Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Single Mom Journal: They Made the Beds

Yesterday I walked in my home and smelled the lemon burst of my Swiffer cleaning wipes. I walked around my home (a place I typically dread coming home to because it stresses me out) with an overwhelming sense of peace. I noticed little things: my computer in a different location, the small used rags gone off the counter top, the toys picked up and put in the bin on our main floor. Then, I walked upstairs. The laundry I had put out for folding was folded so beautifully and neatly. 

But as I rounded the corner, I saw that my boys beds had been beautifully made in a clean, crisp room. That is when I fell to my knees and cried. I cried loudly. It was the kind of crying that is beautiful and deep. My reaction was unanticipated. I knew I would be grateful, yes.....but not like this. The sound came from my stomach and filled the room with moaning that could have been mistaken for pain - and it was somewhat. 

While another person may have stifled their cries, I did not hold back. I let it out. It was freeing, as if I had been holding my emotion captive. It was messy. It was raw. It was real. I was letting go of a pain that only I (and Jesus) could understand

Being a single mom is hard. I don't say this for sympathy, I am saying it because it is true. I knew it would be hard, but I didn't know how it would be hard. I feel like I am constantly battling time. I work 3 jobs and get to spend 3 waking hours, sometimes 4 (if I let the littles stay up) with my kids. And when I am with them, I am making dinner, giving baths, and I often feel like I have very little time to connect. They feel it. I feel it. Then I find when I do have more time with them, I don't know what to do.

It has been very difficult for me to shove aside the guilt that comes from my decisions. All. The. Time. But I do my best to shove this away, give it to God, process my role(s)... all the things. And so, I am spinning a lot of plates (taken from an analogy that Elder Bednar gave once). 

I constantly prioritize and re-prioritize. Some days there are certain things/activities/motivations that lead out and sometimes there are others. It doesn't look the same day-to-day.

I have gracious and well intended people tell me that I can leave dishes in the sink, or not clean my house, or put off those things that aren't priorities. And while I know they mean well....I hate going home when I follow that advice. 

You see, all those things that I would put off still pile and pile and pile on top of each other. And while it may have meant that I spent more connected time with my kids instead of cleaning my house, I get cranky, because now I have to spend an entire Saturday and Sunday cleaning. Then I think - little bits at a time, right? But those little bits don't happen in a lively household either. Overall, my littles don't have my full attention because my list in my head would grow and grow - of all the things I had to do. Putting it off has the opposite effect for me.

I was thinking about posting on social media about needing help cleaning my house. But I found every reason not to. 

  • It is COVID - who wants to expose themselves to our germs? 
  • It isn't right to ask so much of someone - I should pay them, but I just quit job 2 and job 3 so I wouldn't have that stress, how will I pay them? How much should I pay them? 
  • Should this be service? No, it is too much for it to be service.
  • I am tired of being the person that everyone else is serving all the time....when can I pitch in to serve them?
  • Who do I trust in this very intimate and safe place I have tried to create for my little family? 
  • I can do it...I just need to schedule the time instead of binging Netflix after my kids go down after 10 p.m. every night even though my job 2 and 3 are supposed to happen during those hours.
  • I can clean when their dad has them, instead of doing the self-care that I really don't need, right?

The battle is hard and real, so much so that I end up feeling defeated in my thoughts, and never follow through with it. I never really pray about it either. I don't feel like I should. It is just so silly - not being able to manage a home....that isn't very self-reliant. 

I thought about "The Secret" and thought I would tell some people about how I was feeling, just to open it up to the Universe. And while well-intentioned, I stumbled on advice giving, but found that what I need is someone in my life to take action because I often can't muster it. The battle with myself leaves me so wounded, without a lot to keep me going. In some silly way, I felt the responses were the universe's way of telling me I was asking too much - so I stopped asking.

But then, I mentioned something last week to a good friend. This friend had the drive and initiative to figure out all the details for me, and arranged to have the service missionaries come twice a week to help me. All I had to do was leave minimal instruction.

The note I found on my counter went something like: Thank you for letting us come to clean your beautiful home. We hope you have what you need to relax and be with your family. We will back on Friday.

I am still tearing up thinking about how having this relief has meant the world to me. I am so grateful. I know I have a lot to work on with self-compassion, but while I am battling that, it has been so amazing to me to see all the people in my corner.

People are amazing and God is SO SO SO good.