It’s been weeks since I’ve written any Horney blogs, and let me tell you why. I boarded the back-to-school train and that thing is BARRELLING down the tracks of my life, leaving precious time to even think straight, much less write for fun. The worst part is that I’m hanging off that train like a hobo without a plan, one foot on the rickety car and one foot searching for some solid ground- searching for a way to stop time.
In a normal semester on a normal schedule, I love school. I love spending hours in the library, catching up on homework. I love the tangible gratification of a grading system. I love my long walks alone on the greenbelt, making my way to campus.
But in this white washed Idaho winter, trudging down the Boise greenbelt beside a low, dark river, under gray skies and bare cottonwood trees, I am struggling.
My anxiety level is though the roof. Lately, I can’t even fall asleep at night. (This is terrible. I have, like, 4 hours to sleep at all, and I am wasting them laying awake and worrying about life. Might as well just push my sanity into a garbage disposal and flip the “on” switch, you know?)
I just thought going back to school would be easier than this. I can’t stand to be on campus. I can’t stand when my teachers go ONE MINUTE over time in class. I just want to get the heck out of there and get back to my baby girl. Back to my family. Back to my heart.
How can my blood keep pumping when my heart is in another zipcode?
I am full of a desperate sort of grief, an overwhelming guilt. I am abandoning my daughter. I am leaving her for hours at a time, and she doesn’t even understand time yet, or know that I’m ever coming back. She just knows that the person she loves most in the whole world is, quite suddenly, gone. And despite the fact that I leave her in the arms of her grandmother and her aunts, my footsteps out of their houses get heavier each day, my chest crushed under the knowledge that she will cry while I am gone. That she might not take her bottle. And because I depend on the kindness of my family and their willingness to watch my baby, I have to leave her with someone different almost every day of the week. And in my weird little mommy head full of weird little mommy lies, I am worried that Clara will form some sort of attachment disorder, that she will become a sociopath, that someday you will see me interviewed on evening cable news and I’ll be saying things like, “She always was a sullen child,” or “We just never saw this kind of violence coming, honestly.”
Here’s what people tell me to make me feel better:
“She just learning to be flexible.”
“She’ll eat when she’s hungry.”
“Crying never hurt a baby.”
“She’ll never remember this.”
“She’s just like this because she spends too much time with you.”
PS I DON’T BELIEVE ANY OF THAT.
So now, writhing in grief and guilt, I am SO TEMPTED to parent differently. I am tempted to parent in a way I swore I never would- parenting to keep my child happy.
Here’s my very flawed reasoning:
If she’s going to cry while I’m at school,
I certainly don’t want her crying when we are together.
In fact, I’ll just never LET her cry at our house.
I can’t handle it these days.
And I don’t want to do anything without her. Don’t invite me anywhere that she can’t come- I won’t leave her with ANOTHER sitter for MORE hours of the week. I can’t do it.
But you guys.
(I’m sure you already know this.)
I cannot parent out of guilt and fear.
These are not healthy emotions that produce healthy decisions.
These emotions create
My head knows to be thankful for a community of people so willing to invest in my family.
My heart whispers, “It should be her mama taking care of her.”
My head knows that finishing school is important, that I am setting a good example for my children.
My heart whispers, “A degree can never replace these precious times with your daughter.”
My head knows that God will protect my daughter from the emotional damage I am so fearful of.
My heart whispers, “You are her mother. She needs you most. You are abandoning her- and for what?”
I know that I’m supposed to be at school. Sam and I both feel peace about that decision, led to finish what we’ve started.
Then why is this so damn HARD?
Or, better yet…why did I think it would be easy?
My friend Jamie came over last week to have a glass of wine with me (since I refuse to leave my house or my child, she came to me- gosh I love her), and she sat at my kitchen table listening to me moan and groan and fret about school, Clara, Sam, life, and the self-spinning tornado I refuse to step out of. She listened and encouraged me, and then later she sent me a devotional (by Laura A. Barter Snow) that she thought would help. Here’s a line from it:
“I want you to learn when temptations attack you, and the enemy comes in “like a pent-up flood” (Isa 59:19), that “this is my doing” and that your weakness needs My strength, and your safety lies in letting Me fight for you.
Are you in difficult circumstances, surrounded by people who do not understand you, never ask your opinion, and always push you aside? “This is my doing.” I am the God of circumstances. You did not come to this place by accident—you are exactly where I meant for you to be.”
JESSIE! OF COURSE this is difficult! Who ever said that balancing life and family and dreams is easy, for pete’s sake? Where did I ever get that notion? The TRUTH is that God will fight my fights for me when I let Him. I am meant to be right where I am, and my heavenly Father is right here with me. He knows my dreams and He loves them and for the sake of all that is good and holy- HE LOVES ME.
So. I’ve decided to spend my time at school concentrating on my work rather than wondering what Smooch is doing right that moment. And I’ll spend my time with Clara and Sam reading stories, eating breakfast in bed, and trading sloppy kisses rather than worrying about the possibility of raising a tiny (albeit adorable) sociopath.
After all, if she turns out crazy, I can just blame my sisters, right?