Journey Mama

Why, exactly, is it so hard to pack for a trip when you have kids? It's like trying to put the carrot back together after you've juiced it. I remember, after I had Kid A, thinking that birth had done something to my brain. I couldn't collect my thoughts, couldn't figure out how to get out the door without melting down. Now, three years later, I am mostly better, but let me know that we're leaving for a week and pandemonium sets in. I can leave for the day easy-peasy, (although every so often I get really confident and leave something behind that's as important as, say, diapers) but the longer trips have me stumped.

Chinua and I left for San Francisco earlier today. Yay! We're on a kind of journey. We have work to do in the city, people to meet with, and a wedding to attend and photograph next weekend. Once we were on the road it was great. The kids were angels in the car, with barely any crying, barely any protests like, "Mom, I don't want this piece of the seat to touch meeee..." We set our faces like flint, with the In 'N' Out Burger as our destination. Now that we live at the Land, Double-doubles are rare treats, with their rarity making them all the more precious.

But, this morning, packing in the rain, I nearly had a panic attack. Chinua had to stand in front of me with his hands on my shoulders, instructing me to breathe. It's a problem I've had for a long time, but over the last few months it's been better. It's the feeling that when I am doing something, I really should be doing something else. Torturing myself this way for hours, I used to wander around the flat in San Francisco flitting from office work to kitchen dishes to laundry in my room. I never felt okay doing anything. It was a terrible kind of guilt. Something else is more important than what I am doing right now, and I should be doing that. It is only recently that I have realized that this not a healthy or normal way to live. Lately things have been better. I try to finish things I start, try to be peaceful making breakfast when it's time to make breakfast, paying bills when it's time to pay bills. I try to keep my time with the kids and time in the office separated, so that I'm not doing too many things at once.

Today, though, I would put a piece of kids clothing into a backpack and then jump up to wash a dish and then brush one tooth, before I realized that the kids were not even dressed yet. And all the while, the mantra going on in my head... WE NEED TO LEAVE WE NEED TO LEAVE. It's enough to make you insane.

I really admire the people in my life who have good focus. They seem to get more done than anyone else, rather than less. Like my husband, for example, who is a kind of guitar virtuoso. I wasn't around when he was getting where he was with it, but I know that it came out of obsessive hours and hours of practice. I know this because it's the same way he learned how to juggle. I would wake up at 4:00 AM, alone in our bed, and wander out to the living room to find him. Sure enough, there he was, juggling, wild eyed and exhausted. He just gets stuck. It's the reason he plays guitar like a master and juggles fire like a pro.

It's probably good that between the two of us, there's a happy medium. But, after today, I realize that I want a return to the peaceful focus that God has begun to cultivate in me. Speaking of peace, we're staying with a friend right now who must be one of the most peaceful individuals in the world. I say this because he spends the majority of his time alone, working at home doing some kind of trading or something, playing his own guitar for hours on end.

This wouldn't work for me.

My mind is such a terrible place to be, alone, for hours. I really am a hermit who needs other people to keep me sane. And speaking of my mind, I was relieved to find out that I am not dying of cancer, as I was secretly imagining. All my lightheartedness over my biopsy and the impending results was a fairly well-constructed wall against the fear of the worst case scenario. But, the lump is benign and although they want to take it out (I still don't really know what it is) they will wait until this little Muffin is born. Praise God.