Today is the last day that my husband will be home on paternity leave. Tomorrow he starts back with six days straight of work and I will be left with the three children. The two eldest I cannot yet lift up and with baby girl’s nursing schedule, it will present some new challenges for me. Suddenly two weeks of having him here to help does not seem like it was enough. I have always felt confident that I could juggle three kids on my own if needed. Now, I am not sure and I am a little nervous. I tell myself that other women do it, they are just fine, so I need to just breathe and dive in. And then I think that three months of maternity leave is a long time. The past two maternity leaves I had I would only take six weeks off as I did not have the option of working part-time from home while I was out. But I took the three months this time to challenge myself. A breakneck pace that never ceases was wearing me out and I did not want to admit it to anyone. I did not want to admit that every morning I would have to pray for energy to get out of bed, to make myself get myself together, attempt at patience with the kids and often fail miserably, to get to work on time and push through the day. I was always shocked when I finally was able to take a breath it was already eight at night and then it was time to get the kids in bed and catch up on homework and try to say hello to my husband.
So three months seemed like a good idea, and I had already planned how I wanted to spend it, most of which centered around just being with my kids.
Yet here I am, two weeks in, and have not accomplished anything on the list, have not finished one book in the stack, started on one sewing project for Christmas, wrestled with the boys once or taken them to storytime at the library.
Most people would remind me that I just had a baby and these two weeks should be a time to heal and rest. And yet, this is the most restless I have felt.
I worry I will waste these three months doing nothing.
I worry I will secretly wish I was back at work because my kids exhaust me.
I worry that my kids will grow tired of me.
I worry that I will not be able to get motivated to do more.
My personality is riddled with worry; it is the strongest aspect of my melancholy dominant personality. But this is no excuse. Or at least, it shouldn’t be.
In the quiet of the early morning, when dawn is just breaking and baby girl is finally settled and sleeping again, I sip coffee and take time for my devotions. I read how Hannah gives her worry and sorrow to God in prayer. I flip through my Bible afterward and read in Lamentations that amidst his dirge of Jerusalem Jeremiah is still able to cry out, “Great is Your faithfulness.” I am reminded of a book I read last year that I cherish, reminding us to “give thanks” and to count our joys and gifts.
So I start thanking God.
I thank Him for my children and the opportunity to have this time with them when they are so young and time seems to fly at the speed of light. I thank Him that I am learning, in that beautiful unknown of motherhood, how to grow and test myself each day to be a better mother. I thank Him that no matter what happens in the day, I am able to laugh at least once with my children and hug and kiss them and tell them I love them. I thank Him that they say they love me back.
And as I hand over my worry and give way to thanks instead, I feel that peace I read about in my devotions this morning and thought was unattainable for me. And I think to myself, This is where I want to be, in the center of Your peace. Later, I will pause and write my gifts, counting to one thousand still, and will remember this peace, write it once more, and continue to hand over the worry.
Will the worry still come? Undoubtedly. Yet I will be reminded by His still small voice to hand it over, and I will be humbled at the reminder that He would rather carry the burden than allow me to weigh myself down with “what ifs.” I may be tempted to continue to carry a few of them on my own but His grace is sufficient and when I finally drop them at His feet once more and one more time promise not to pick them up again, His grace will still be there. And one more time He will trade my worry for peace in hopes that I will keep it this time, knowing I won’t but that is after all part of His grace and so I will just keep handing over the worry because sometimes the learning process takes a little bit longer than we like with our sin nature getting in the way and mine gets in the way frequently, daily.
But His grace is enough, and His peace is there, at the ready when I ask. So today I begin asking for peace and will close this computer in a few moments, embracing the day rather than worrying it right past me and missing out on the experiences that could be.