for the past six or so months, there has been an abandoned fast food restaurant sitting empty, prone to occasional graffiti and window breaking as most empty, independently placed storefronts are. about a month ago, my husband reported to me that there was now a sign on the old establishment's sign that said a new mexican grille was going to take over the space.
i was excited for multiple reasons. mexican grille? yes please. but i also didn't like the way that abandoned building looked, and i didn't really understand why it had stood empty for so long. (you know, except for the crap economy.) it's one of the busiest streets in collegetown, so it made sense that some other fast food enterprise could make a go of it. or so you'd think.
i sort of assumed that they'd just take over the space. renovate, yes. repair, certainly. but basically, the place had been a restaurant. i figured once a restaurant always a restaurant.
imagine my surprise when i drove by one day a couple of weeks ago and found that workers had completely stripped the place, down to the brick basic structure. gone were the windows. gone was the inside. everything was gutted and stripped to its barest beams and rafters.
i was a bit puzzled. was that really necessary? i figured it must have been in much worse shape on the inside than i had originally thought.
wednesday was hard. wednesdays normally are, because i teach a church class and feel certain that satan conspires to make my days as difficult as possible so that i won't have the Spirit with me when i teach. so far, Heavenly Father has won out in the end but i have grown to dread what comes to me on wednesdays.
(it occurs to me also that baby girl was born on a wednesday so it seems like, punctual as she is/was, perhaps all of the growth spurt stuff that sends me reeling begins or is in full force on a wednesday. also, it's the middle of the week.)
nevertheless, wednesday was hard. baby girl has been fighting her naps, and she does so in the afternoons, when she's most tired and in most need of a good solid sleep. the only way to get her to sleep for more than 10 or 20 minutes at a time is to let her sleep on me. this makes me feel like a terrible mother, despite what i said earlier. i feel like it's a terrible habit to begin, but i also feel like she needs to sleep. if we had a swing that would work to put her out, i would use it. i know it's not just me that she'll sleep for--she sleeps on my husband as well, or even just on the couch next to us, but she just won't stay asleep.
(it's developmental. i've been commiserating with other moms going through EXACTLY the same thing.)
after a hard morning, i got an email that our family pictures were ready to be viewed. and they were just...not flattering of me. i felt, all of the sudden, so defeated.
and i cried. not the kind of sweet cry that happens nicely. the full-on ugly cry that comes from just feeling like nothing works out. my husband just held me, getting snot on his shirt in the process, and let me cry. i cried for a while and then thought for a while and he didn't say anything.
finally, i talked about how it wasn't fair, how i try so hard and there's never enough time or energy for me. i didn't mean that in a selfish way. i meant that in a "i can't find the energy sometimes to do a 20 minute workout that i so want to do" or a "i haven't been able to read any part of a book in weeks." when i write it here, it seems entirely selfish, but i guess i meant that my tank was feeling quite empty and i needed some time during the day--not much, mind you, but some--when i could know that i could do whatever i needed to do. if it was a day when i needed to read a chapter out of a book that had nothing to do with teaching writing or with growing babies, that's what i needed. but mainly, and my husband knew this, i wanted time to make myself into the person i want to be. i needed time to be healthy.
so we devised a plan whereby he would take bedtime from now on and we would take walks as a family as often as we could. for the next six weeks, that's the plan. it will change, probably, as our schedules change, but hopefully by then it will be a habit.
it's been two days. i already feel like a new person.
i can't tell you how raw and empty i felt before we talked, how stripped down to the bare bones i was. and i began thinking about that restaurant, and i wasn't sure why until i thought about why i felt the way that i felt.
i think i thought that because i was a woman and a wife before our girl came that i could just fit motherhood into that model and be the same person as i was before. i'd heard that motherhood changes you, but i didn't realize that such a change would require me being stripped and refashioned.
a woman is a woman is a woman, right? like a restaurant is a restaurant is a restaurant?
no. i'm coming to see that i have to be a new version of me.
so in these moments when i feel broken down by life, by trying to do it all and seeming to fail, after a little while, and a bit of perspective, i see it for what it is: renovation. change. i am being shaped and moved and chipped away to become something different, something better, something that fulfills the measure of my creation. so many things seem entirely different, and yet the pieces are often the same. maggie is certainly a huge new addition, but i spend my days often doing the same things that i used to do--working, cooking, exercising, praying, doing laundry, paying bills--but now the way i do them is entirely different because our lives are entirely different. and yet, they're not. the most important things are still the same, and the many of the parts are still the same: just reworked into a new blueprint.
it's not always an easy process, but that doesn't make it unwanted either. the best things in life are the hardest things, the things you have to work the hardest for. but sometimes, in those moments, it feels like the tough times mean you're failing.
i felt, on wednesday, like i was failing. i asked musicboy if i was. he said, in probably the most emphatic voice i've heard in a while, "no. you're not failing at ANYTHING. you only fail if you quit, and you're not quitting."
i am not quitting, not by a long shot. i'm not quitting at anything. in fact, it's probably the opposite--i feel more committed to more things that are important and essential than ever. i'm just still finding my way, one project at a time, one change at a time. i'm finding ways to incorporate everything i was into everything that i'm becoming.
it takes a skillful Architect to plan that sort of thing. i'm glad i'm letting the Eternal Architect handle it.
He can renovate my life any time. His projects are always successes.