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It's All In My Head

alec vanderboom

Yesterday, I had a terrible, awful, no good, very bad day.

It started with a mad scramble to get my family to the bus stop in time for my early morning sonogram appointment. Since pregnancy, stuffy allergy symptoms, and an 800 yard dash go so well together, I no sooner grabbed a seat on the bus then I launched into a major coughing attack. My coughs were so forceful that I split my right contact in half! The rest of the 25 minute bus ride, I spent holding my spasming eye in a make shift pirate patch.

When we got to the doctors office, I could only fish out one half of my contact in dim lighting of the public restroom. The other half remained stubbornly lost somewhere behind my upper eyelid.

In the sonogram room, I looked at the pretty, emotional pictures of my youngest daughter with one eye winced closed. I felt like "pirate" mommy.

By the end of the hour and half sonogram appointment, a second bus ride, and my still painful right eye, I returned home at 10:30 AM completely exhausted. Of course, since my husband took off for my morning appointment, his boss now required him to work until 8 PM. (I affectionately call my husband, "my Bob Cratchett"). I watched my husband walk out of our front door with a mixture of sadness and dread.

The next ten hours were totally awful. I read every crazy suggestion on the internet for how to remove a stuck contact. I only succeeded in making my eye super irritated and possibly infected. My poor kids were left alone to watch hours of junk TV.

My husband was over the moon with our new daughter news. Jon kept calling me from work with sweet phone calls. I said all the right words back, but inside I had a hard time connecting the fluttering in my stomach with the motions of a real, live human being. Every time I tried to talk to the baby my attention kept getting redirected to the screaming toddler, the "I'm so bored" son, my aching back and my throbbing right eye.

Finally, at 2 PM, I yanked myself out of bed. I took the kids on a mile bike ride to eat Chocolate Chip Cookies at the Corner Bakery, find Book 2 of "How to Train Your Dragon" and buy a new lamp at Target.

Somewhere in Target, Alex managed to loose his bike helmet. We spent an hour retracing our steps and checking the "Lost and Found" box, before I spent an extra $26.99 to get him a new one.

My husband came home at 8:08 PM and we all ate some of my burnt chicken casserole. Then, I fell asleep at 8:35.

This morning, I woke up at 3:00 AM, when a toddler climbed into my bed. I tried to go back to sleep on our bedroom floor. My eye hurt and I went into the bathroom to try again to fish out the broken pieces of my contact lens. My frantic prayers to St. Jude and St. Lucy yield no results.

Finally, I staggered into my living room under my make-shift prayer alter. I reminded myself that when I can't sleep, I should try to pray my Carmelite half and hour of quiet prayer immediately, rather than waiting for my regular prayer time at 6 AM. I set the kitchen timer for 32 minutes with a feeling of quiet dread.

For me, praying is similar to swimming. There are times when my prayer is an effortless as a smooth back stroke. There is a frantic dog-paddling when I can barely get my head above water. Last night's 4 AM prayer session was definitely "dog paddle" prayer.

My intense anxiety felt like a form of spiritual asthma. I couldn't catch my breathe. Everything seemed wrong and overwhelming. I didn't know how I'd get to an urgent care appointment for my eye with three young kids in tow. I had no idea how I was going to get through the next 18 weeks of pregnancy . . . and another c-section recovery . . . the overwhelming newborn stage afterwards.

In the middle of this attack, I kept trying to redirect my thoughts to God. I tried to focus on something higher than all this muck I was currently feeling. I tried to give thanks for my beautiful new baby and my beautiful, overwhelming life.

My prayer session at 4:00-4:30 AM this morning stunk. God didn't care.

At 5:00 AM, on the way back to bed, I stopped by the bathroom. After 21 hours, my lost contact finally appeared. I removed it from my eye with relief.

My husband woke me up at 6:00 AM to say my Daily Office. Dispute my lack of sleep, I was cheerful at the breakfast table.

Since that time, I've been on fire. For the first time in two weeks, my sciatic nerve pain is gone. This morning, I put a simple dinner together in our crockpot. It was so wonderful to be up and about in the kitchen again that I felt like Julie Child. Since then, I've worked steadily on my long to do list. It's amazing but the stuff that seemed totally overwhelming at 4 AM this morning is slowly getting finished.

I hope I remember in the future, that whenever I hate my life, it's all in my head.

My work load stays the same everyday as a mother. The kids stay the same. No matter how long my to do list is, by God's grace it does eventually get finished.

My job most important job in life is to keep an level head and keep praying so matter how high the waves seem to crash over my head.