I have multiple drafts of things I’ve written but discarded or forgotten on my phone and laptop. I keep an ongoing list of possible topics for future writings. Sometimes I fail to include enough information leaving me to wonder what I was hoping to remember when I revisit the list. For example, my current list of topic prompts is as follows:
- pervert squirrel/possible psychosis
- lifetime realities
- misplaced anger
- local restaurant
- flaming pizza
While I recall what three of the nine prompts refer to, I have no earthly idea what I was intending to write with the others. (I’ll leave you, the reader, to wonder which of this list could show up in a future entry.) These forgotten essays perfectly demonstrate a strength and a weakness I have. I am a creative thinker and often come up with great (in my opinion) ideas. However, I often lack follow through. I used to spend all of my extra spending money on craft supplies. I threw my efforts into preparing to become a clay sculptor and a seamstress. I bought items to embroider, glass to etch, scrapbooks to personalize, and metal to personalize with vinyl. I went through a period in which I intended to create door wreaths to sell and another period of designing garden flags. Cards were stamped but never sent, homemade paper was made but never used, and wire was ready to sculpt. I collected the supplies, dreamed of the projects, but never fully committed. Each venture began with a whirlwind of creative energy but fizzled out once I had to complete the project because the brainstorming and dreaming that I love was now over.
Ironically, although I flit from project to project, I don’t like the feeling of having something undone. I hate opening a closet and seeing incomplete or untouched projects sitting on the shelf. Every time I spot the incomplete advent calendar that is hidden in a dresser cabinet, I resolve to have it completed within the next month. That advent calendar has been in progress for 6 years.
Those who know Trey and I well would likely chuckle at the fact that the thing that drives me craziest about my husband is when he begins a home improvement project but then moves onto another project before completing the first. In fact, I believe I’ve written past blogs about having a toilet on our front porch due to a lengthy bathroom remodel. (Update: the bathroom is completed and glorious!)
Logan and Jack are 6 and a half years apart. After we had Logan, Trey and I knew that we wanted two more children. My pregnancy, labor, and delivery experience with Logan was difficult and traumatic. I wasn’t in a big hurry to repeat the process and when I became ready, it seemed like life kept getting in the way. Trey and I waited out another deployment, multiple moves, unemployment, financial challenges, and anxiety before Jack decided to make his appearance. From the moment that I learned i was pregnant with Jack, I felt as though something was missing. This feeling left me consumed with guilt. I loved and still love Jack with all of my being. How could I not believe that he was enough? My maternity leave was spent trying to find a balance between my newfound love for this new child and overwhelming feelings of sadness, anxiety, and shame. I recognized that people I love are praying fervently for one child while I was holding a perfect child and yet wanting more. I worried that I would never feel satisfied and also worried that if we never had a third child, that I would be forever left with this awful feeling of leaving things incomplete. I cried countless tears over having to return to work because I felt so unsettled and depressed.
I wrote the following a little over a year ago:
I’m 36 years old. Some days I feel like I’ve lived an eternity and others I look around and feel like an imposter playing house. I hold my kids and wonder who let me be responsible for these precious lives. There are days that I can’t shake the idea that I’m missing something. Trey patiently rides the waves of my anxiety that I’ve chosen the wrong career, I was called to do something different with my life, concerns that we will “never” reach goals we’ve set as a couple, or assumptions that I’m failing he and the kids. Don’t get me wrong, I know I have a great life. I have a career that is fulfilling and challenging. My husband loves me and endulges my eccentricities. Logan and Jack adore me and make me proud every nano second. We are a part of a church community that enriches not only our lives but our community. Trey and I are surrounded by friends that make us laugh, challenge us to be better people, and pick us up when we are down. We both come from supportive, loving extended families that remain invested in our lives. I have plenty of stuff. While we never feel as though we have enough money, we are able to pay our bills and support ourselves, something we haven’t always been able to do. Trey came home from Iraq, physically whole and ready to move on.
And yet, something always feels missing or incomplete. Its hard to put into words what this feels like. Sometimes I wonder if the missing piece is a spiritual deficit and so I pray. Other times I feel as though I am grieving a child that I have never conceived. I am scared that these feelings will never cease and that I’ll forget how to breathe.
Trey and I talked in depth about whether or not a third child was in our future and considered it for a period of time. I worried that the desire for another child was similar to my project planning and that should I add another child to the family, I’d continue to be left with the feeling of being incomplete because it was less about the child and more about me not being in a state of personal health. Not long after I wrote the words shared above, my heart began to feel less burdened and I began to feel more at ease. The change came slowly but was welcomed. I remember looking across the table at Logan, Trey, and Jack and knowing that I had what I needed and that I could choose to move on from feeling incomplete. Trey and I began talking about purchasing a bigger camper and began planning future family adventures. Life can be funny. Just as I came to change my focus, we discovered that I was pregnant. Throughout the pregnancy I felt like I was in a state of shock and was utterly terrified that once the baby was born the pains of feeling incomplete would still be there. When people asked if I was excited, I’d fake an appropriate response while attempting to ignore the doubts in my heart. Trey and I agreed this would definitely be our last child and scheduled a vasectomy before my due date. I spent time meditating on and praying for peace of heart and for the depressive fog to stay away. I didn’t want to spend another maternity leave and another few years fighting those feelings.
April 18, 2016 I met the newest love of my life. I have written and rewritten multiple drafts trying to accurately capture the feelings I felt looking at Norah’s sweet face. In addition to the flood of love for her, I felt my love multiple for Trey, Logan, and for my silly Jack. I return to work in a week. Part of me is dreading my return because I know I’ll have less uninterrupted time with all three of my kids. However, unlike either of the other returns from maternity leave, I am excited to go back. I can’t wait to establish our new routine, our new normal. I know with my entire being that my family is complete. I feel utterly satisfied and complete. My typical anxiety over how we will manage our money, time, and energy remains but no longer do I wonder if I’m ever going to feel complete.
I will certainly dream of more projects that will end up incomplete on a closet shelf or under the bed, but I know that my family is complete. Our best adventures are yet to come.