Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Normalcy?

After a marathon day it seems strange not to be double tasking. I keep thinking I should be running about like a chicken with its head cut off. Letting go of the crazy pace seems alien and yet I dislike being rushed- a perplexing state. It makes me wonder how my husband will transition from military life to civilian life (one of these days anyway) when the pace is not 24:7. I can't be the only one used to these hyperdrive days and then has trouble transitioning back to normalcy. As if there is normalcy in the day in the life of a mama.

A particular friend often chats with me about the frustration of being a mother of young children. It is a shocking transition in life to go from regularity, your own agenda, late night dinners, sleeping in on weekend mornings, actually reading newspapers, discussing movies, a job where you are paid for your labors and people listen to you and even do what you ask, to life where I wake up before any job I ever had, no one listens to me without a fair amount of repetition, sleep intervals are interrupted (even after the baby stage) whether from nightmares, accidents, or sickness, and your needs to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom are at least third on the list in priority. I understand her pain. When I first had kids I kept wanting to talk about this. I was in such shock. No one else seemed interested in the discussion and so for that reason I am willing to engage my friend. She can't understand why every mother isn't talking about this. My own hard earned wisdom is that you finally realize it just isn't going to go away and you have to put your energy into managing the lives entrusted to you- some of us have the need to discuss it more than others, but ultimately, you just have to do it. Some where along the way the humor and the craziness of it all absorb you and feed your soul in new ways, but it can be tough.

When I climbed Mt. Fuji at the end of last summer, I willed myself to put one foot in front of another and turned off my mind as my mind kept saying things like, "this hurts," "I can't do this," and "I want to stop." I thought of elephant feet plodding along and stomping on the mountain path. "Clomp, clomp," I went with my hiking boots. I stopped thinking. "Clomp, clomp," helped in a way my busy calculating mind could not. When I swam in high school it happened too- my mind would disassociate from my body. My body does the work and my mind shuts down and all I feel or think is the physical motion. It is a strange state of being and hard to get into. It has to be something physically challenging or sometimes in meditation, but in this place my mind shuts up so I can do the work. I think motherhood, at least some of the time, is like that. I shut down my mind that is whining about my "no me time" and just do the work. Sometimes I whine later, but in the moment I just do the work. Half the battle is staying calm and not being blown over by the chaos! Parenting is not for the faint-hearted. The more I just do the work, the more I am able to accept it. Is it "Stockholm syndrome" to bear a huge load and never complain? I wonder more parents don't talk about this.

I think living in Japan has helped me with bearing motherhood with more grace. In many ways my life is quieter here. I don't work at the hospital and juggle the commute and the sitter and the school, I don't have much chance for idle chit chat in English, and my time is spent in a multitude of mindless tasks from laundry to cooking to cleaning. It is also quiet around where I live compared to living in Eastern Market in Washington, DC. There are a lot of people in Japan, but mostly I have noticed if I look up from the people toward the sky line at least in Kamakura I see hillsides covered in trees and birds in the sky so nature seems just right there. I don't feel hemmed in by a big city, and I can quietly go through my day. It always surprises me that I feel I never get enough quiet. I think sometimes I was meant for a less exciting life. This one, sometimes, exhausts me.

One day, I'd like to try a silent retreat where by you don't talk for ten days. I read about it with a meditation practice. It sounded like heaven to me to just experience quiet and see what your mind comes up with. It seems like during the life of a mother of young children this could be so helpful for restoring tranquility and ease of mind.