And by she, I mean me.
Seven-and-a-half years ago, Greg and I got married. Immediately we got into ministry and all that goes with it. Three months after the wedding, I got pregnant. Jaana was born two weeks after our first anniversary.
I had a hard time adjusting to being a newlywed, a pseudo-pastor’s wife and pending mom all at once. Looking back on it now, I’m pretty sure I was suffering from a few panic attacks and some depression. But I told myself to “Suck it up! It’s just a little stress, but it’s good stress.”
While we were engaged, and all throughout the first year of marriage, we both worked at the same church. Once Jaana was born, I continued to work and was able to do a part at home/part at the office schedule. My job and responsibilities fluctuated a few times, but I was glad to be able to be home as much as I could. That first year of her life was stressful, but manageable.
As she got older though, it got harder and harder working from home. My job had changed and I was basically on-duty 24/7...weekends, nights, etc. Yes, I was so fortunate to be able to not have to send her to day care. But when I was home, I wasn’t “home.” I was constantly navigating the work-mode / mom-mode and really struggling with it. I felt like I never gave 100% to anyone. It was an incredibly stressful time, yet I couldn’t quit because financially we needed my income.
If I took Jaana to the park, I was constantly on the BlackBerry. If I wanted to go work out, I’d pray I didn’t miss a phone call from the boss (which I did, often). If I took a shower, I’d watch the red light flash on the BlackBerry indicating there were who-knew-how-many emails I was missing. It was a constant state of anxiety.
In addition to all of that, I was also the girl who would not speak her mind, communicate frustrations or say no to anything. Out of a sense of obligation, I agreed to many things that were time-suckers, peace-stealers and stress-inducers. Most of the things I agreed to were out of my skill set and talents. But because I couldn’t say no, I’d carry all that additional baggage with me. My time was no longer my own. And it stayed that way for five and-a-half years.
When we moved here to the mountains, I immediately experienced a sense of freedom. I was given the opportunity to be able to focus on staying home and doing freelance work. And while I know Greg would never turn down additional income, I haven’t pursued freelance work with guns blazing because I’ve still been a bit stressed. Six weeks after we moved here I had Paxton, then experienced postpartum depression. In the nine months that have followed, we’ve moved three times.
Call me weak, a wuss or whatever you want to...but man, I’m tired! It’s been a long seven and-a-half years. They’ve been equally wonderful and if it weren’t for my husband Saint Greg, I would be a mumbling heap in the corner. But it’s been a lot. And I’m finally admitting that to myself.
Because of my pleasing nature, there have been many instances since we moved here where I have been thisclose to volunteering myself for things that I don’t want to do; serving in areas that I don’t feel called; involving myself in groups I have no desire to be in. It comes with the territory of being a woman (and a pastor’s wife), I’m sure. But right before I raise my hand or click “send,” I’ve stopped myself. And the reason is this: I just really, really don’t want to be that busy. And finally, for the first time ever in my life, I’m totally and completely unapologetic about it.
I could care less about finding my worth in a job. It matters none to me to find purpose in tangible work. I could care less about being involved in something to get accolades from others or to be a good example. Really, all I want to do for this season in life is be present. I want to be all in as Greg’s wife. I want to be a mom 100%. I want to work out regularly, write when I feel like it and that’s it. (And maybe shop a little here and there as the working out takes effect, of course.)
And if anyone has a problem with it, I have just two words:
Greg deserves a wife who supports him unequivocally and loves him unconditionally, without stressing out on the computer each night. Jaana deserves a mom who will play paper dolls and school with her without answering emails. Paxton deserves a mom that takes him for walks in the stroller and lets him get messy without worrying about the time it will take to clean up. And I deserve me time to get healthy physically and mentally. Outside of these things, I’ll give any extra time to the things closest to my heart and will do so willingly and with joy, and have. But that’s it.
And everything else will just have to wait awhile.
I sat down to write all this as a way for me to process through what happened today. (It’s my own personal therapy, writing is.) I was washing dishes in the sink and thought back to that newlywed girl who couldn’t say no. Who felt pressure to be someone she wasn’t. And I started to compare her with the girl who was now washing dishes with joy, planning to pick up her daughter from school and play at the park. Who wears workout clothes and a baseball hat as her uniform each day, and is probably too much of an open book with everyone. And my heart just got really full, because I’m starting to be very, very okay with who I am; with who God made me to be. It’s taken a lot of years, tears, stretching and praying to feel that way.
But I’m sorta, kinda proud of myself for getting here.
And much, much, MUCH more thankful to God for His help along the way.
“And all the trees will know that it is I, the Lord, who cuts the tall tree down
and makes the short tree grow tall. It is I who makes the green tree wither and
gives the dead tree new life. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do what I said!”
(Ezekiel 17:24, NLT)