My hours of chaplaincy ended today with grief, as is often the case, but the purpose this time was making meaning and finding purpose in what is most important.
I was asked the question, “if your house was on fire, and you could only grab three things, what would you take?”
Choosing Nathan is easy enough, but that leaves two things and I have six children.
Six children and not enough arms.
Nathan, I say, and my girls and my boys.
Does that work? Can that count? Is it cheating? Does it matter?
And if they are what is most important in my life, then when am I always leaving without them?
This season of working a job while finishing residency has been very hard on all of us. I think getting a nanny is the only reason Nathan is actually still alive. But throwing a new adult into the mix has stirred up the worst in all the children, and only proved to us that their attachment was healing and growing only because we were doing it all ourselves.
The good news? It means we really are making a difference.
The bad news? Nothing really can replace that.
Even for free.
It’s the little things, as it turns out, that mean everything.
Our relationships are built through the experiences that annoy and exhaust and frustrate us, just as much as the things that please and refresh and nurture us.
We need each other, and nothing replaces that.
So in the end, the great nanny experiment, which everyone always told us we needed, didn’t work for us at all. It took an entire month of background checks and interviews to even find one for keeps, and then we still went through three to find one who showed up most of the time but not always. The best time saving use was for helping with transportation, and if we had a reliable one on time we would still use a nanny for some of that.
Our favorite, though, was just getting babysitters for going out on dates without the children.
Except they were terrible every time, so it wasn’t much fun and too high a price to pay.
So while something different may work for your family, what works for our family is just doing it on our own, however exhausting, and enjoying date nights at home for this season of young children.
Because it is true, in fact, that date nights are non-negotiable.
I learned all of this, and sorted through all of this, mostly to avoid dealing with a little girl who can’t quite stay well. The good days are so good, but the sick days are so sick. All that while the other five are the exact same way, except with attachment and behavior.
Regardless, my season of finishing chaplaincy is coming to a close, and my time of letting go of death is here. I must leave the presence of my parents and return to my own family, who are very much alive.
My peace comes in aligning myself with the will of God: keeping His commandments and living according to His laws, caring First and foremost for my family, and having faith even in the grace and mercy that are part of the plan.
I had a rough day emotionally, in part because my children were struggling, in part because my husband battles depression (which he is very open about so I am not telling anything he doesn’t share himself), and in part because some days it feels like the more I try to do to help the more everyone is in crisis.
Because they don’t need me to do anything.
They just need me.
So tonight, when I had to leave for work, I threw myself into the To Do list waiting for me, and then sought out the Chapel for respite and reflection.
Except someone stomped in and whisked on all the lights and nearly blinded me.
Too much. Too loud. Too bright.
Story of my life.
So I slipped out and found a bench in a busy hallway, in the middle of chaos where I always seem to be, and took off my ears and sat here and wrote this until I could breathe again.
Because I can’t save the world.
I can’t even save me.
But I can be me.
But only if I breathe.