The State of the Ellie: November 2017
Welcome to the State of the Ellie post, my monthly
overshare life recap!
Okay, so I stared at an empty post for a good hour trying to remember how to do this. It’s hard after so long of not talking frankly and frequently about what’s up on this side of the screen. I feel like I need to tell you the backstory of every little detail–a process for which neither of us has time. It’s also hard because everything in my life is all up in everything else’s business, which makes it hard to break into clear categories for examination.
So let’s just dive in, shall we? I’ll tell you what’s up as if we talk all the time, then if you want to know more, just ask.
Baby: This is all you really want to know about, isn’t it? So, it’s been a little over a month since my childcare provider closed her business, and it’s been a bumpy adjustment for Mack and me (hey, we should make a movie). I want to stay home and write; she wants to go out and play. She’s almost 18 months old, which means she needs a lot more activity and interaction and has Opinions About Things like going to bed and why she should be allowed to eat cat food. I’m pretty sure she’s hit the 18-month sleep regression, plus getting more teeth (we’re at 14/20). There’s daily tension. But! We’re lucky to have a PFLC nearby, so we “go to school” almost every day. She’s getting into painting (on paper and herself), lacing string, and eating other people’s snacks. The brace is off, but she isn’t walking yet, which means she’s limited, but she’s VERY MOTIVATED, and I’m sure she’ll be running by Christmas. She’s also starting to pretend (she was making airplane noises while flying around a (clean) diaper) and getting SO MANY WORDS (October’s include “love you,” “stinky,” “notebook,” and “Grover”), which is super cool. I look at her every once in a while and see the kid she’s turning into instead of the wee baby I think of her as most of the time. Parenthood continues to be bittersweet.
Health: This has been…not awesome. I try not to think about it because it freaks me out–it’s always been something or other, but now it’s a lot of somethings at once. The steady inflammation and mucus production from the mold and mildew in our apartment has given me tonsil stones and a borderline sinus infection; the debilitating gut attacks seemed to have stopped after I got an IUD in September, but I had two attacks in one week in October, so maybe it’s not working after all; and then there’s the perpetual mobility issues, spanning a hip bursitis, rock hard IT bands, irritated SI joints, and a godawful crunch in both my knees. It adds up to living with chronic pain (again), the runs, and more than the usual amount of exhaustion. BUT. We’re moving, the IUD isn’t 100% yet, I have a back MRI scheduled, and I can see a doctor whenever I want (I’m eternally grateful for the Canadian healthcare system), so it’ll be okay.
Writing: Man, I don’t know. At the beginning of October, I revised my work schedule to accommodate for losing my dedicated writing time, but I honestly haven’t written one word of fiction (and barely any posts) since then. I’m committed to doing Apple of Chaos in some form, if only to give us all a sense of completion, but because writing needs time and space and I have little if any these days, it’s just not happening. I’m also feeling an increasingly strong pull back to what I think of as my writing roots: vulnerable, soul-aware, navel-gazing essays and thinky/feely things. There’s a secret dream in my heart that’s being nudged awake and needs that kind of writing to be alive again in order to become real, but it is so desperately scary for me because it means writing plainly about my Christianity, which is fraught, to say the least, these days. This all adds up to conflicting feelings and plans about how to go forward with my writing, and I’m having trouble untangling it all. One thing is crystal clear, though: God is invested in what I write. I just have to scrape together the courage to do what I know I’m being asked to do.
Spirituality: Speaking of the Lord… This last month or so has been a season of trial, heavy with the kind of chaos that comes from having to be patient while you wait for pieces to move that you can’t control. God’s stretching me in ways I don’t like but, as God tends to do, they’re ways I need to go. He’s challenging me about gossip, sarcasm, isolation, embracing motherhood, obedience, and trust while waiting. Some of it is gentle nudges: Did you need to drop that person’s name in this story? Are that many details really necessary? Some of it is bricks to the head: Why are you ashamed to talk about me? If childrearing is all you ever have, would that be enough? God likes to double down; when you’re struggling in the natural, he asks you to fight in the spiritual. It sucks, but it works. Going through this has brought me closer to him as I ask for forgiveness, wisdom, patience, boldness, and an all-round better heart. I’d been missing the fervor of my first year as a believer, and I feel like I’m getting a taste of it again. What’s great about finding it in a time of trial rather than a time of joy is that I’m (mostly) mature enough in my faith that I know there’s not just good stuff on the other side of this, but there’s good stuff in it, too.
Social: This last month has felt weirdly busy. Aside from keeping Mack entertained all day, I’m also taking a biblical studies course, attend corporate prayer, and go to a friend’s house once a week for laundry and chats. We also had like three dinner parties, AND I saw three shows in October–The Wiggles (which was AMAZING), #imomsohard (you need to see this), and Rend Collective (my vote for Best Worship Band of All Time)–which I think is a personal record. That adds up to a lot of human interaction for this introvert! I’ve told God repeatedly that Mommy needs a break, though those prayers are met with what I believe is cosmic chuckling. Fortunately, all three of us are headed to Kansas City for American Thanksgiving, which I’m determined will be fun and relaxing, dammit.
Personal: I could write a lot of wank here, but honestly, it would all boil down to three words: tired but hopeful. Between fruitless house hunting, Lino’s job being borderline abusive, my poor health, financial crisis after financial crisis, and nonstop babying, plus the holidays looming, I’ve been doing a lot of emotional labor, and I’m starting to wear down. Sadly, I don’t have the option of holing up and waiting for it to pass the way I used to, and I also don’t want to force outcomes and end up veering wildly from where I want to be just because I’m impatient. Holding still without opting out is exhausting. I admit that, although I think I’d die if anything fatal happened to Mackenzie, I frequently daydream about how much simpler life would be without her. That probably makes me a bad mom, but it’s the truth. What’s crazy, though, is that when someone asks how I’m doing, all those things are sloshing around in my head but don’t come to mind. There’s a baseline peace and gratitude in me somewhere that can legitimately say, “I’m good! How are you?” and be willing to bear another person’s burden for a little while. Despite my tendency to worry and wish for other than I have, I’m not beaten down the way I would’ve been a couple of years ago. I know this season isn’t forever, that this time isn’t wasted, and greater things are on the other side. Getting my focus off myself and putting it elsewhere (helping someone else find a house, sending my husband Supernatural GIFs in the middle of the day, boo-ing with Mackenzie instead of trolling Facebook) makes a huge difference and helps me take each day as it comes, knowing that it’s a little closer to the end of the trial.