Monday, January 21, 2013

Superwoman is Fiction

Last Thursday, as I drove to the car dealership, I sang out loud, “I’m super woman,” to the tune of “I’m Every Woman.” You’d think by now I might recognize the pride before the fall, but no, I didn’t. I congratulated myself on waking up, meditating, feeding everyone, and getting out the door in time. My packed schedule continued all day, without incident until 5 PM, when Carl came in the door.

“Sorry, I just heard your message,” he said.

I noticed he did not have the rolls or horseradish sauce I’d asked him to pick up on his way home. He plopped onto the couch and said he was exhausted, had body aches, and feared he had the flu. Did I feel sympathetic? No. I felt something more like fury. I was tired too. And now what were we going to have for dinner, and how was I going to get to my writing group on time, and who was going to entertain the very energetic toddler?

I huffed and sulked, then took the dog with me to pick up the things for dinner. An hour later, as I took our sandwiches out of the oven, Carl asked if something was wrong.

“I’m irritated,” I said.

When he asked why, I sighed, then thought about it. I wanted to blame my bad mood on someone else, namely him, but really, once again, the problem lied within. I had taken on too much that day, causing me to feel completely overwhelmed at the smallest obstacle. "Why don't you sit down for a few minutes?" he suggested.

Thank God I married someone who can remind me how to stay sane. When I get stressed, everything I know about staying calm flies right out of my head. But I knew he was right. I needed a few quiet minutes to calm down.

After just a few deep breaths I realized it wouldn’t matter all that much if I was a little late for the writing group. I remembered that I could ask Carl to finish the laundry and put Daniel to bed. I remembered one of my mantras, “I have all the time I need.”

Anytime I start thinking I’m superwoman, I’m in trouble. Some days I am quite amazed at what I can accomplish. But that level of energy is unsustainable for me, unless I take time for self-care. I don’t know if superwoman needed to meditate, eat well, exercise and rest, but I do.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cracks are how the Light Gets In

Mi corazon está roto. Roto.” My heart is broken. Broken. These were the only words I could summon, in speaking with my host parents in Mexico, after learning that their son had died, suddenly. On December 26. Of a heart attack. At age 36.

Nine days later, I feel a bit calmer. Somehow, my mind has accepted that Roje is dead. But I also know that my heart has acquired another fissure, one that will scab over, and hurt less, but will leave a lasting scar.

I find comfort in the idea that cracks are how the light gets in. Just today, when I entered the library and heard a screaming infant, I felt compassion for her and for her mom. Before my own struggles with parenting, I probably would have thought, “God, can’t you make her shut up? This is a library. People are working.” But the difficulties of motherhood have cracked me enough to make room for compassion and empathy. Though I wouldn’t have chosen postpartum depression or a colicky infant, I can see that good did come from those struggles.
The idea that God can bring good out of anything is different than the idea that everything happens for a reason. I just re-read an article by Christine Marie Eberly about this distinction and found it very helpful. When someone says “Everything happens for a reason,” the implication is that God chose this suffering for us for some reason we don’t understand. That concept of God doesn’t work for me. I prefer St. Paul’s notion that God can bring good out of whatever happens to us. Anne Lamott says she pictures Jesus saying, “You’re hurting. Me too. You’re angry. Me too. You’re heartbroken. Me too.” That’s a God that I can believe in.

I hate that Rogelio died. And that’s my right. I never would have chosen this for his wife or his parents, or his small children. But there it is. We cannot control when or how our loved ones die. I don’t know how good will come of this, but I have to believe that it will.

Thank you, Roje, for your friendship, your love. Thank you for your beautiful children, your example of kindness and generosity. I am a better person because I knew you. You will always be my brother. Te extrano mucho mi hermano.