Life on Cottage Hill: PAGES

Monday, February 6, 2012

::set me free::

Tonight went something like this: 

Dan came home from work to find nap-less Jackson and I playing while holding a nap-fighting Audrey. It was all good, but two napless kids can make for a longish day. Then, while Dan catches up with the babies, I am at the computer pumping (thank you, Pinterest and blogs for making these little necessary sessions that much more bearable)... anyway, Dan asks what I am reading and I tell him it's an article about how one woman's best piece of parenting advice was that she should date herself on a regular basis. You know, get out of the house alone. ALONE! I tell him that I am going to start doing that to which he replies that maybe he should too. He expects me to tell him that's not a good idea, but I tell him the opposite- that he should get out alone, I encourage it. And I say it because I mean it. 

So, thirty minutes, at least 3 cheerios-all-over-the-place-spills and a not-going-to-give-in-to-a-nap rocking session with Audrey later, Dan says something like, "do you want to get away for a little bit?" YES, yes I do. How long do I have? He suggests 15 minutes. Riiight, how about a couple of hours? He seems fine with the idea and in less than three minutes I am dressed and ready to walk out the door. After promising a very confused Jackson with a treat upon my return from my "meeting" I was out-of-there, with no idea where I was going. 

It wasn't as easy as picking any old place to go. I needed a strategy. I only had a couple of hours and since we live in the middle of nowhere I needed a place close enough to not suck all of my free time in driving mode, but that didn't leave a lot of choices. I would have loved to go to a bookstore and bury myself in a book in a quiet corner with a latte, but that was out of the question since the nearest bookstore was too many miles away to leave time for an actual burying on oneself. 

So, backup plan it was: to go to Kroger (I know, am I not there every other day?). But, this grocery store sells books and happens to have a Starbucks. So, I went in, grabbed the first book that looked good, ordered a grande skinny vanilla latte and found the nearest table for my first ever date with myself. My first bit of true alone time in months. 

Everything was going according to plan: out of the house without child or husband, but then I start to realize that the book I'm reading- while great- is also pretty depressing. And, next thing I know, I feel like I'm being sucked into this horribly sad reality... the white noise around me seems to be getting louder and I find myself pulled into these little stories of the people around me: the conversation I overhear from the lady next to me who is on the brink of tears (something to do with not having enough money, not knowing what to do, not having any help...), the family a few tables away who is having dinner together, but the mom and son are totally in their own world  playing on their phones while the dad stares blankly into space, the family who walks by and the mom looks so lonely and sad that I could almost cry just getting a glimpse of her face. What is going on?

My "I'm on a me-date and it's awesome" high is taking a sudden dip, nearing a crash. 

I blame this all on the book I'm reading. And also on the lack of sleep. Any maybe on my over-active mind and all to consuming heart that seems to feel way too much in the hope that I can lessen the burden for someone else if I can find a way to feel for them. 

And then the clencher- a lady walks by with her toddler in the cart who is throwing a total meltdown tantrum. And suddenly I miss my kids. I've only been away for an hour, but I miss them so much it hurts.

I know I needed this time away. So. Much. And I know that by taking time for myself I will actually be a better mom, but I still missed them. I missed them because all of a sudden feel like I didn't appreciate them enough today, and yesterday. That while we have spent every moment together doing quality stuff, maybe I took their chubby little fingers and their big blue eyes for granted just a little. Or maybe I became too impatient too quickly when they threw my schedule off- again. Or when they made yet another mess.

So, I slap myself in the face (figuratively, not literally) and tell myself to suck up the overly-dramatic soap opera in my head and enjoy my last minutes of freedom. So, I throw the too-sad-for-tonight book in my bag and decide that picking up some diapers and ordering cupcakes for Jackson's birthday party this weekend allows me to be alone and yet sort of be with my kids by doing things for my kids at the same time. So, that's how I spent my last minutes of freedom. 

And, yet, for some reason, I couldn't' shake those feelings of sadness off completely. I did a quick lap around the store to see if any impulsive purchase could lift my mood. Normally, this would be easy to pull off with a new lipstick or cleaning product (if you just rolled your eyes at me I forgive you because even I rolled my eyes at me for that one... but sadly it's true)... anyway, back to my point: something was bothering me and yet the only explanation I had was LIFE. Life was bothering me. 

It was suddenly bothering me that the world is not perfect. That not everyone has the perfect life. That life isn't fair. That there are people starving, dying, depressingly unhappy... you name it. It was bothering me. It's like a hurricane of the world's hurt was suddenly on my shoulders. And for some reason my pretty little umbrella that I normally carry to bounce these feelings away so that I can live in my bubble of a world where everything is pretty and happy wouldn't open and I was being flooded with emotions. 

Realizing that no purchase was going to remedy it, I checked out and walked to my car, ready for the drive home back to my babies. And when my car turned on these are the first lyrics that came out of the radio: when the world has broken me down, your love sets me free. One of the playlists that I hadn't listened to in months was suddenly playing the most perfect song... 

when I call out your name, something inside awakes in my soul, how quickly I forget I'm yours. I'm not on my own, I've been carried by You all my life. when the world has broken me down, your love sets me free.  And when my life is like a storm, rising waters all I want is the shore. You say I'll be ok, make it through the rain, you are my shelter from the storm. 

These things, these little "coincidences" happen way too often to be even close to that. Once again, I was stopped in my tracks as God sent me yet another message to remind me of what I already knew: that He is with me, He is with all of us and when life has us down (even when we're not sure why), His love is there to set us free. Free to love, to live, to laugh... to live life abundantly. 

And so I played that song over and over again on the way home. And within minutes my spirit was lifted, I was re-energized, I was ready again to take on this world that is fallen, that is not perfect, that is in need of warriors to be His hand and feet to spread this news- that we are never alone, that we are perfectly loved even though we're not perfect, that it's all good. 

And so I came home. And I was reminded that while we can't see God the way we see other things in this world, if we have faith, we can see him through the blessings He gives to us. And I can't think of two cuter faces to see God through than those of Jackson and Audrey. 

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