1 exhausting pregnancy
1 active toddler
1 very busy husband
1 mama who is still trying to have a life outside of raising children
1 emotional infant
Temper Tantrums (as many as you can find)
Mix the pregnancy, husband, toddler and mama for 9 months and let it simmer on medium heat. Once sufficiently stressed, remove the pregnancy and add the infant and temper tantrums. Turn up the heat to high. Meltdown should be ready in about 3 months.
Needless to say, it's been a challenge adjusting to two kids. Judah is not nearly as laid back as Ayden, which means he doesn't "tag along" to meetings or errands very well. Meanwhile, my easy-going toddler is about to turn two. Yep, those terrible two's are raging in his sweet little life. We're talking epic meltdowns because I offer him milk instead of juice with his snack. Or begging to have his diaper changed (which he usually hates) just because his brother is getting a diaper change and we're using HIS changing table.
I've felt like I was at the end of my rope for quite some time now, but foolishly kept saying, "It will all be better when ______." Then I finished that sentence with things like, "Luke finishes this semester," or "Judah is napping on a schedule." At some point in the past few weeks I stopped believing myself. The end of the semester came and went and we were still stressed. The kids have been sick. No one in our family has been sleeping enough.
So I reached the end of the rope and was surprised to find how frayed it was. No one ever tells you that the end of the rope is so frayed, although I guess it makes sense. Bills haven't been paid, commitments at church have been neglected, family and friends have been ignored, our home hasn't been cleaned. We eat out more than we should, and too many of those times are at McDonald's. Luke and I don't talk enough and therefore argue about everything. I keep forgetting to give the boys baths or brush Ayden's teeth. My nightstand is so dusty that every time I climb into bed, I start the night with a coughing and/or sneezing fit. Ayden watches more TV than I can keep track of. EVERYTHING is spiralling out of control.
So I gave up a few days ago. I just stopped trying. I curled up on the couch and aimlessly surfed the internet while Luke was left to get the boys their dinner and put them to bed. The alternative was so much stress that I could barely speak. Maybe that's what a panic attack is--I don't know, but it was something bad and completely out of my control. We suffered through a day or two of that. At times I would help for awhile, but if there was too much immediate stress, I would just crumble again. How do you keep going when you don't have some glimmer of hope that things will be different soon?
But there IS hope. For one, the immediate circumstances WILL improve, even if it is not on the timeline that I first imagined. Judah will eventually sleep and Ayden will emerge from the terrible two's as the sweet little boy that is buried under all of this angst. Luke will be done with school. The weather will warm up and I'll be able to go for walks, or maybe even the occasional run.
But that's not what is really giving me hope. We were talking in our Bible Study last night about Hebrews 12. It talks about running the race with endurance and God disciplining us as children. From the discussion of this text, I was reminded that God's "discipline" is Him teaching us things that we will need later. Maybe God is letting everything pile up at once so we can learn to trust him. Maybe God has something amazing planned for our future that is going to be so much harder than this and we NEED this time to learn how to handle it. I don't know the future, and I certainly couldn't guess correctly at how this time in our life fits into God's overall plan. But the reality is that God does have a plan for our lives, and for some reason it includes this crazy period. Meanwhile, I'm spending too much time looking at the million responsibilities swirling around me and not enough time looking at Jesus.
So maybe I should spend more time paying attention to the songs that I sing to Ayden before bed:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His Glory and Grace