I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but the last few months I’ve embarked on what I will now refer to as, “The Thinking Sabbatical”. I like to entitle it this way, and not the other way around such as, “The Sabbatical from Thinking” in order to make myself feel better, even though the latter title is much more true to form. My brain has been on vacation. Except not the kind of vacation with tropical drinks with little pink umbrellas and panhandlers on crowded beaches. The kind of vacation one can only pursue when one’s brain is deprived of sleep, and any other activity that may lead one out of the house. My life has revolved around trying to rest when my kid is resting, trying to make sure my living room isn’t covered in a pile of laundry in case someone decides to drop by, trying not to order pizza every other night and trying desperately to be a good Mother when I often feel like a mediocre babysitter- you know, the one who sits on the couch and watches Days of our Lives while your kid plays by himself on the floor.
You see, the baby stage is cute and cuddly and all those things that everyone says- and it is also maddening, all-consuming, time-sucking, identity-confusing, and down right exhausting. I had no other alternative but to give my brain a free pass to shut down for a while. No pondering theology. No literary criticism. No complicated, ethnic recipes. No waxing philosophical. No reading. No reading. You read that correctly. I haven’t read anything of value-or anything I’d admit to in a public forum- for months. I’ve been walking around in a foggy-Mommy brained stupor.
What I hadn’t realized, is that giving my brain a sabbatical from thinking has almost been just as exhausting- in a different way. I already felt a little out of place in this new life of putting sweet potatoes in the blender and clipping coupons for diaper genie refills, getting rid of all of the other things in my life before the baby just made it that more difficult, made me feel less like myself, and was stifling even in my sleep-deprived state.
So, though I’ve had to hold my eyelids open with my fingers this week, I started reading again. Well, re-reading. A little light classic, “Anne of Green Gables”. And I remembered the literary crush I had on Gilbert. And how I longed for Diana’s hair. And empathized with Anne’s wild imagination. And it made me happy to think of reading it with Ellie.
And I began reading a book my mother-in-law gave me called “A Praying Life” by Paul E. Miller. And I thought about how in terms of our faith, we are supposed to be as little children. And little children, as my own has taught me, are terribly direct. When they’re happy, they say so. When they’re thankful, they mean it. When they want a toy from the Toys R Us Christmas catalogue, they ask for it. Repeatedly. Until they get it. Or drive you crazy. When they’re angry, you know about it. They don’t hold anything back. They don’t think about how they should go about asking their parents for things. They just do it. Because they know their parents love them and they believe they have super parent powers. I’d like to be like that. But my prayer life has been kinda crappy lately and basically comprised of , “Please let her sleep longer than 2 hours.” “Please let me get something done today.” “Please let us be able to pay our mortgage this month.” So, I nixed all of the shabby prayers this week and replaced it with just one line.
“You are bigger”.
It sounds silly, but it’s been incredibly helpful when I feel overwhelmed with worry and a little lost in myself. It feels much more sincere and direct than anything I’ve prayed lately. There must be something to that.
I even cooked last night. A real meal. On real dishes. And we sat in the dining room like a real family.
And last night, when my kid didn’t last longer than four hours (better than two!) in her bed last night, instead of crying tears of frustration, angrily glaring at the clock, Rich and I both waiting for the other to offer to get up, we just giggled as we listened to our silly girl blow raspberries over the monitor and I thought about all the stories and songs that could be inspired by such a little being that needs me to be the woman I was before she was born as well as the Mother I’m learning to be.
Seems as though my thinking sabbatical is over. I’m glad to see it go.