Thursday, February 28, 2013

I'm okay, just busy...

Last night as I crept late into the quiet house, I heard a little voice call from upstairs, "Mommy, come see me."  When I went to check on my babies, they were both awake and wanting to talk.  As I stroked their hair, they told me about their days, and Brady asked, "Why do you always come home at night after we're in bed?"  My heart cracked.  This morning, Maryn clung to me as I was leaving for work, crying, "I want you to STAY!" (even though she was getting ready to leave for school).  My heart broke.

I realize that this is not a regular thing, but likely due to the three days I was out of town last week, and the later evenings I've had this week.  I try to be home for dinner (well, John and the kids have usually eaten, but they'll join me to talk while I'm eating).  I usually help get everyone going in the morning (even as I'm prone to stay in bed until the last possible moment).  But when I'm at home, I'm still getting emails from work, and reminders about events that others would really like me to attend.  There are things that I would like to be present for that I can sometimes manage, with John's help.  In my limited time at home, John and I are comparing calendars and planning our individual times away, and figuring out who will cover for whom.  It's becoming harder to figure out when I will be able to take time to do the basic things (doctor appointments, buying toothpaste, exercising) not to mention other necessary tasks (updating the kids spring wardrobes, planning birthday parties, planning vacation breaks).  Some looming projects that I'm about to surrender are applying to a doctoral program (seriously, I don't have time now), applying for grants for the chapel (never mind that I'm down to $500 for the rest of the year), and watching the rest of Season 3 of Downton Abbey (I don't think my heart can take it).

I know how incredibly blessed I am, and I'm right where I want to be.  And yet, that doesn't make it easy.  I'm always pulled in another direction, when I know deep down that the way to a fulfilled life is living in the present, right where I am.

I often bemoan the fact that I live in and work in such a busy culture.  At my university, many faculty and staff live on campus and work long and irregular hours.  I'm lucky to have a boss that admits to working too much, but who also encourages me to take time away.  But then the club I advise meets one evening, and has an event on the weekend, and then there's a conflict to work through, and an crisis counseling session, and a meeting with the board...and meanwhile the emails and paperwork are piling up, and there's a service to plan, and an unexpected death, and the budget is due...when will it all get done?  There is church, and volunteer work, and house chores, and I can't tell you the last time I got together with friends just for fun.

It's not like I can switch roles and personas.  During a meeting with board of trustees members, my son's teacher calls about a behavioral issue.  My first thought is, "Is it because I haven't been at home as much?" knowing full well that things are managed incredibly well in my absence.  But the mommy guilt is always pervasive.  Meanwhile the work guilt convinces me that I'll never succeed and never advance, that I will become stuck and stale with nothing new to offer.  And it's a self-fulfilling prophesy because I'm so very tired, and I just want to crawl into bed and read a book (there are 5 on my nightstand that I haven't touched).

I know that this is a passing phase and I'm feeling a lot of the tension that our students are dealing with in the compressed spring semester that leaps forward to the unknowns of graduation.  I understand that the winter has gone on a little too long and the grayness needs to be supplanted by new life budding all around.  I know that the long darkness of Lent will end in the light and joy of Easter.  All this I know, but feeling it is something different.

I guess that's why faith is so important.  It gives us something to hold onto as we're journeying through a barren wilderness, the hope that we will find the Promised Land on the other side.  I pray that as we all journey together, we might see the vision of God in a cloud and a pillar of fire above and ahead of us, leading us ever forward, and that we celebrate our deliverance even now, while we still carry our chains that bind us.  May we be able, with God's grace, to let go and get a taste of the milk and honey that await us.

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