Life with two children is tough. And life overseas is tough. Add the two together and I often feel like I'm simply surviving, floating from one moment to the next, living from one thing to another. In the past six days alone I've been to the doctor twice (once for me, once for Lane) and the ER once (for Lane...stinkin' nursemaid's elbow. Again). Our hot water heater (which also heats our apartment) went out. Again. Lane has learned that if she says she needs to go potty that bedtime or nap time gets postponed, so she's been getting to bed late. She's skipped two naps and had a third that lasted just 45 minutes. I have a bare-bottomed girlie running through my house, peeing on things occasionally, pooing on the floor occasionally. Thursday and Friday nights I got approximately 4 hours of sleep for staying up late working on a certain birthday cake. And of course Lane always needs something from me the minute I sit down to nurse Noel and daddy's not home.
To say I've been stressed would be an understatement. It seems that life is never "normal," like I want it to be. There's always something. Something breaks and needs to be repaired. Somebody needs to go to the doctor. Some paperwork needs to be filled out (currently it's Noel's application for a social security card, which will need to be followed up by a 3-hour round-trip excursion to the Consulate to drop it off). Laundry needs to be hung, floors need to be vacuumed (how on earth do they get so dirty every. single. day.?) Things need to be scrubbed, meetings need to be attended. Languages need to be learned. Spilled milk needs to be wiped up, photos need to be uploaded and saved. Babies need to be bathed, hair needs to be washed, and new cell phones need to be learned how to be used (because the old cell phone got sent through the washing machine). Phones run out of minutes when you least expect it and you have to take an hour to go put more money on them, babysitters cancel, and life just keeps going, crazy as it all is. And it's easy to get caught up in the frustration of just putting one foot in front of the other.
I am tired.
Last year a friend of mine gave birth to her first child, a boy named Noah. There were complications with the vaginal delivery and when she woke out of the anesthesia of her emergency c-section, she learned that Noah was delivered with no heartbeat. The doctors got his heart started again, but he never did breathe on his own, and 23 days after he was born, they took him off life support.
I think about her every day.
I think about how she would give anything to be exhausted from being up in the middle of the night nursing her son. I think about how she would gladly sacrifice "alone time" to hold her baby when he just won't go to sleep on his own for a nap. I think about how her body has to recover from pregnancy and she has to deal with all the same things (hormones, hair loss, extra pounds), but she has no baby to hold to make it all worth it. I think about how she'd be more than willing to put her baby back in bed ten. million. times. after he got up to go to the bathroom, because it would mean that he was still here and that she had had two wonderful years with him already.
And I'm determined to live differently.
This New Year, instead of resolving to lose weight, or to eat healthier, or to be more organized, I'm resolving to be more grateful. To live with more joy. Not to necessarily enjoy every moment, but to be grateful that I have been given that moment. I am not guaranteed tomorrow. I am not guaranteed another day with my children, and how sad would it be if today I lived my life, frustrated at all the frustrations, being short with my husband and daughters, wishing the moments away until bedtime, and then tomorrow came their time and I never got another day with them? How much would I regret today?
This year, I will live in joy. I will be thankful for each moment with those I love, even the moments that are frustrating, the make-me-want-to-pull-my-hair-out moments (or days). I will choose thankfulness over dissatisfaction. I will tell my daughters that I love them, I will kiss their heads and ask them if they know I love them. I will ask for forgiveness when I'm harsh. I will practice patience. I will be grateful for every moment, even those I don't enjoy. I will be thankful.
When Lane is up past bedtime, trying to use the potty, looking at me with big round eyes and a grin on her face, I will try not to focus on how annoyed I am that I've been trying to get her in bed for two hours. I will be thankful that I have the opportunity to parent her, to teach her how to use the potty.
When Noel is up at 2 a.m., nursing and snorting and grunting and pooping, I will try not to think about how completely exhausted I am. I will be grateful that she is healthy and strong.
When I can't seem to get anything done around the house because the stars seem to be aligned against me, my husband is gone, and my girls are cranky, I will try not to put my self-worth in my productivity. I will thank the Lord that I have a home, a husband, and not just one, but two healthy girls, none of whom value me solely for my day's output.
This year I won't necessarily Carpe Diem. But I will be thankful for it.
I will remember Noah.