FAITH / LIVING WELL / MOTHERHOOD

lessons from the landscape

11.18.09
lessons from the lanscape

Sometimes I wish I had it all figured out. That I'd learned all of life's lessons so that I didn't need to be taught anymore. I wish my well of patience was overflowing and that when faced with annoyances, stresses, messes, unwelcome news, I could handle it with more grace and calm.

Yesterday my car broke down.

My laptop keyboard broke, leaving me to type this post at an excruciatingly slow speed.

I missed an ultrasound appointment.

My vacuum cleaner broke.

I felt the heavy strain of the same thing that always wears on me lately.

My two year old is waking way too early, napping way too briefly, and taking way too long to fall asleep.

And my house feels dirty and disorganized.

I can hear my mother's voice in my head, "this too shall pass." And I've said to my husband many times that I see the light at the end of the tunnel, yet for some reason we're on a treadmill.

Yesterday afternoon when Elizabeth woke up from her nap, crying, I went in to hold her, hoping to lull her back to sleep. I wrapped her in quilts and we sat in the chair, in her dark quiet room. Within seconds I felt the heaviness of her little body against mine and I heard her breathing switch to the raspy rhythms of sleep.

As I sat there in the chair, I tried to talk myself out of my mood. I tried to regain perspective. I prayed. But man, I just couldn't. I so wish I could have gotten that fresh breath, that new perspective, but it just wasn't coming. And I knew that I was being faced with one of those days where every reserve of patience is required. But I was either finding my reserve empty, or I was just unwilling to dip into it.

I have to say, I'm learning as I type this post. That sometimes on the hard days it feels easier to just rage against all that's wrong in your life. It feels easier to be in a bad mood. To snap at your children. To curse the mess. To allow yourself to believe that everyone else has it all together, has everything in their house working, has every load of laundry folded and put away. But if that is the path you choose it leaves you feeling worn out, exhausted, disappointed and does absolutely nothing to change the situation.

lessons from the lanscape

I've been thinking lately how the view out my window has changed. In what feels like the blink of an eye, the trees have shed their leaves, the zinnias flower heads have turned brown and gone to seed. But now, with the landscape stripped bare, it is amazing what hidden beauty comes into view. The trees are littered with nests. Tiny works of woven art. If I stand in the girls bedroom and look out the window, I can see the shimmer of the sun hitting the stream that runs at the back of our property.

When stripped bare, the landscape is revealing its inner beauty. When taken back to bare bones and twigs there is still something to behold.

In a small sense, yesterday stripped me bare. Some of my leaves were blown from the tree. And unfortunately, afterward, there wasn't much beauty to behold.

But I'm still learning. I'm still a young tree. I'm growing. And maybe next time when things seem to be falling down around me, there will be a little more beauty to behold on the inside.

lessons from the lanscape

Sometimes I wish I had it all figured out. That I'd learned all of life's lessons so that I didn't need to be taught anymore. I wish my well of patience was overflowing and that when faced with annoyances, stresses, messes, unwelcome news, I could handle it with more grace and calm.

Yesterday my car broke down.

My laptop keyboard broke, leaving me to type this post at an excruciatingly slow speed.

I missed an ultrasound appointment.

My vacuum cleaner broke.

I felt the heavy strain of the same thing that always wears on me lately.

My two year old is waking way too early, napping way too briefly, and taking way too long to fall asleep.

And my house feels dirty and disorganized.

I can hear my mother's voice in my head, "this too shall pass." And I've said to my husband many times that I see the light at the end of the tunnel, yet for some reason we're on a treadmill.

Yesterday afternoon when Elizabeth woke up from her nap, crying, I went in to hold her, hoping to lull her back to sleep. I wrapped her in quilts and we sat in the chair, in her dark quiet room. Within seconds I felt the heaviness of her little body against mine and I heard her breathing switch to the raspy rhythms of sleep.

As I sat there in the chair, I tried to talk myself out of my mood. I tried to regain perspective. I prayed. But man, I just couldn't. I so wish I could have gotten that fresh breath, that new perspective, but it just wasn't coming. And I knew that I was being faced with one of those days where every reserve of patience is required. But I was either finding my reserve empty, or I was just unwilling to dip into it.

I have to say, I'm learning as I type this post. That sometimes on the hard days it feels easier to just rage against all that's wrong in your life. It feels easier to be in a bad mood. To snap at your children. To curse the mess. To allow yourself to believe that everyone else has it all together, has everything in their house working, has every load of laundry folded and put away. But if that is the path you choose it leaves you feeling worn out, exhausted, disappointed and does absolutely nothing to change the situation.

lessons from the lanscape

I've been thinking lately how the view out my window has changed. In what feels like the blink of an eye, the trees have shed their leaves, the zinnias flower heads have turned brown and gone to seed. But now, with the landscape stripped bare, it is amazing what hidden beauty comes into view. The trees are littered with nests. Tiny works of woven art. If I stand in the girls bedroom and look out the window, I can see the shimmer of the sun hitting the stream that runs at the back of our property.

When stripped bare, the landscape is revealing its inner beauty. When taken back to bare bones and twigs there is still something to behold.

In a small sense, yesterday stripped me bare. Some of my leaves were blown from the tree. And unfortunately, afterward, there wasn't much beauty to behold.

But I'm still learning. I'm still a young tree. I'm growing. And maybe next time when things seem to be falling down around me, there will be a little more beauty to behold on the inside.

56 comments on “lessons from the landscape”

  1. What a timely post for me. Thank you for sharing. Yesterday was also one of those days for me, and I seem to be struggling more lately than I would like with these exact issues. It’s heartening to know that I am not the only one that feels that way.

  2. When things like this happen around here, my husband sometimes thinks aloud, “Who says money doesn’t solve problems! Every problem we’ve got could be solved by an extra thousand dollars.”

    While it is terribly discouraging to homeschool in a messy house (I know this pain, and all the others you mentioned LOL), and even more discouraging when the two-year-old’s sleep goes haywire, we can be thankful that our problems aren’t bigger and more complicated. Believe me, I’m not lecturing. Talking to myself really. I still haven’t ironed out my Emily’s sleep problems (she used to be a great sleeper).

    Beautifully written and illustrated, by the way! Lovely.

  3. I so understand where you are coming fom.Your mum is right though this time will pass.One day you will only look back in fondness of these days.These days where you can hold your child on your lap whilst they sleep.Priceless times.

  4. Wow, beautiful! I’ve been reading your blog for a while and enjoy it very much. This morning you truly spoke to me. Thank you for sharing your perspective with us 🙂

  5. I found myself taking deep breaths as I read your post–it seems that many of us were having one of those days yesterday. And today I find myself fighting that feeling that there’s not enough time to do whatever it is that I want to do. I think that’s a sign that this life (for the next week or so, since my kids are off from school all next week) needs to be less about me and more about the others. Whatever craft supply I’m suddenly dying to have right away can wait; the hugs can’t.

  6. Hang in there, Molly!.For what it’s worth, I have to remind myself DAILY that no one ever really has it all together. Not all the time, anyway. And those that pretend they do rarely have a creative bone in their body.((hugs!))

  7. Thank you so much for this post. This seems how my last few weeks have been + my patience has long since been shed. It seems something else happens whenever I’m trying to get it back. I hate how it makes me feel, but knowing that others are going through it does give me some relief. Just breathing. Just being. That’s what I need to do. Fresh starts with fresh perspectives. Thank you again.

  8. Your honesty is searing. I’ve been there too this week, but the next day, I woke up, the sun was shining and I was a whole different creature. Thank goodness the next day is always just around the corner.

  9. Wow, your blog posts always seem to be right on. Just explained and written out in a much better way then I ever could begin to try to exlain. I guess we just have to learn to take each day as it comes, be realistic about what can be done and our children’s behavior, and remember that tomarrow is a fresh day, a new beginning. hopefulyl today is better. if not, well theres always the next day 🙂

  10. The Big Guy up there only gives what he feels one can handle. I’m sure he was right…cause it looks as if you’ve just shed all that old skin for some that’s newer and wiser.

    The best part about it is you shared it with us and helped many feel quite normal. Thanks.

  11. Our mothers have the same mantra. We are in the midst of great challenges and I’m feeling low and lost these days. It will pass, it always does, and usually, in the end, things are brighter. I have to remember that during the difficult moments otherwise they can swallow you whole.

    There is beauty in the barren landscape, but remember, too, it is also resting, regrouping, and preparing for spring and rebirth.

  12. You write out my thoughts so beautifully. LOL. I cannot give you advice, because I don’t have any. I often ask myself why my mother did not face the same problems. I don’t remember a dirty house, loads of laundry in the bathrooms. No my memories are clean, wholesome, and perfect. However, I have come to this one conclusion, and that is that times have changed in the forty years since I have been born. We can no longer send our kids outside to play to give us an extra three hours to clean the house. To please our husbands, and to please ourselves. My mother never babysat us. She did not sit there and play with us for hours, while we messed up one room after another. We would seek and often find someone in the neighborhood to play with. I was five when I had my first bike accident. I was two miles away from home. This could not happen anymore. No, we are now working a 24-hour job, and required to do everything our mothers did and then some. Most men don’t even do the finances anymore. Things have changed. You no longer walk to the local grocery store. It is a 2-hour trip through 20000 square feet of merchandise. I like my house clean. I like my husband happy. I also like my children happy, but we are not magicians, and cannot be everything at once, and take care of ourselves on top of that.My children stopped napping at 2, but because I believe that I need some quiet time too, they have to stay in their rooms regardless. I think it is good for all of us. The kids calm down, forget to fight, and enjoy their freedom once the hour is over. Pick and choose your battles my husband would say.I have the same dilemmas, and it is often patience I seek for every situation that comes my way. My husband is deployed, and I have long days. I scream, shout, and even say things I often regret, but I always try to make the next time better a little bit at a time. Life is hard, and things will be different tomorrow. Different, not always better. Thank goodness we adapt to change so well.

  13. This beautifully sums up my biggest failing.

    It’s a cliche, but life events in recent years shook my perspective to the core. I truly understood that my attitude colors whether an event is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. One day, losing my car keys isn’t a big deal, but another, it’s the end of the world. The only difference is my reaction.

    Still, it’s so difficult when ‘bad’ things accumulate. And lack of sleep: it can turn a perfectly lovely day into a challenge.

    So, that’s a long way of saying, I can relate. And I agree, you still are, all of us are, young enough to find a new path.

  14. There is in every woman’s heart a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity; but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity. – Washington Irving

  15. Thanks for the post. Pretty rotten day today and I’ve been so unhappy with the person I am on days like today. I appreciate your thoughts and it sure helps to know I’m not alone.

  16. If you ever get to wondering about the laundry in other homes again, for the record our clean clothes are piled, unfolded, on a chair in my bedroom, but the larger pile by far is the dirty clothes on the floor waiting to be sorted and washed in my bathroom.

    Hope that helps! 😉

  17. Sometimes I think everything goes wrong like that for some greater cosmic reason-figuring out what that reason is is always the hard part. I can’t believe you didn’t fall to sleep with Elizabeth…I know I would have. i ALWAYS had an afternoon nap on the couch when the kids were little. For the older ones it became their play quietly time while Mummy regains her sanity- I usually tried to squeeze it in while the younger ones napped- sometimes we’d all end up napping on the couch together. When those nap times fall away it all becomes exhausting especially when you’re in “your condition” (although I think any condition is hard to handle on not enough sleep.) As someone said in these comments; tomorrow is another day. And I actually think having a good rage at it all helps to just get it out.

  18. I’ve bee using the following mantra to get me threw some complicated days: If you can’t be thankful for what you got, be thankful for what you don’t got. Its really been helping. Love your blog.

  19. I’m with you ~ sometimes it is just more cathartic to surrender to the moment, however bad it is then try and change it.

    I hope the rest of your week finds things falling into place 🙂

  20. these days pop up, no matter how hard we try or how positive we are. they happen. and i think strength is not necessarily found in cleaning up that mess, or putting away every last piece of laundry, and making life ‘perfect’, but instead it’s found in perseverence and patience.i think we’re pushed to our personal limits for a reason, and we always learn from that.this is a lovely post, by the way. thank you for sharing.

  21. Beautiful post. Thank you for reminding us that we are not alone in our daily struggles of getting through this amazing, difficult, frustrating, beautiful life. Blessings!

  22. Molly, beautiful heartfelt post, revealing to us even more of that hidden beauty. A good rant, a good cry, no matter, tomorrow is a fresh day and in ? how long you will be gracing the world with another lovely human being? Cut yourself some slack Momma!

  23. molly-i came to your blog tonight (way past my bedtime) to read your old post about “a higher calling” because i remember really enjoying it. but i haven’t read it yet because i got to read this instead and i just had to comment and say thanks. thanks for sharing your bad day, and your thoughts, and your insights. it really is easier sometimes to be in a bad mood and curse it all…but it doesn’t change anything, and we’re called to do more than be in a bad mood. Sometimes I think we get to live for so many years because it takes that long to understand the things that seem so simple. Mothering is taking a toll on me lately and I feel like each day I could do better. I am thankful that God is full of Grace and Love and that he forgives my crankiness. Blessings to you!

  24. I bet you never thought that telling others about your challenges would be described as beautiful but it was.As someone who’s year has been full of these days, I totally appreciate what you are going through. I keep wishing the days to pass, but realize I’m wishing my days away which is kinda sad 🙁 I try to find the good in everyday, and usually find it staring back at me asking me for some coco or a book to be read 🙂

  25. I know those days, they are hard, being stripped hurts. Yet, as you’ve expressed, they aren’t wasted days or moments. They’re the moments that make us grow, help us to see our weakness, and our dependence on our maker. Our reserves do run dry, but His never do.

  26. thank you for this! it is something i will reflect on during those challenging moments. i too, was thinking yesterday while on a drive through the blue ridge mountains, a drive i do weekly, how all of a sudden all the leaves were gone, and there was so much beauty to be seen. beauty that i either have never really noticed or that ive forgitten about. i guess thats one of the wonderful things about the change in season.

  27. Oh, Molly your words were so touching and resonated so true.Just wanted to let you know your so not alone!And I don’t believe anyone could truthful claim to have never traveled that dumping road you talked about.We’ve all been down it and it seems such a lonely ride when we are.

  28. My girls enjoy catching patience in the air and giving it to me in little handfuls or, even, boxes. I gobble it up and feel better instantly. The girls enjoy this so much — makes them feel proactive. It never fails. Really. I often think it “might not work this time” but it’s pretty hard to resist!

  29. I would like to think that as my life is stripped bare with grief, that I could find grace and suppleness and beauty in the openness but I am not convinced. At this point, I can only deal with each day as it comes and if one more person says “Oh, Meowmie, you’re so strong”, I think I’ll scream.

  30. Oh i SO know how you feel. Life has been pretty much the same around these parts, things breaking, kids fighting etc etc.I hope things brighten up for you.xoxox

  31. man oh man is this perfect. seems we all know this feeling well – if only we could remember in the bad moments that we’re not alone. but no, we’re too busy imagining everybody else having perfect days in their perfect houses with their perfect families. thank you for your being honest molly.

  32. Here I sit, surrounded by legos and dirty dishes and crumbs on the floor and a sink that’s needed scrubbing for weeks, WEEKS. And my “great sleeper”? Waking up all night, every night, and up for the day by 5.

    Yeah, I know it will pass, but it’s a little stinky at present. But a little less so in good company.

    So timely, so beautiful. Thank you. ~Molly

  33. Thank you so much for this. I sat here with tears in my eye reading it, because you have described exactly how I feel lately. Maybe the change of seasons, I don’t know… Anyhow this made me feel okay again to know I am not the only one.

  34. Thank you, its nice to know that others experience the same daily battles. We too have a two year old who doesn’t sleep, a system that cannot handle the amount of laundry we produce, so it piles up, and smoke detectors that don’t want me to cook anything. To try not to feel overwhelmed I set one small goal per day and when I accomplish it I feel good about the day. Here’s to the possibilities of another day!

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