So while I was driving today, I was thinking about layers.
It was a doozy of a morning around here. My girls have decided to formally boycott getting up and getting dressed for school. Every morning I wake them up a little before 7:30 a.m. At 8 a.m. every morning (after a few prods and pushes), I let them know that they are running out of time. At 8:20 every morning I start to panic and drill sergeant Mama shows up. I yell and veins bulge and somehow… things start to move, but slowly… at 8:40 every morning the panic mode goes into hyper-drive because we are now on the cusp of officially being late. At 8:51 every morning I look at the clock on the van and wonder how in the heck 11 full minutes have passed since the last time I looked at it because it shouldn’t take that long for two girls to finish up the last minute tasks of putting coats on and getting strapped in, and I hastily drive Carolyn to the student drop off spot because she doesn’t have time to walk to the playground from the school entrance connected to base housing. At 8:51:30, I berate the children for us doing this Every. Single. Day. At 8:52 I feel profoundly guilty especially at the gnawing feeling in my stomach which suggests that I have just set my daughters up to have the worst days of their lives at school by being Drill Sergeant Mama for a full 32 minutes and I soften my tone and remind them that I love them and that we’re going to be ok and we all can have a good day and that I’m sorry that sometimes I use a mean voice. At 8:53, Carolyn arrives on the cusp of lateness which Carolyn tells me means that the bell hasn’t rung yet but all the kids are already on the rug. At 9:03 Abigail and I arrive at her preschool, late for that one too, I hug her, I kiss her, and I marvel at all the together mothers who make my puddling mess of frazzled look so darned bad each and every morning and I try not to cry on my steering wheel again.
So yes. I had that kind of morning this morning.
And then immediately after that morning, I hastily drove to the parking lot of my church where the pastor of our new church was waiting to meet with me because I had gotten to that point where letting things rattle around and bounce off of my insides over and over and over again ricocheting here and there around my head was simply too much to do. And here… before THAT meeting of vulnerable goo I had had a morning that nearly broke me in two.
I talked in this meeting and I poured out the grief that I still feel in such intensity over the loss of our friends and our family and our involvement as a result of the loss of our church. I poured out the stress and the weariness and fatigue I am feeling in the midst of this deployment and the anxiety and unease and overwhelmedness I still feel when I am processing this year post-tumor and the ways that medical surveillance will always be a part of my life, and the added anxiety and unease and overwhelmedness I’ve been feeling as a result of this “bonus” MRI and the somewhat unclear findings of it and the…. Waiting, waiting, waiting… (We’re going on a fully 2 and a half weeks now) for my doctor to read the report and make a recommendation about an action plan.
As I was driving today I was thinking about layers… I was thinking about the layers that I live and struggle in: The… Tired Mommy trying to get her kids off to school, trying to make sure I’m not too hard/too soft, trying to balance the attention that they need and the downtime I crave, trying to be a good Mom and the Failure feelings that creep in on all of us who are part of this profession of Mommyhood.
And I was thinking about the layer of being a woman whose husband is on deployment. The tiredness of that, the sheer attrition of it… The stress and the anxiety and the deep in the bones ache of longing for my love.
And the layer of medical anxiety past and present.
And the layer of loss of church and very, very real grief that doesn’t make sense to anyone, but is really, really real and must be felt and worked through.
There are these layers that I exist in and struggle in, in various degrees and at different times every. single. day.
I’m sure you have them too… The every day life struggles and the normal struggles of relationships and the struggles of your deepest heartaches and fears and anxieties.
We balance them and juggle them and navigate them all every single day.
My layers were validated today and I needed that. It was good. It was necessary. I was grateful.
But as I thought about my layers, I didn’t feel sorry for myself. Instead I felt grateful.
In all of those layers… those layers that when spoken back to me and laid out for me to see by someone else… With that outside perspective I can see their potential to be soul-crushing and I can understand why I was full to the brim of coping on my own and needed to find a safe place to lean it all on today.
But in all of those layers, I am still somehow sustained. I am borne up under them. It’s not perfect and it’s not clean and it’s not always pretty. Often it is messy, frayed, shocking.
But I am borne up. I am shored up. And I am held as they pelt and lash like the winds and rains that whipped up around us during that drive of frazzlement that got the kids settled at school today.
In those layers I see my weakness. I see my strength. I see His light shining through the cracked-pot, crack-pot chinks in my armor.
And deep within me, somehow, I have to catch my breath for the beauty.