Sometimes I forget why I'm here. I forget that the reason we're on this planet is to love each other, to give our love, to connect. I become confused and think my job is not love, but management. I manage tantrums, hunger, naps, trips to the grocery, amount of tv watching, sharing of toys, the rationing of candy. I manage laundry, and dinner, and preschool drop off. I manage babysitters, baths, bedtime, tylenol for teething, and night feedings. I'm always on alert to what might drive the ship aground. I am always prepared to act, and I forget to just be. I forget that in the middle of baths and bedtime, even in the middle of tantrums, I can relax. I can get done what needs to get done and be relaxed about it. I can look fully at my children and give them love while we're doing these other things. What happens instead is that I turn my focus inside and lose sight of what's going on around me, save the necessary. I forget that while these busy things do help the ship run more quietly and smoothly, they are not what's important. They are not actually my job. My job is to give love so that these children grow up feeling safe and valued and protected, so they don't struggle with the same anxiety and fear and uncertainty that plagues me.
I think this is what that woman at church last year was talking about when she said her "third was her blessing". She said it was after the third was born that she realized what was important, and that she could no longer hold everything together, so stopped trying. As long as everyone was fed and clean, that's all that mattered. At the time I thought she was nuts, but I think I understand now. It would be a blessing if I could let this go--I would feel blessed to see what's truly important, essential.
This isn't just about me. I notice that when I'm most distracted by trying to get things done, Frances slowly becomes a crazy person. But when I slow down and look straight at her without my agenda, she calms down. She feels safer. I don't just want her to feel safe in this house or community, I want her to feel safe in an existential way: safe on the planet, safe in her skin. Is that too much to hope?