A time and a place

I hit a wall today.

That’s to be expected, I guess, at 32-weeks pregnant. But it was self-induced. And after nursing my pride for an afternoon, I think I’ve learned a valuable lesson.

A couple weeks ago, I decided I wanted to take my half-finished fiction novel I worked on last year during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and finish and edit it this year during NaNoWriMo. My book club was even on board, ready to read the finished copy for our January meeting, along with several other friends. I was excited to finally have a finished product in my hand and cross off yet another item on my bucket list: write a book.

The first week was a breeze. I found time to write each day. I parked myself at Panera while Heidi was at preschool and wrote for hours. I even stayed up a couple nights to work on a few chapters. Yet as time has wore on, what started as a pleasurable hobby became a stressful endeavor.

I am finding myself having less and less time to write. I am finding myself struggling to give up playing games in the living room while Imagedaddy is home to sneak off and write a few hundred words.  I am finding myself face to face with pregnancy fatigue, crashing during Heidi’s nap and crashing as soon as I put her to bed at night. I am finding myself irritated with Heidi for waking early or for taking forever at bedtime because I just need to write, for heaven’s sake!

I am even finding myself wrapped up in the plot. I’ve been spending a lot of my days working out the details in the lives of these fictional characters…and then wondering why I was feeling so stressed with my own disorganized and unbalanced life.

It finally hit me today I can’t do it all. I may or may not have had a bit of a break down (don’t forget, I’m pregnant…break downs occur at least once a week). When I began to entertain the idea of shelving the book once again for another few months, I felt relief, but I also felt defeated. Like a failure. Like someone who simply couldn’t make time to accomplish a lofty and noble goal she had always wanted to do. Like someone who just couldn’t cut it.

So I did what any self-respecting girl would do. I put my kid down for a nap, made a big cup of tea, put my sweats on, and cried on my couch. (Don’t worry…I’m pregnant…so it happens a lot).

I wanted to be ambitious. Tenacious. I wanted to write this inspiring book that people would love reading. I wanted to get glowing reviews from my friends. I wanted to win NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row. I even wanted to try getting my book published. And maybe be interviewed by Kathy Lee and Hoda!! How fun! What I’ve always wanted!

But left in the wake the past two weeks has been everything else that is most important to me…Heidi, preparing for baby Gavin, and my marriage to my awesome husband. Have these areas truly suffered? Not really. In fact, Cody was very supportive. There’s probably a realistic way to balance it all, honestly. Many women do it beautifully, and I can’t say sometimes I’m not a little bit jealous of those girls who seem to manage it all.

But I have a tough time dividing my heart and my mind and my time. That’s just me. I hate the irritability that creeps into my voice when Heidi is simply being a child, yet my mind is on another project I’d ‘rather’ be doing. Ironically enough, when I finally sit down to work on that project, I feel guilty for the way I acted towards Heidi and how un-present I really was. I hate that I wasn’t enjoying one on one time with her because all I could think about was the writing time I was losing.

And as I sat there on my couch, I realized I was struggling so much because I wasn’t allowing myself to see that I am ambitious. I am ambitious about being a good mom. I am ambitious about what I want to teach Heidi about life at a young age…compassion, prayer, thoughtfulness, kindness, purity, goodness and faith. I am tenacious enough to think I can, and I am faith-filled enough to believe God will help me.  And I am crazy enough to want to do it full-time.

Today as I cried on my couch, my mom called. Her timing is impeccable. As soon as she heard the tears in my voice, the first words out of her mouth were, “What’s wrong?” and followed closely without waiting for an answer, “I’m coming over.” And within 15 minutes, she was on my couch next to me, giving me a big hug. She cracked open a Diet Coke, put her feet up, and stayed to chat with me as long as I needed her to.

I want to always be that kind of mom…what my mom has been for me for thirty years. And I don’t ever want to feel that that isn’t enough…that it’s not ambitious enough or daring enough or big enough. It has made all the difference for me in my life, and I want to be that for Heidi.

Will there be a time and a place to write a book…maybe even finish the one I’ve started…one day? Of course. But it’s not now and it’s not here.

Tonight, Heidi took awhile to go to sleep. Most nights, she doesn’t have a problem, so we don’t mind reading her extra books or Imagesometimes laying with her until she falls asleep. I was glad that tonight, it didn’t irritate or bother me. In fact, I was rather glad to finally have some focused and quiet time with her. We read a book, read a bible story, did our prayers, and then we chatted for awhile…about her cousins and about why her new Lewis the Lion book is kind of scary and about why storms sometimes knock down houses (she had seen some of the storm footage in the Philippines this morning on the news).  We talked about her grandparents and her friends coming over tomorrow and when we should bake pumpkin bread. We talked about how she won’t wet the bed tonight and why her dog chewed up her Lincoln logs and how much she loves the Christmas tree in her room.

And after some chatting, she rolled over, pulled my arm around her, and began breathing more slowly. I lay next to her, breathing in her shampooed hair, enjoying the childlike glow of her Christmas tree, listening to the Tangled soundtrack playing quietly, enjoying the little-girl feel of her room and marveling that God gave me such a beautiful gift in her…in motherhood. I don’t take it lightly. He certainly didn’t have to give it to me…and I nearly thought He wouldn’t. When I allow myself to dwell on it, I literally have to bow my head in thanks for it. Humbleness makes my shoulders sag and my heart squeeze tight. And to think another one, God willing, is coming in January is nearly too much.

I will cherish the gift. I will let Heidi and Gavin and Cody be my ambitions, and I will let that be enough.

Where we all are is enough, and the world is hell-bent to convince us otherwise. Don’t let it. Do what is in your heart to do. And try to trust God with the rest.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  ~Hebrews 12:2

I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it. ~1 Corinthians 12:14-18


10 thoughts on “A time and a place

  1. thank you Jamie. You will never know how precious these words are to me (uh, yes, you will someday). To know my children still need me in this time of their lives heightens my day and makes me feel as significant and needed as when you guys were little. And sometimes, that’s all I need. I am so proud of you, Jamie! I think you are an awesome mom and I love your writing. Heidi is a very, very lucky little girl to have you as her mommy (she’s pretty lucky to have some Grandparents who love her dearly also). The way you bring things into perspective is awe-inspiring. I think that how God intends it to be. YOu can’t feel the good until you feel the struggle.

  2. Jamie,
    Had you not come to the conclusion that you did, my advice would have certainly been to put “IT” aside and savor the value of all that you have. Your little girl will not be a little girl forever. IT (the novel) will be there for you when you’re ready. You are so very fortunate to have your mother close by. I know how comforting she was to you and I also know you mean it when you say you want to be just like her. A better model could not be found.

    Life’s blessings often take a good cry on the couch to discover and the serendipity of a call from your mother and her ability to be there for you and help you to understand what is important. Oh, and let’s not forget the value of that Diet Coke!

    Can’t wait to read your novel…..whenever! This was a wonderful post for me to read and made me feel grateful that there parents like you in this world!

    John Patten

    1. Thanks so much, John!!! I know you guys are the very same for Kirsten and that she misses you all dearly. We are all so blessed to have parents like you guys and my parents. 🙂 We all have good models!

  3. Jamie,
    This is so true for so many and good for you for writing and sharing it. Sometimes even Wonder Woman has to put her cape away. You are a wonderful role model to not just Heidi but to young moms everywhere. Hugs dear! Great Job!

  4. Jamie,

    Big sis feeling very proud of lil sis right now! I hope you know that your faith, wisdom, and insight are and have been inspirational to me. You’re blog came at a good time. Hoping, praying my faith deepens as yours. It’s work in progress and adore your reminder!

    Love you dearly!

    PS- mom is pretty awesome, isn’t she?

    1. Thanks sis. *hugs* Love YOU dearly….and mom IS pretty awesome…so are you. I’m blessed enough to have the BOTH of you to help me through motherhood. I Don’t know what I’d do without either of you. (Got your voicemail….call you soon!) LOVE YOU.

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