I’m slightly dramatic. Everything in my life is slightly dramatic. I process every event, moment and millisecond of my life as if the fate of all of humanity hinged on it. I’ve tried to make a case that this “flaw” is some sort of mix of a variety of mental illnesses sure to lead to a path of self-destruction. My mama tells me otherwise. With a shrug and an all-knowing grin, she gives me the sympathetic look she always gives me when my world is crashing and burning and says her infamous line “Honey, it’s just you.”
The boys started daycare this week. It’s an at-home facility with a precious woman who loves the Lord and takes excellent care of my little ones. But, that still doesn’t mean I’m okay with this whole situation. To be very honest with you, I had every single intention of quitting my job after the babies were born. It wasn’t something I expressed out loud to anyone, and I reassured my husband and my coworkers “I’ll be back!” every time my plans were questioned. Yet, deep down, I just knew God was going to work things out where I could stay at home, every day, with the two miracle babies I was carrying. Fast forward, and I’m driving down a Tennessee highway, babies in tow, dropping them off at daycare as I prepare to return to a job I never planned to continue and return to a life I had mentally kissed goodbye.
Breakdown isn’t even the word for what followed.
I cried. I sobbed. I dry-heaved. This is NOT what was supposed to be happening right now. In fact, my life in general is NOT what I planned for it to be.
If you would have asked me as a young girl about my future plans, married, living on a farm with twins and working in the same small town I grew up in is not even close to the dreams I had at the time. In fact, my dreams were pretty big. And pretty far away. I wanted to sing and star on Broadway. Music tormented me in a way that only the spotlight seemed to understand and I just knew, above all else, I had to be where the music was playing. Then I met Jonathan Harrison. And boy, did that put a wrench in things.
The dream of being on Broadway, obviously, never came true. And it isn’t the dream anymore. Honestly, I don’t know what the dream is now. And that’s where I found myself Monday. Maybe it was the emotions of dropping my babies off at daycare for the first time. Or maybe, the realization that none of this was ever supposed to be hit me and left me with a “what now?”
Unfortunately, I still don’t have an answer to that question. But I had to wonder if other moms felt the same way. So I called a friend, who mentioned to me in the course of our conversation, my emotions were a bi-product of not really knowing who or what I was supposed to be right now. I’m in the in-between. I’m still Bethany. But I’m not the same Bethany I was before children. And yet, I’m not who I want to be either. But, I don’t know who I am now and don’t know where to go next. Maybe you’ve been there, or maybe you haven’t but that’s the realist, simplest way that I can describe the feelings I have struggled with during this season.
The exhaustion of motherhood is a real thing. It’s a deep in your bones kind of tired. It’s emotions you never knew you had over a person who is literally your heart walking around outside of your body. You ache over missing the mundane things of life: showers, breakfast, sleep. At the same time, you ache when you are able to do those things because someone else is watching your baby. It’s all complicated. Every single minute of it is complicated. You are exhausted, yet you fight sleep to spend as much time rocking that baby because everyone tells you that it could be the last time. So you rock and rock and rock and begin to feel like the dead mother on “Psycho” but keep rocking because you don’t want to miss this time-this beautiful, tormenting complicated mess called motherhood.
And then, you feel guilty because somewhere deep down, you miss who you used to be. You miss a lack of responsibility. You miss having friends. You miss not having to worry that the decisions you made affected the lives of multiple people now, not just your own. You worry that the house you built is too much. And the lifestyle you’ve created isn’t maintainable. You worry if you lose it all, or worse give it all up that those that supposedly love you the most will abandon you after all in disappointment. There is no much to life now. And it’s incredibly heavy. Life now, as beautiful and complicated and emotional as it is, is so incredibly heavy. And people let me just tell you, I never planned on life being heavy.
I sure didn’t ask for it. I literally plan my life out based on security and I have felt anything BUT secure since October 31st of last year. That’s the day mono hit. The day that would forever change everything for me. The day everything started falling a part (again) and falling together. And now, I don’t know what to do next.
I started reading the book “The Road to Becoming” by Jenny Simmons last night. I feel like I wrote it to myself and it has captivated me. So much, during the ever-coveted time to sleep, I intentionally stayed awake last night reading vigorously through the chapters because it made me feel less alone. Motherhood is incredibly lonely at times. In the book, the author talks about having a season of burying. Grieving what never came to be or that which no longer was. Dreams. People. Relationships. To the outside it may look as though I am in a season of harvest, and I guess to an extent I am. But after the harvest comes the planting. And though internally I feel as though I am grieving and burying the plans I had so carefully mapped out, those closest to me see me planting. Planting the seeds for the new thing God is doing.
But as a farmer’s wife, I can tell you, planting is work. After the planting is the tending. And the waiting. And the pruning. And the waiting. Then the bearing. Then the harvest. Then the death. Then the planting. Farming, like all of life, revolves around seasons. And unfortunately, the reality is sometimes natural disasters occur. And kill your crop. Or flood your garden. Or even after staying awake all night nursing a small calf, it still dies at dawn. On your birthday. True story.
And if I sit and think about it, it makes me sad. It makes me anxious. As does all of life because let’s just be real, even medicated I am ALWAYS anxious. But it also gives me peace. Because after winter is always a spring and after spring, there is always the long, hot days of summer.
Right now, life feels like it’s wilting with the leaves outside. And everything seems hard. And complicated. And cold. And there’s this season of planting and waiting and tending ahead that’s just exhausting to think about. But there’s also a new thing forming. I don’t know what it is and my emotions are not validating that statement in the least. But the ultimate storyteller, and the original farmer tells me it’s so. And that’s what I’m choosing to cling to-that and an unhealthy amount of Dr. Pepper.
This is the longest blog post I’ve written in a while and it’s the most inspired I’ve felt to write in a hot minute. And I have the Waffle House to think for that. I know, I know. What in God’s name was I doing at the Waffle House on a random Thursday? I was having breakfast with my husband, an older gentleman, a truck driver, two businessmen, and an elderly couple. I’m not going to lie; it was a pretty haggard crew. The truck driver put a dollar in the jukebox and played Garth Brooks. The smell of bacon and coffee filled my nostrils and the waitresses were insistent I eat until I was full. No makeup on my face, and spit up on my sweatshirt I sat among the misfits of life and ate buttery waffles until my hearts content. I looked at the waitresses laughing and dancing and cooking away and smiled. They had a pretty sweet gig. What a fun life to wake up and serve the misfits of life hot coffee for their hangover and their soul. And then it hit me…maybe all of this is complicated. But maybe at the end of the day, it’s not really. So right there in that booth, I made my plan B. If it all goes to crap, I will move east and work at the Waffle House in the mountain air. I’ll serve the misfits coffee for their hangover and their soul and live life simply and contently. And if plan B doesn’t work out, I guess somehow, in someway I’ll be okay. I don’t really have anything past plan B right now. I guess that’s just part of being on the road to becoming. Not knowing the plan, but getting to know and trust the Planner.