Like, this is too much. There's too much happening. I can't possibly do everything I need to do. I cant be everything I need to be. I can't cope with the bombardment of information and noise and ... stuff.
I get you. But before I start stripping back my own life, I thought it would be good to revisit the basic principle, of
Things aren't the way I want them to be in my house. There are a million jobs to be done. Upstairs usually looks like a bomb of stuff has gone off. The bedrooms need repainting. I keep tripping over things like the baby bath and piles of paperwork and toys. There's an inch-thick layer of dust on our bedroom windowsill and cobwebs on the ceiling. I can't remember the last time we actually made our bed in the mornings. We just kind of flop into it at the end of the day. I can never find things - like the nail clippers. Where the heck have they gone? Also I keep finding piles of random objects like coins and hair clips and play food in strange places (thanks, Jellybean).
The other night, it all got on top of me and I went to bed feeling defeated and exhausted.
I switch on my son's dream sheep (yes, that's a thing). A lullaby plays, along with the soft, muffled sound of a heartbeat. The baby feeds, eager from waiting a bit longer than he normally has to. The house has that quiet air of 'just before sleep' about it.
My daughter potters in holding a book entitled 'The Art of Hand Shadow Puppets.'
'Mum,' she says, 'Can I read you my exercise Bible?'
(Every book that contains information of some kind is, in Jellybean's mind, a Bible.)
(We'll get there.)
She clears her throat and makes a funny clicking noise with her tongue, as if she is about to impart Official Information. I think of what follows as her 'Hermione Granger' voice.
'Now, this book ...' (click) 'is about ... volcanoes. And Jesus.'
She takes me on a surreal and slightly disjointed journey through the properties of volcanoes.
The baby stops feeding, and pushes himself forward. I automatically stand him upright. (It's his favourite position. My arms hold him that way without thinking now. Is he going to become bow-legged? I hope not.) He looks around with such a wide-eyed look of happiness - and wakefulness - that I start laughing, and after a beat, he laughs as well.
I think, this is perfection. My messy room, my unmade bed, the piles of clothes on the floor waiting to be eBayed or donated, the dust settling on the surfaces. This is where perfection is. Our daughter with a smear of toothpaste on her cheek, wearing just her pyjama bottoms, book in hand. Our son in his babygrow, cackling with laughter, and Chris leaning against the wall looking at us, while I look back at him, and we communicate something without having to find words for it.
Sometimes the joy of it all takes us both by surprise.
Perfection in a messy bedroom in a terraced house on an ordinary street.
Bad times wait for all of us.
Bills will drop unexpectedly. Jobs might be lost. Our bodies start to break with time and circumstance and genetics. We hurt each other. We face grief in a multitude of ways. The world breaks around us. We continue the age-old struggle to relate to each other. We get tired. Life just ... piles up.
Everything in life tells us to protect ourselves. To hide ourselves in a bubble of possessions and insurance and image. To be distracted from injustice and the dark parts of the world. To stick our heads in the sand.
And yet, bad things come. We cannot stop them.
The only thing we can do is use our lives wisely. To determine not to allow this overwhelming life noise to determine our choices. To stop and count our blessings. And love abundantly, not just people that look and behave like we do.
Print from the amazing Amanda Lewis aka Sketchy Muma. Go look at her beautiful work and have a little weep at the loveliness of it all.
I'll be talking a bit more practically next time about finding little moments of calm in a busy day ... and encouraging calm moments for children. Join me if you fancy the challenge!