Eighty degrees in March, and nothing is at rest.
The flowers are up, stretching their arms after nary a winter’s nap. The magnolia has exploded into blossom way before its time, dropping its once-precious petals onto the ground where they turn slipper and slimy like a million mini banana peels. After she sat down on our front steps, the petals left a smear of brown on my the puffy cloth-diapered bum of toddler daughter’s pale pink linen — in March! — pants.
Every day there is a new blossom or bird or piece of our house renovation next door to be the target of her chubby index finger and her catch-all “Whoa!” exclamation. If the warmth and too-early springing into green weren’t enough to rev us up, Daylight Savings Time’s extra hour has shifted our reality into a new gear, one that makes bed before 8 a near impossibility.
Leading up to last Saturday, when we lost that hour, I had managed to get little A to nap twice with help from the car on cooler days before the hammering began next door and then, by napping with her. After my doctor told me “I think you need three hours of rest a day,” I decided that I should just give up on productivity during at-home naps and rest my weary body instead.
That felt good, losing track of time and waking with a new lease on the day. The trick was to start early enough that I didn’t risk sleeping through my son’s afternoon bus pickup time. As long as it was cool, I found I could even get to sleep again in the evening. Finally, my cup was filling with rest. But it was not to last.
All that week, I tried to find slivers of time to fit in my homework for my Mother’s Self-Renewal class, reading and journaling. I’d already missed one of the classes, wallowing in self-pity at all the responsibilities pulling me in so many directions I felt I’d tear apart and lose my stuffing. This time would be different, I’d promised myself.
The plan was that my husband would take my son to gardening day at his school that Saturday morning. I’d have an hour or so of relative quiet in the house to make myself some grain-free “bread” and then nap with my daughter, say 11 to 1, have lunch and leave, fully rested, at 2:15 to enjoy listening to Studio 360 on NPR en route to Tenleytown for the 3:00 class. Also in the plan was for me to come home bursting with energy and joy, or maybe just be pleasantly calm that happiness and parenting and house renovation were not all mutually exclusive.
Then our fridge broke. Or at least got testy. We spent part of the morning moving important things into the new fridge in the shed, purchased on Black Friday for the home we’ll move into this summer. My husband searched around for a fridge that would fit our current smaller space. It ended up that I took the kids — both of them — to gardening day and he used my Sears card to schedule a Monday delivery for a new stainless number to chill our chow.
My son mostly just played with his friends while his sister, after an initial excursion across a muddy field, happily sat and dug at dirt while I weeded. It was a lovely spring morning, still chill enough to feel like the right season. But by the time I’d changed a diaper and nursed in the library, it was past lunchtime and I was tired.
So was the baby, but she was having none of nap. I thought she might fall asleep on the way home. No such luck. Then I tried laying her down, but she preferred instead to cry or crawl over me and push her chubby hand into my flabby belly or neck. I started to see my chances at “self-renewal” crumble.
Off I huffed to drive her to sleep. My husband didn’t stop me with any protestations about my not having the time to do that and go to my class, too. And I didn’t beg. My hopes were already dim.
By the time I pulled back into the driveway with a zonked-out toddler in the back seat, I was too hungry and too tired to drive 45 minutes for a class that I wasn’t very prepared for. I texted the teacher something terse about not being able to finish the session and came inside where my husband was holding the key to the other car so that I could ostensibly turn around and go to class. Points for trying, I guess.
But he doesn’t get that it’s just not that easy. Not for me. I had no snacks, there was no plan for dinner, and I hadn’t rested. I’d been out all morning and used up all my energy cards. This healing business means business.
So what did I do? I didn’t mope as long as I did the previous time I missed class. I resolved to make something out of the day; I took a few drops of Premier Research Labs vitamin B and set about to clean the house enough that it wouldn’t drive me crazy anymore.
The supplement and the sorting seemed to have a positive effect on me, but between the B and the late nap, the baby acted like I’d given her a triple espresso. Back when I was first trying to heal from adrenal fatigue in 2004, I did a couple of vitamin B IVs and National Integrated Health Associates. It’s quite a buzz, like liquid sunshine, warming and energizing you from the inside out. I’d venture to say that this is what my daughter was feeling from my souped-up milk.
At 8:14 p.m., when she should have been asleep, she was giddy and ready to party. The phone rang, and my friend Sarah was ready to talk with me about her journey through adrenal fatigue and the GAPS diet.
Little Miss Alert played with Daddy for a while as I took notes, and then I just nursed her through the rest of the conversation, which was a real turning point for me. To say I am grateful for Sarah sharing is like saying this winter has been on the mild side. Gross understatements. I know lots of people who’ve had lots of health issues, but where I am right now, hearing about Sarah’s journey and healing was nothing short of inspirational. She’s due to have her second child soon, and we talked about birth and recovery along with hard-core gut stuff. It was powerful to hear people on the GAPS diet talk about their experiences at the Weston A. Price Foundation conference and it’s educational to read the many wonderful posts on blogs like Cheeseslave, where author Ann Marie has answered my question about SIgA today. But still, just talking with someone who I’ve known go from sickness to health was so soothing and buoying.
By the time Jen Kogan, the teacher of the self-renewal class called to check up on me on Monday, I had made peace with the fact that this is just not the time for me to take it. The house renovation project needs my attention for the next three months, and my health has got to be the focus of whatever I have left (after, of course, taking care of my children and arranging for childcare and summer camp and whatever we need to keep us all sane and our hair intact). As much as I’ve been wanting to pursue career development, I have to accept that whatever writing I can get done for my own spirit has got to be enough for now.
The rest of week was a hot, sunny blur of contractor appointments and pollen. I felt like Vitamin B and Vitamin Sarah were still going strong well into Thursday night, when another friend at the Holistic Moms meeting told me she’d read my blog and that we had more in common than I’d known. “This is just the current season of our lives,” she reminded us both. When I got home, I was surprised by an email from a graduate school friend who has also gone grain-free after vegetarianism and is on her own journey to balance health and parenthood. To be thanked for my writing twice in one night was a gift.
It’s not lately been clear what literal season it is here, and I tend to want it to be everything all at once in my home life.
The season to mother well vs. to mother myself.
The time to embrace life as a stay-at-home mom vs. the time to publish, to volunteer, to network.
The time to just rest vs. to develop a serious yoga practice, or return to running.
The season to make all my food from scratch all the time and be strict enough to heal (necessary reality) vs. the season to be all done with that and ready to embrace and enjoy so many delicious things I haven’t had for so long, without fear of pain or illness.
I can’t tell winter to just chill out and be winter, and I can’t tell spring not to come. There is no use fighting whatever is. And even if I can’t figure out what today’s reality is going to be or predict tomorrow’s, I can choose to accept rather than fight.
The dirt doesn’t push back the flowers. Let the beauty reveal.
Stop and smell the hyacinths while they’re here. Whenever that is.