Today, I decided that I was ready to begin making challah bread for our shabbat again. (This readiness may be correlated with the fact that all the challah I made and froze before Esther was born is gone.)
While making it, I was rejoicing in her increasing ability to sit by herself in her little rocking chair. Up until the last couple of days, she has refused to be put down. At. All. (When other parents at a class I recently went to said very sweet things about "one thing they had learned" in the icebreaker session, I didn't stop before I answered honestly that I had learned how to ignore her crying.) But yesterday, she let me shower a full shower without hollering and today she was content while I got through all of the steps of baking up until adding the water and the yeast.
When I got there, I accidentally splashed her with just a few drops of boiling water.
I quickasaflash picked her up before the hollering started and she calmed down quickly enough without even a red mark to show for her mother's negligence. She spent the rest of the time with me in the Moby wrap (aka "the bag," as in "All right, back in the bag you go!").
The experience made me think of my trip to Africa and my realization that so many children there were seriously burned and scarred. A side of a face. A forearm. A shoulder. In a society where all meals are cooked on open flames, this is just one more hazard that kids routinely encounter. I can't imagine that life for my daughter or myself since I would have to watch her be burned so badly.
This type of psychological association is one of the major things that makes motherhood difficult for me. I have many very run-of-the-mill difficulties: Esther doesn't like to be put down, my body still isn't quite healed yet, Jacob and I are still in different beds since Esther will only sleep for any length of time when she's in the bed with me, frustration with my lack of ability to be productive, middle of the night fears that Esther's not eating enough or that I'm ruining her forever by not practicing tough love and building her character. (No need to comfort me on those last two: I know they're ridiculous and untrue but 2:30 in the morning is an evil hour for worrying.)
No matter how mundane each of our experiences are, with few exceptions, they produce valid emotions. Although we can tip over too far into self-pity, for the most part, each of us feels appropriately. I'm OK with this for the most part, my practice of the spirituality of imperfection generally makes it easier for me to process my emotions without judging myself for having them in the first place (which only compounds any paralysis I'm experiencing).
However, I'm struggling to keep up this practice lately. I keep comparing myself to moms that have to go back to work and single moms and moms in Africa or Iraq. My frustrations seem laughable in comparison and my self-perception is gradually shifting to a belief that I am weak because of the paths we are taking or the pace at which we are taking them. This is not a foreign experience for me but I can't remember how I snapped out of it in the past.
I am going to try to stop doing this. God gave me this life and it would be ingrateful of me to behave as if I had less blessings than I do. That is not the truth and I believe Jesus when he says that the truth will set me free. I think I have already made the first step by making a rule that I am no longer allowed to use the iPad to research parenting tips in the middle of the night. Instead, I'm reading Game of Thrones while Esther nurses. I'm feeling better already.
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