Monday, August 10, 2009

Watching

I heard an audio essay on NPR this week about the tendency of humans to naturally sleep in two shifts, especially when daylight hours are short. In between the two shifts was a wakeful period known as the Watch.

It's 3:50 in the morning and I'm awake. It's hot and humid, there are two other people in my bed, and my mind and heart are full. Not a good recipe for sleep.

I'm anxious about an upcoming change in my life. It's something I've been praying for and longing for, but now that it is almost upon me, I find myself feeling panicked and unprepared.

God has provided the opportunity for me to work from home. Instead of a Work Outside the Home Mom (WOHM), I'll be a Work at Home Mom (WAHM). Instead of going to an office every day for 6.5 hours to write proposals, I'll be able to record books for visually impaired students any time of day or night wherever I can plug in the tape recorder and microphone. What a blessing! What provision! I can be with my high-needs Pookaloo and meet her number one need (mama time) while being the one to give her the majority fo her discipline and training in the gentle style that I've been reading and writing about.

Currently I'm doing both jobs. I've found time after work and on weekends to complete 11 hours of recording. After Friday, I will no longer have an office to report to. My days will be my own. I can run errands, go on playdates, play with Pookaloo, start writing again, go to a daytime Bible study, keep up with the housework, join a moms group, volunteer with my church. What freedom! How overwhelming!

It terrifies me. What ifs flood my mind. What if I fail to thrive with the lack of an outside imposed structure? Wait. That sounds suspiciously like unrealistic expectations and negative thinking are at play here. What other lies am I telling myself? What is at the root of these fears?

I don't trust my ability to control myself and make wise choices about how to spend my time. What if instead of spending quality time with my baby girl I spend all day writing, cruising the internet? What if I end up horribly lonely and isolated because I don't have the built-in social outlet that my role as a WOHM provides? Alternatively, what if I spend too much of my time out of the house volunteering, going to Bible studies and at my mom's in my efforts to NOT be isolated? What if Pookaloo never naps and I end up not having enough time to do my WAHM job? Although my mom has expressed willingness/expectation to continue to babysit, part of me feels like that would be "cheating". Because I CAN be with Pookaloo 24/7, I SHOULD.

Boy, that is a lot of shoulds and what ifs.

Here are some of the beliefs implicit in that paragraph of fears:
  • Belief A: If I'm home, that means my house should be perfectly kept and my child should be perfectly cared for and my time should be managed perfectly. I already know I can't measure up to this, which means I will be unmasked as a "bad mother" and "bad wife"

Yes, I am imperfect. Yet, I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me. I will never be perfect, but I can walk moment by moment, pray continually for grace and let God take care of the results.

  • Belief B: I'm lazy, lack self control and don't do well without someone telling me what to do or at least some artificial time limits.

Why am I labeling myself so harshly? There's plenty of evidence that I'm not lazy: I'm training for a marathon, for one! My house is a little more messy than I like right now, which is probably contributing to this feeling. With the demands of two jobs and caring for Pookaloo, it's been a necessary sacrifice. But either way, my house is not me. It does not determine my value. I'm not a lazy person doomed to inactivity. I am a busy person who chooses among many good alternatives. Daily routines and straightening up make me feel better when I do them, and I will do the minimum necessary to keep sane this week and then get back to the bigger stuff after I get through this last difficult week. Give myself grace! I can use FlyLady's concept of 15 minute chunks to organize my day and give myself the "artificial time limits" I think I need.

  • Belief C: Pookaloo is so needy and demanding that I'm going to get burnt out and be unable to give her the gentle compassionate care she deserves and still balance her care with my WAHM job.

Possibly true. I don't believe God designed us to be super-moms, raising our kiddos alone. It takes a village sounds cliched, but it's true. There is no shame in having help and it's not all on me anyway. First and most important of all, I'm not a single parent! Next, there is my mom. Finally, I can join a mom's group and participate in other outside the home activities that will give Pookaloo the social and energy outlet she needs (and I need too!)

  • Belief D: I'm a friendless introvert and therefore will be horribly isolated without the built-in social opportunities of working outside the home.
This is ridiculous. There have been times in the past when I have been lonely and had few friends; this is not one of them. Besides connections at church, I have wonderful connections online with friends from previous phases of my life. I can make new friends through a local mom's group. Even without that, I will still see my mom frequently (see above).

It's now 4:40 and I don't feel closer to sleep. But I do have some arguments against the lies whispered in my ear and heart. The baby woke up, so I am called back to bed. If you think of it, pray for me during this time of adjustment.

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