The day after the babies left, I did precisely nothing productive. I took Bootsy to the pool and when we came home, we dropped our things right in the middle of the kitchen floor and they stayed there. I scrolled Facebook. I ate ice cream. I played five hours of Nintendo. By myself.
Rod said I needed that, and I shouldn’t feel bad, and you know what? He didn’t even need to say that. I didn’t feel one whiff of badness.
Over the next week, I “quieted the house”. I sorted through ALL the things we had out for the babies. I took apart cribs and washed car seats and high chairs. I re-sorted the clothes we already had into little bags for future children. I moved toys and baby books to the attic. I cleaned all the carpets (because diapers) and cleared off all the surfaces that had collected junk over the last four months. Even decorative things. I just put everything away, behind closed doors so that my eyes and my mind could have some extra space.
Then we went to Illinois. To my parents’ house. To home. We spent the last 11 days there and it was so beautifully restful that I cried this morning when it was time to come back to Kalamazoo.
We went to Illinois with the purpose of pushing the reset button. We had just spent four months caring for two precious babies, and we were sleepy and frazzled and sad and feeling a bit beat up. We needed to relax. And I needed my mom.
I can’t think of a time we have ever had such a long period of serious, intentional rest. Guys. It was SERIOUS.
We woke up late and drank coffee slow. We read fiction books made for middle schoolers. We played cards. We discovered Downton Abbey. We went to a fancy movie theater. We took a boat ride down the river to the evening farmers market. We ate whatever we wanted – brownie ice cream and fire-roasted pizza and cheesy hash browns and wild rice and homemade garlic bread and vegan burgers and lemon cookies and chili cheese Fritos and dad’s guacamole and roasted veggies grown on my parents’ land.
We played with kittens in the barn. We let the dogs wrestle. We pulled our car over in an alfalfa field and sat on the hood and watched the sun go down slow and silent as if we were watching a movie. We went fishing and water skiing. We practiced riding Bootsy’s new skateboard. We sat in lawn chairs in the garage and watched thunderstorms rolling in and then back out again. We took naps.
We worshipped in my Rockford church and we hugged old friends. We shared meals and hours with so many people we love that when I think back to our first nights there, I can’t believe how full 11 days can feel.
And I can’t figure out how to tell you exactly what all of that did for us – the day-wasting and house-quieting and home-resting. I’m in my own living room now. It’s quiet and clean. And I feel heart-healed and bright-eyed and ready to start the next chapter.
It’s not that my feelings about the previous chapter are all neatly buttoned up and tucked away like the toys in the attic. I still feel sad and worried and relieved and excited and all the thousands of other feelings I felt about those sweet babes. But now that we set aside time to think and cry and relax and have fun, I feel like I have permission from myself to begin the next new normal. My family took good care of us these last couple weeks, and honestly, we took good care of ourselves. And now, by God’s goodness, I find myself turning my eyes outward again. Searching for someone else who might need a harbor in the storm and hoping I can find a way to provide it.
Photo by Brian Wolfe(y)