The last weeks of my pregnancy were glorious.
Well, not the aching hips or the insomnia. Or the nothing-in-my-closet-fits situation, either. And to be honest, despite being excited for our family of three to grow to four, Mark and I weren’t getting along all that great this time last year.
But my productivity? My organization? GLORIOUS.
My to-do lists, always a staple of my trying-to-get-it-together life, were a thing of beauty. They had specific tasks with hard deadlines and step-by-step goals to make it all happen. Each day had its assignments and, somehow, I managed to complete them. When they were assigned. Before they were due.
It was amazing.
I bought extra groceries and paper goods to stock our pantry. I made meal plans and cooked meals to put in the freezer. I bought gifts and thank you notes and stamps and Christmas cards. I wrote guest posts and regular posts to increase my blog traffic. And if that wasn’t enough, I scheduled pins that were timely and relevant and certain to keep my platform growing while my newborn, well, did the same. I made plans and I created schedules, I wrote lists and I got things done.
I was on top of things.
I was together.
I was … nesting.
Since January 13, I have been less than together. Not so on top of things. No longer nesting. Since I had a baby nearly nine months ago, I’ve been a mess.
It’s not just the usual messiness of life I’ve been experiencing. Sure, my house gets frightfully messy at least twice a week, my laundry never gets folded or put away, and meal planning is a distant memory. But even more treacherous than the chaos of my home and my beloved to-do lists is the chaos inside.
I haven’t been able to focus.
I have forgotten everything, from kindergarten parties to hospital bills.
I’ve missed so many deadlines, dropped so many balls and let so many people down that the one thing I’ve wished for almost as much as more sleep is another way to say, “I’m sorry.”
Of course, in the midst of my life with a newborn there has been so much beauty, so many gifts. My baby girl is absolutely The Sweetest Baby To Ever Live (apologies to your babies, of course). And her big sister is seriously The Best Doting Big Sister in the History of Ever. And that husband of mine who I fought with so viciously in those last, otherwise glorious weeks of pregnancy? He’s my biggest gift of all.
On top of that I could list a thousand other blessings, from a flexible job and cool writing opportunities to friends and family and fall weather. So, please, don’t hear me complaining about this life of mine. It’s a good one. But it’s been full of chaos – and I don’t handle chaos well.
I’m not one to be called laidback, I don’t roll with the punches by instinct, and my nature is one that reacts to change and disorder by essentially putting my fingers in my hears and singing, “Lalala, I can’t hear you!”
The chaos of this year has worn me down.
But as the seasons have begun to change once again, bringing the calendar and the temperatures back around to my favorite season of fall, I’ve felt a shift inside. While my house is still messy and my to-do list is still ineffective, my heart feels less chaotic. I’m beginning to believe that I don’t have to simply react to each day, each moment; I’m remembering that I can plan ahead and be intentional and – gasp! – follow through.
My baby girl is still not sleeping through the night, and my big girl is still processing her adjustment to no longer being an only child. I’m still certain I’m not getting a full 24 hours in each day, and I can’t seem to kick my habit of a daily nap. Lots of things are up in the air today, undecided and unfinished. But, if you’ll excuse the cliche, I think I can see the light.
I know this stage of life is just that. It’s a season and, as sure as the leaves will turn and fall and be buried under snow, it will pass eventually. I feel steadier on my feet, a little less dizzy than I have since the beginning of this year – and I’m grasping onto that flicker of hope with both hands.
Someday soon I will make a plan and then follow it. I will write tasks on my list and then complete them. I will make promises and keep them; I’ll set deadlines and meet them. I’ll remember to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer before it mildews, and I’ll empty the dishwasher before the counters are full of all the dirty ones. I’ll look around at my house, my family, my life, myself – and feel peace.
“For God is not a God of disorder but peace…”
1 Corinthians 14:33
Until then, I’m trying to be patient with myself, with this season. Now that I can finally see it coming to an end, I can appreciate that everyone was right. Having a baby (or, perhaps for you, starting a new job or selling a house or moving across the country or joining a new church) is hard. It’s hard and it will seem like it’s going to last forever – but it won’t.
So I keep hanging on – to the hope of a new season, and to the beauty in the messiness of this one. I take a deep breath, turn away from the leaning tower of papers that need to be filed and smile at my girls giggling on the living room floor. Maybe there’s something to be said for the in-between after all.
How do you stay patient with yourself during difficult seasons?
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
My “babies” are grown, but your post took me back to those sleep deprived days. They are hard. You are human. And, I think you are doing exceptionally well. If we always hummed along on “I’ve got it all together” then we wouldn’t need a Savior. I’ve learned (and am still learning) that when I hit those seasons of chaos, instead of beating myself up, I try to see them as a Heavenly directional arrow pointing to the One who is ultimately in control; the One who can give me peace. The piles and laundry and clutter will always be there, but your precious babies will not always be little. Be present with them…believe me, it’s a choice you won’t regret. You are doing great…keep on keeping on. Thanks for a great post!
Mary Carver says
Thank you for your encouragement, Bev! Being present sounds like the least a person can do, but it’s so very important. I need that reminder…pretty much every day! 🙂
My “season” is a little different I have a new teen. your post was so timely for me because this stage has been very difficult the last month and it feels like it will never end. I needed to be reminded of the time when she was little and I felt like those tough nights (and days) would never end. Thank you for reminding me that it will end and that God is still here in between and always.
Mary Carver says
He is! And thankfully, even as our kids change so dramatically, HE never does. He is the same today and always. Whew! 😉 (Also – prayers for you as you enter these teen years. As dramatic as my 7yo already is, I anticipate a lot of holding on to the Lord when we get to that age!) 🙂
You write so eloquently, it’s beautiful, a glft that you have and a blessing for me today. So, thank you. You sound like you are doing great – your girls are the priority among the messy goodness of life. I’m in a very different season – I’m waiting for the husband and the babies to one day come along but it seems time is running out. I struggle to live alone. But this is my season, may be forever, and I thank God for it. He shows me his love, goodness and gives me things to do that I couldn’t if I had those other things. And that I am thankful for. Wishing you ladies a lovely day today xxx
Mary Carver says
Thank you for your kind words, Louise! Praying that God fills you up during this season!
Beth Williams says
Keep praying and asking for that special someone. It took me 39 years before God sent me my special Doug. It was well worth the wait!!
I will say a prayer for you also. Prayers that God will send a sweet special Christian man your way who will love you for who you are! Remember during your waiting time you could be used of God in a variety of ways.
Oh goodness! I remember those early days like they were yesterday! So, so hard. So, so glorious! I totally “get” this post.
I AM a laid-back person, so when the chaos and disorder starts getting to ME? Well, as they say, “there’s your sign.” It’s not good.
But you are wise to remember and remind us that it’s just a season…and it will pass. And there will be another season…and it will pass. The seasons of marriage and parenting and…life…they change and they pass and each season has joys and struggles all their own. My “season” now is that I have a senior in high school. And there are dead-lines and decisions and change that is looming. He’s our youngest of 4, so we’ve done this all before. We know that it’s just a season…but still need this reminder. And a couple of our other children are married and starting their lives together with their spouses…and living on their own. And planning for babies.
Change. Seasons. I think I’ve lived “in-between” my whole life.
Thank you for this honest post. Such encouragement for me today.
Mary Carver says
Marty, you have a lot of wisdom to share, I think! Yes – in one way or another, we might just be “in between” something at all times! Learning to trust God and love Him no matter what our seasons look (or feel) like will certainly help us through all the changes we face. Prayers for your family has you face a year of in-between with your youngest!
What a wonderful post and a blessing. As I watch my “young lad” now 20 in college and finding himself it tugs at my heart the fact that his reliance on me has shifted. I am no longer the most important person in his world. The time we spend together went from seeking my advice to requesting I keep out of his business. I know this season shall pass and God has shown me that He is there for me and that I can rely on him and seek his advice and he will never leave me. This I know is true and I hold on to God even more tightly in this difficult season of my life not wanting to let him go but the hurt of missing my little boy still lingers.
Mary Carver says
Oh, Paulette, how hard! And how strange that as parents we go from being needed “too much” to being needed too little in what probably seems like a blink. Praying for your heart and for your wisdom as you move from one season to another with your son.
Kelly Evans says
What a great post- I am there with you. Dreaming of the day that 5am is not the standard wake up time for my 15 month old and when my 3 year old is able to go to sleep without mommy or daddy sitting in her room waiting (impatiently) for her to drift off to dreamland, hopefully by 10pm. Dreaming of the day when Hubs and I can have an actual conversation that doesn’t involve words trailing off as one of us falls asleep. Despite all this it’s also a beautiful time for our family- and I’m intentionally trying to be grateful for all these things and the beauty of every moment, even the ones that feel like an imposition or a hurdle to my getting adequate sleep. In the next phase there will be new things that feel chaotic and crazy, so I’m going to join you in the now of being thankful for this season and joyful expectation of the next.
Mary Carver says
Oh Kelly. 5am should not be a wake-up time for anyone! Silly babies! 🙂 I like how you put that – joyful expectation of the next season. What a great perspective, and I’m going to use it in my life!
I so needed to hear this today… My life has been in chaos and I think it’s finally coming to an end but I know that in all the chaos I am Blessed!
Mary Carver says
Glad to hear that your chaotic season might be coming to a close, Michelle! But I’m even more grateful that we can learn to be thankful and to find peace even in the midst of the messiness! 🙂
Thank you so much for the post – it speaks to me where I am at. God Bless
Honey, I am now where only my youngest grandbaby is at your stage in life. I do know what you mean.
However, I have had a different problem all my long (44 years) married life: I am not good at housework, and have found many ways to choose other jobs over it. But yesterday while reviewing verses on God’s creation, I realized bringing order out of chaos and cleanliness out of dirt is a God-job, a God-thing. (So is nurturing your young family, which is God’s PRIORITY for you, so don’t apply MY lesson to your household). I got up off my duff and proceeded to reorder just a few small spaces – because I was doing it for God, with God.
Today my to-do list says:
Order out of Chaos:
LR – trinkets; wash ceiling
DR – put away more trinkets (all displaced by the remodeling project that ended the day I was
packing for a 10 day trip)
replace Shower curtain
Of course, other non-housework jobs are on the list, but the reminder that housecleaning joins God in His work is helping to motivate me.
Put that family first, but whenever you manage one of the cleaning-type jobs, that’s great. However, remember God has the advantage over you: He neither slumbers nor sleeps, but you were created to need sleep. He’s the only One Who ever completes His to-do list. We make ’em, but they reminder us (as sleep does) that we are not God. And that’s a good thing! (For everybody!)
Hi, WOW…what a true picture of the reality of having babies, raising them to be the wonderful adults they are sure to become, and doing all of this with the demands of everything around you that cries for order, neatness, etc. But, it is such a normal experience, and trust me, it will pass and your children will mature. I look back on my life and see myself in your writing. Now, my children are fully grown, married and with children (and GRANDCHILDREN) of their own! But, guess what? In my old age, my housework sometimes is STILL undone because my knees hurt; my busy desk/computer tasks leave lots of filing/paperwork to complete, and all-in-all, I experience frustration at not being able to keep it ‘in order’ all the time as I wish I could. But, so be it! I’m having fun doing things and trying not to worry too much about my ‘to do’ lists! I have them, and they kind of guide me along, but if a nap is calling….I answer! Life fully lived and enjoyed each day is the most important thing in life. Do the best you can…as you obviously are doing! Your neat days lie ahead….and more of the messy ones, too! All a part of life. You seem to be one that can roll with the punches. God bless you and your wonderful family!
Love this post & the comments! I especially connect with the thought that we are always in the “in-betweens”. I have a tendency to believe everything will be perfect, I’ll be happy when (fill in the blank – graduate college, get married, get pregnant, etc). Currently blessed to be the mom of a 8 month old, and it seems like God is reminding me daily to slow down, and this season, as a stay at home mom of a little one, is important. Not something to be rushed past on the way to something more important. Thanks to all of you for the encouragement!
Oh man, what a great read for me this morning! I just had major surgery (well, 6 weeks ago) and if my life was not in a bit of a chaotic state before – and it was – it sure has been lately! A hysterectomy, they tell me, is a HUGE thing for a woman to go through. But I was not prepared. “You need to be good to yourself and give yourself plenty of time to recover”…. Uh, yeah – say the women who obviously don’t have 4 teenagers, one with autism, one a newly adopted foster daughter, and another with an attitude that could bring even the strongest of parents to his/her knees (my youngest happens to be an angel and obviously God knew I would have to catch a break somewhere), and a husband who’s trying to be our sole provider while also going to school!! I have “forgotten” so many appointments these last 6 weeks, my house has reached the point of being borderline uninhabitable, and my family has eaten more fast food than I can think about without tearing up – if there was such a thing as a mothering license, it would surely be revoked by now. All of this is SO not my typical nature, as I highly value order and organization, and it has seriously threatened my sanity on several occasions. Thank you for sharing your story, and reminding me that this is a season which will certainly pass, and not a permanent condition! Blessings to you!!
This sounds just like me! My children are all grown up but I have grandchildren 8 grandchildren under the age of 3. I work two jobs 7 days a week after work I pick up a few of my grandchildren to babysit them until their parents get off work to come and get them. I have 5 adult children of my own. Talking about being disorganized! Thank goodness I have a Ladies group I attend each Thursday to have bible study with. God has been my rock without him I totally would be a mess! I to keep telling myself this is only a season in my life it to shall pass. I prayed the other night that God would give me peace & and please try to remain not selfish with my time! This is only a SEASON! God Bless you!
Ah, seasons. I wrote about them today. Sometimes they last a while – and then sometimes the wind blows and another season has begun before we can even blink.
I have 3….and those months of fog there – the months filled with chaos and mess and dizziness – grew me. And I even find myself longing for them sometimes now.
Lisa E says
Thank you for your post! My babies are all grown up now, but I can sure relate!
My life is chaotic right now as well, and I just want to sit and cry. My husband is on dialysis, and right now we are going through training, 5 days a week 6 hours a day. When we finish that we go to my daughter’s home to babysit our 3 grandkids till she gets home at 6. Then we go home and try to figure out dinner before we fall into bed. To top all that off we have new puppy
This is such a blessing to hear. I am kind of a clean freak and i have an almost year and a half old child… Needless to say, she doesn’t mind leaving her Cheerios on the floor, in the car, or playing with her hair while her hands are covered in spaghetti sauce
Jeanne Takenaka says
Mary, I loved this post. It’s a season, thank goodness. I don’t do chaos well either. It’s in those times I have to lean hard into Jesus and ask Him to order my steps one at a time. 🙂 You’re right, we get through it. You’re also right that there is something to be said for being in that in-between stage. 🙂 I like the reminder you hinted at and someone else said–to be fully present in each moment.
It’s hard, but that’s where I’m aiming to be each moment. As I focus on the moment, I catch glimpses of my kids’ hearts when I turn aside from my task to them. I catch trace glimpses of Jesus’ fingerprints on each day when I stop to look. So, that’s what I’m working on–being present, even in the chaos, even in the difficult seasons. And always keeping my eyes and heart focused upward.
Oops, it didn’t post my whole comment. Needless to say, this season has brought so much joy and we have laughed and loved like never before. So even when it’s difficult for my clean freak side to find Cheerios in random places (like in my cup of coffee the other day?!?) it’s so worth it!
I love this, Mary! I wrote yesterday and today on how Seasons Come and Seasons Go (Hallelujah!) and it is so true! So often there is an invitation to rest in the in-between… I am learning to take it, and not just rush right on into the Next!
Lisa Brown says
I usually fall apart and throw an internal tantrum. My inner emotions will start leaking and unfortunately everyone around me will experience a very grouchy mommy and wife. I will feel guilty and horrible. Finally I will stop and seek God. There He is with open arms reminding me how much He loves me. I gain my energy back and I feel accepted with no conditions. This gives me peace! With peace I can move mountains of clutter really fast!!!! Thanks for your post! So encouraging. And yes everything is a season. Newborn days are hard! For me it is learning to do home school well. It is hard right now.
Susan Gruener says
I don’t know why, but it sure seems like more mommas go through this than not… I know I did…and I didn’t forget it…I’m a 62 year old gramma! One of my daughters was in the throws of it all too…
I simply have to pray 24/7…keep my eyes fixed on Him…pray some more…read His promises…pray some more…you get the idea…
I’m so glad you think you see some ‘light’…it’s sooooo hard sometimes…
Praying for you!!!
I like you! I can say I totally relate to everything you are saying here and have written very similar blog posts over the last 2 1/2 years! My season is changing a bit, but still there are those moments. Choosing to give up my expectations for “perfect” and choose joy and search for beauty in the midst if the chaos. Thank you for writing! Your honesty encourages many!
Oh, how I wish I was in the season your in now. Those are your most busiest times but also the most rewarding. Those are the years that as you enter your Senior years you’ll look back on with the most fondness. I just wish there were a few do overs. If I could go back with what I’ve learned and redo those years things would be so much better for me and my family. You realize the things you fussed over the most don’t amount to anything. Teaching your kids to be honest and treat people the way they would want to be treated is one of the most valuable lessons there is. I would have caught the abusive family characteristics that I grew up and changed them so the cycle would have been broken and my kids would have been free. Yes, you treasure this season and know it passes to quickly. With all my love, Sharon
Hang in there Mary!! I will be praying for you. Glad to hear you are on the up swing of things now. Having two kids is so much more than double the one… I know it sounds strange but it is true. My third child (lost the second one) was colicky and so miserable and I was completely lost. Every picture of us in the first 3-6 months I look terrible and exhausted. It was a hard time. But that “baby” just turned 24 yesterday! I try to remember that I lived through all that when I have a hard day now.
Thankfully it is just a Season. =)
Shannon @ Distracted by Prayer says
It is SO much easier to give this advice to someone else, than to give myself a break! Agreed? I’m past the baby stage and onto the teen years. Still struggling with keeping the perspective of seasons. The message is just as effective no matter our season.
Lindsey Brackett says
Mary, thank you so much for this post! I’ve been feeling that way too, that I’ve gone from on top of the world and amazed at all I’ve done to rock bottom I’ll never remember anything or finish anything ever again. The reminder that God does not desire disorder for me, and has in fact equipped me to have order if I’m walking with Him, is a powerful one. Blessings to you and your sweet girls!
Beth Williams says
This whole year has been a bit of a chaos for me. Moved my dad into assisted living, had medication issues that landed him in hospital and rehab for about 2 weeks. Back to rehab then falling down 3X in 1 month, doctors visits, etc. Then in late August before vacation another hospitalization. During that time I worked a busy, job that I don’t enjoy & my hubby almost lost his job (thankfully still employed, but in ER). Life is still a bit chaotic, but somewhat more settled.
Stay with the little ones and enjoy them while you can. Don’t worry to much about the housework, etc. It will always be there!! Life is to short!!! 🙂