I wrote lists and I got things done.
I was on top of things.
I was together.
I was … nesting.
Since January 13, I have been less than together. Not so on top of things. No longer nesting. Since I had a baby nearly nine months ago, I’ve been a mess.
It’s not just the usual messiness of life I’ve been experiencing. Sure, my house gets frightfully messy at least twice a week, my laundry never gets folded or put away, and meal planning is a distant memory. But even more treacherous than the chaos of my home and my beloved to-do lists is the chaos inside.
I haven’t been able to focus.
I have forgotten everything, from kindergarten parties to hospital bills.
I’ve missed so many deadlines, dropped so many balls and let so many people down that the one thing I’ve wished for almost as much as more sleep is another way to say, “I’m sorry.”
Of course, in the midst of my life with a newborn there has been so much beauty, so many gifts. My baby girl is absolutely The Sweetest Baby To Ever Live (apologies to your babies, of course). And her big sister is seriously The Best Doting Big Sister in the History of Ever. And that husband of mine who I fought with so viciously in those last, otherwise glorious weeks of pregnancy? He’s my biggest gift of all.
On top of that I could list a thousand other blessings, from a flexible job and cool writing opportunities to friends and family and fall weather. So, please, don’t hear me complaining about this life of mine. It’s a good one. But it’s been full of chaos – and I don’t handle chaos well.
I’m not one to be called laidback, I don’t roll with the punches by instinct, and my nature is one that reacts to change and disorder by essentially putting my fingers in my hears and singing, “Lalala, I can’t hear you!”
The chaos of this year has worn me down.
But as the seasons have begun to change once again, bringing the calendar and the temperatures back around to my favorite season of fall, I’ve felt a shift inside. While my house is still messy and my to-do list is still ineffective, my heart feels less chaotic. I’m beginning to believe that I don’t have to simply react to each day, each moment; I’m remembering that I can plan ahead and be intentional and – gasp! – follow through.
My baby girl is still not sleeping through the night, and my big girl is still processing her adjustment to no longer being an only child. I’m still certain I’m not getting a full 24 hours in each day, and I can’t seem to kick my habit of a daily nap. Lots of things are up in the air today, undecided and unfinished. But, if you’ll excuse the cliche, I think I can see the light.
I know this stage of life is just that. It’s a season and, as sure as the leaves will turn and fall and be buried under snow, it will pass eventually. I feel steadier on my feet, a little less dizzy than I have since the beginning of this year – and I’m grasping onto that flicker of hope with both hands.
Someday soon I will make a plan and then follow it. I will write tasks on my list and then complete them. I will make promises and keep them; I’ll set deadlines and meet them. I’ll remember to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer before it mildews, and I’ll empty the dishwasher before the counters are full of all the dirty ones. I’ll look around at my house, my family, my life, myself – and feel peace.
“For God is not a God of disorder but peace…”
1 Corinthians 14:33
Until then, I’m trying to be patient with myself, with this season. Now that I can finally see it coming to an end, I can appreciate that everyone was right. Having a baby (or, perhaps for you, starting a new job or selling a house or moving across the country or joining a new church) is hard. It’s hard and it will seem like it’s going to last forever – but it won’t.
So I keep hanging on – to the hope of a new season, and to the beauty in the messiness of this one. I take a deep breath, turn away from the leaning tower of papers that need to be filed and smile at my girls giggling on the living room floor. Maybe there’s something to be said for the in-between after all.
How do you stay patient with yourself during difficult seasons?