Weakness and strength – Part 1
All these aches and pains, changes in birth plans, shots and blood draws that have been going on lately have brought to the surface something I’ve always been aware of but never cared enough to do anything about: I’m a pretty weak person, mentally as well as physically.
This first started coming to the forefront of my consciousness last year. My son was more than a year old and had never slept through the night and the fatigue was really getting to me. We also had some very stressful situations playing out at our business, were in a precarious financial position, and I was still adjusting to not being in control of my own household (we lived with my mother, as we still do). I was grouchy. A lot. Some days I would wake up (always exhausted) and the baby would be in a bad mood and I had a bunch of stuff on my to-do list that probably wouldn’t get done and I didn’t want to do anyway and I would just look around and think, “This sucks!” I didn’t even know what I meant by “this,” I guess just life in general.
This is about the time that we hired a good family friend to babysit my son while I worked for the business. Her daughter often dropped her off at our house and would come in to say hello. Every time they walked through the front door it was like a breath of fresh air. I would hear the beep beep beep of the alarm announcing the open door and then their boisterous, happy exclamations in Spanish as they called out to let us know they were here. They were both always so cheerful and upbeat, it was hard not to cheer up just being around them. They’re both devout Catholics, and absolutely glow with the presence of Christ.
Through our brief morning chats I got to know her daughter better, and was surprised at what I learned. Her son, who is the same age as mine, also didn’t sleep through the night. In fact, he woke up more often than DB. She made her living cleaning houses and packed in as many houses as she could, often working from early morning until late at night. Like many traditional Mexican families, her husband expected a homecooked meal on the table every night with no exceptions, so as soon as she walked through the door after a long day of cleaning houses she immediately started cooking, then was solely responsible for cleaning up the kitchen, getting the kids ready for bed, and various other household duties. She usually couldn’t get to bed until close to midnight, the baby would wake up many times in the night, and she had to rise early every morning to get her oldest son ready for school. Obviously naps were an unknown concept to her. She also had some stressful personal problems on top of that.
She never complains. The facts she focuses on are that she is blessed to have enough work to do and at least her children are healthy. So often I would be sulking on the couch, thinking about how exhausted I was, when she would breeze through the door like a breath of fresh air, inquiring after my wellbeing and talking about how cute my son is. I’m sure she has her down moments, and puts her best foot forward in public, but still, there is a distinct difference in her approach to daily life and mine.
I’ve thought about this difference a lot over the past couple of weeks. For a while the pain in my leg was clearly debilitating, but this past weekend it started to subside somewhat, and there was a gray area period where it wasn’t clear if it was really so bad that I couldn’t keep up with my daily activities, or perhaps if I wasn’t such a wimp I could suffer through it.
I always seem to feel more low-energy than everyone else around me. If I’m walking through the house and see something that should be picked up and put away I walk right by it to do it later because *sigh* I just don’t feel like it right now. I never push myself physically and am baffled by my friends who run marathons and climb things to prove to themselves that they can do it.
I’m not a whiner when it comes to what I say to other people, but I’ve realized lately that my internal dialogue involves a lot of whining. “I’m too tired,” “I can’t,” “I really don’t feel up to it today,” and “That’s too hard” are all things I say to myself silently all the time (oh…and let’s not forget “It’s too hot”!)
So I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about why I do this and what I can do to change it. I don’t want to be such a wimp. I know what the answer is — get off your butt and toughen up — but that’s like telling someone who’s overweight to just eat less. Would that it were that easy to implement.
I’ve come up with some interesting answers that, like so many other things, come back to faith and God and what you perceive to be the meaning of life. I’ll go into that in part 2 of this post. I’ll end this one here since it’s already so long, and to avoid being crushed under the weight of the irony that I’m sitting in front of my computer writing a blog post about how I sit around too much.