Because I believe…

****This post, as usual, is longer than I set out for it to be. If you’re short on time, skip to the last paragraph- a summary of the whole shebang.

Sometimes- mid-diaper change, half stuck between the van and the garage wall, running towards a peeing baby who’s not wearing a diaper, or up late listening to sad screams, I wonder, “Am I making this harder than it has to be?” Yes, is the answer.

I use cloth diapers without owning a diaper sprayer or a cleaning service, which means I pick poo off the diaper and flick or flop it into the toilet, often getting it on my hands, and now, often while playing defense to the wee pooper himself who follows me into the bathroom. Cloth diapers are more difficult than paper diapers, but I like them for many reasons. Not using a liner, not using a rinsing sprayer, and not shutting the bathroom door behind me so Oaks can’t follow- those are just actions I take that make the day a little more challenging.

We bought a used mini-van and we want it to last a long time. Like all mini-vans made in the past decade, it has dual-sliding doors. Anything electronic or automatic on a car seems risky to me-  what if it stops working? The fix looms expensively in my imagination. My practice is to relegate the back seat passengers to using only one sliding door and using it sparingly. No extra opening or closing please. This means Eli and Andi crawl in and out under Oakley’s car seat- they don’t seem to mind and have been trained that we don’t “waste” door openings. I have been known to crawl back, unhook, and crawl back forward with baby in tow, just to avoid opening the door. While knocking my knee on the steering wheel and careening to make sure Oakley’s foot isn’t trapped in the console area, I think, “It doesn’t have to be this hard.”

Currently, Oaks has a diaper rash. I am year-round supporter of “air time” (buns sans diaper), and mandate it during a rash. The price I pay for “air time” ranges from a small pee puddle, to a smashed in poop pile that requires hours of carpet cleaning rounds, and a bath for a baby with poop foot. Once again, if I had just put a diaper on him, all crises averted.

Last night Oakley started crying at 11:05pm. Often we will binki him back to sleep right away. He’s not a great sleeper, never has been, and we are often inconsistent parent sleep trainers.  For some reason last night, it seemed like enough was enough and we resolved to let him cry it out. Oakley kept up a constant cry for over an hour, at which point it became intermittent, until it was all quiet at about one hour and 25 minutes. Parental agony. There are fewer things in my life as a parent that makes me feel as bewildered, frustrated, worried, defeated, very sad for my baby, and in complete question of all I know of limits and love.  It was really hard. Hard enough that after falling asleep at 12:30, he slept all the way until 7am.

Actions are motivated by deliberate choice or subconscious habit. We move through life on purpose and other times, without thought. Because I can get easily overwhelmed, I sometimes have to ask myself if it’s “worth it” to be doing what I’m doing. In addition to the occasions above, the question comes when:

-I’m raking my maintenance-free lawn for the third time this fall…leaves, they just keep falling.

-I’m up at 5:16am for Crossfit, scraping off the ice-caked windshield.

-I’m shopping at 3 grocery stores for the “best deals”

-I am trying to go to the bathroom or do my hair with 1-4 extra bodies in the bathroom (we have a “don’t lock the door with only family in the house” policy on our one, shared main floor bathroom)

-I’m making conversation with a teenager I don’t know at a Young Life event- while we’re both wearing tacky 80’s clothing.

-I’m rinsing out a peanut butter jar to recycle it

I don’t list this list because I’m better than anyone else or because my lifestyle befits any praise. I am simply reflecting that there must be some thing that directs my motivation. Why do I do things if they are difficult?

Sometimes the answer is clear:

-Raising children is difficult- It’s also wonderful, fun, and what God has given me to do…no real choice here in doing it or not doing it but plenty in how  I do it.

-The difficulty in Crossfit generates results. Intensity creates mind/body/muscle change, accelerates fitness.

-Making cookies from scratch is hard (hardER than buying them at least) but that’s what my mom always did and that’s what tastes the best.

-Living in my small house creates challenges but Drew and I agree this is our place to be until we can confidently move out and on.

-Having my neighbor kid over in the morning before the bus pick up raises the volume and chaos level from a 6 to a 9.5. But I say yes because I can offer my time and house to a friend who needs help. It costs me relatively nothing and affords her vocational sanity and less money spent on childcare. The 40 minutes of crazy can be hard but I believe I should say “Yes” to her request for help.

To do something difficult requires conviction. When I think over the list of what I do, over and over, that causes me angst, I can attest that I do those things because I believe the end is worth the means, the effort creates a desired outcome, the risk will make a reward, and the discomfort will produce something lasting, and shape me in the process. I think one of the most sure-fired ways to grow and develop is to do the very things we find difficult- the things we don’t want to do. When we push the margins of our experience, the limit of our limits, or the walls of our precious paradigms, we become more whole, more diversified in our health, our abilities, and our appreciation for others. Here’s to heavy buckets of recycling, long hours at the gym, deep agony over the development of a child, and persistent prayers for laying down my pride.



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