Right after I had R., I was home for seven months. Aside from walking R. to sleep and seeing the interior of all the shops on 4th Street over and over again, I was really at home. It was a sharp contrast to my pre-kid life working full-time and hanging out with Tom and friends when I wasn’t at work. My world shrunk exponentially. Shrinking world + sleep deprivation = isolated, struggling mama.
Things changed over time. I made some new friends, R. started sleeping through the night (and so did I–at least until another kid came around), and I gradually returned to being more social. But things had changed dramatically and it always seemed so easy to focus on my family at the expense of looking at the whole world.
People like Holly encouraged me to look outside myself. She asked if I would come work alongside her in Congo, interacting with adults with disabilities and orphans. I did, and the door creaked open again. Moving to Washington gave me the chance to start over, to figure out how I would spend my time. So I’m trying to live in line with my values–and I’m finding that being involved in others’ lives makes mine richer.
- I think I’m going to start volunteering with the middle schoolers at church
- R, N, and I are going to make bags for the homeless we see around town
- I’m on the board for Reeds of Hope, a non-profit helping kids in Congo
- I want to volunteer with Jubilee Reach, helping the underserved around here
- I went to an economic justice summit, which kicked my tail about how I’m spending my money.
It’s challenging to keep this outward focus, and while the above list looks great, often times it’s still all about how I stubbed my toe or how much vitamin D I have. Truth be told, I was just last night whining about being grouchy and not feeling happy with life. But that’s why I’m writing this: to put on (virtual) paper that I feel that God uses me more when I’m involved in others’ lives, that life seems far more worthwhile when I’m not focused on the mundane. A speaker I heard recently talked about the “weary consistency” of life as a young mom. That felt like an apt description. Sometimes days with little ones feels long, and the household tasks feel never-ending. But if I’m caring for others beyond my immediate family, either in a formal way or just by making the call to chat, to set up a brunch, or whatever brings us into contact, it enlivens life to such an extent that the day-to-day activities don’t feel like the be all, end all of my life. (Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. Being home with them is a joy. But I’m learning to admit that’s ok if I still want adult interaction.) And for that I shout a huge amen.