I never really “nested” in the last months of pregnancy like many women do. I preferred the “sit around and wait for the baby to come” method, although I was a little jealous of the women who had urges to clean and organize. I felt like my home was going to pot around me, but I had no energy, a very wide turning radius, and a hard time reaching a lot of things. So I put it off. It just didn’t seem logistically realistic. Then Evie was born, and I had even less energy. My body was recovering. My mind was trying not to spin off its axis. My hands were occupied with the care of two tiny people.
I think I’m nesting now. “Post-pregnancy nesting,” let’s call it. I’m not pregnant—I don’t think. (This would only be good news for the grandparents, so let’s hope not.) I think it’s the fact that I’m finally getting my body back, and a little bit of freedom. One of my very wise mama-friends told me that it would take six months of having two kids before I would feel like this is the “new normal.” It took seven, which is pretty good for me if I’m only a month behind the norm.
PPN means that I run around my house on hyper drive, like a teenage girl at a Justin Beiber concert. On some sort of energy drink. On the last day of school. After a radio DJ just announced that the first person to the front of the stage will win a lifetime supply of said energy drink and a meet-and-greet with the cast of the Hunger Games. Well, maybe not quite like that. But I’m busy.
Yesterday, I painted Evie’s crib. It’s going from a very pretty oak wood to a gunmetal gray. When I googled “spray paint a crib” (cuz I want to be all safe and such with the wellbeing of my child, so I trust a bunch of crazy Internet junkies to count as my “specialists in the field”), I found a tutorial in which the lady was spray painting her crib because it was gunmetal gray. She put lots of stenciled flowers on it. Some people—people who stencil bouquets of flowers, especially—might find my choice odd. But I love gunmetal gray, as long as it’s not on guns. I prefer hot-pink handguns. The crib in question is the one you gave me—and it was looking a little worse-for-the-wear since both Luke (I think it was Luke—he was the biter, right?) and Miles spent some time teething on the wood. Plus, Evie hasn’t really gotten anything (especially décor-wise, as she hasn’t even had a room yet—has just been bunking in mine and Scott’s) that is hers. She gets all of the stuff we used for Miles, which is awesome and wonderful and special—and she won’t notice at all, ever, that we neglected to make a fabulous space for her when she was a few months old. Well, maybe only when she’s 16 and has an attitude and she’s looking through old photos and she’ll say “Why didn’t you ever buy me anything, Mom? Don’t you love me?”
I’m also pretty determined to make a dust ruffle and possibly curtains. All without sewing, as Sewing and me have a pretty dicey history. Sewing is all, “You need to spend more time with me in order to really get me.” He’s so needy. I just can’t deal with that sort of a hobby right now. So I told him, “I can’t commit to really learning how to thread you. Threading you is so involved and gives me absolutely no instant gratification. No-Sew Hem Tape, on the other hand, WHAM, BAM, THANK-YOU, MA’AM.”
Today I mulched some flowerbeds in the backyard, filled a sandbox, cleaned off all the outdoor toys. I bought a smelly candle. I made a mobile for over the crib. I generally avoided working on writing-related things (hence my long hiatus from posting stuff). The hiatus was not because I don’t enjoy the writing or because I don’t have things to say this time—it’s because it takes too long. Writing and Sewing are equally needy, I’m afraid. If there was a No-Sew Hem Tape approach to Writing, you can bet I’d be test-driving it.
Then at church on Sunday (I know, I know—I’m sorry, but it just always seems to happen!), the sermon was about finding solitude. The whole time, I was internally arguing with the pastor. Here are some of my impressive rebuttals:
– “Yeah, but you’re not a mother of two young children. If you were a mother of two young children, you’d have to rethink this whole solitude business.”
– “Some of us aren’t paid to spend time alone with our thoughts and our theology books.”
– “But I don’t waaaaaannnntt to put effort into finding solitude. I put effort into so many, many other things.”
– “Yoga might make me queef. I knew it might make me fart, but this is an entirely different fear.”
– And then, back to the whole “mother of two young children” thing.
I actually leaned over to Scott during the sermon and said, verbally, “I would listen if a stay-at-home mother of two young children were talking about solitude.”
And then I realized that I am a stay-at-home mother to young children, and that it might benefit me and other people in my situation to think about how I can find solitude even when days are hectic and crazy.
Honestly, it was an excellent sermon. Tim said many brilliant things that I should have been able to give him credit for, even if he didn’t have a vagina. He even quoted people with vaginas, like the incomparable Annie Dillard from Teaching a Stone to Talk:
“God needs nothing, asks nothing, and demands nothing, like the stars. It is a life with God that demands these things. Experience has taught the race that if knowledge of God is the end, then these habits of life are not the means but the condition in which the means operates. You do not have to do these things; not at all. God does not, I regret to report, give a hoot. You do not have to do these things—unless you want to know God. They work on you, not on him. You do not have to sit outside in the dark. If, however, you want to look at the stars, you will find that darkness is necessary. But the stars neither require nor demand it.”
Maria, you’ve shared some ways in which you find solitude. In fact, your ability to prioritize that is one of the reasons I’ve had this topic on my mind for so long. But I find I’m terrible at it. Even during those few moments when I’m relieved of caring for my kids, I still find my mind crowded with mother-y things and it’s difficult to be still.
I think that this stage of life is a unique one—but my old plan of ignoring things like solitude and self-care until the kids are able to put their own socks on or drink from a device that is not attached to me is not really a faithful option.
So, moms (or stay-at-home dads), I’m asking you, specifically: How do you find solitude?