This Lenten season has been quite an experience. I’ve had mono, and with it, show-stopping exhaustion. For the past six weeks, I have slept more than I probably slept the six years before. I started Lent declaring I would clean out the clutter in my life. My calendar, which has for decades been overfull, has nothing but doctor appointments and birthdays on it now. On the other hand, my house is significantly more cluttered, but we’re all pretending not to see it.
So 40 days later, what have I learned? On some level, I’d like to say there’s been some great tectonic plate shift in my world view, some radical change has happened and now I’m a better mother, daughter, wife, friend, sister, or cousin, but there’s been no earth-shattering experience. These days have been more like a house settling: subtle moves here and there, creating space in some places and nestling in tightly to others.
Food ~ I despise the notion that I can’t do absolutely everything for myself. Friends have brought food. More have offered, but I’ve tried to keep that to a minimum. By minimum, I mean, I only take the food from the people who showed up at my door, holding it in their hands and wouldn’t leave until I accept it. I’ve let Katy Kat help me with some chores; she even cooked supper a time or two. I’ve let Baby Daddy go the grocery store. And thanks to my strenuous aerobic workout of walking back and forth to the kitchen, I’m the proud owner of some new poundage. I’m trying hard not to obsess about it. But not all my faults will be cured in 40 days, despite what the rehab brochures say.
Friendship ~ My friends are wickedly funny and painfully honest, and I have never felt so loved. One darling friend invited us over when I had cabin fever and let me show up in pajamas and rest on her couch while our kids entertained each other and our husbands watched the NCAA tournament. Another brought me lunch one day and after seeing my feet in flip-flops said, “Lady, you need a pedicure.” She drove me to the day spa and told them, “Make her feel pretty.” Still another sent me text on free pastry day from Starbucks and told me to place me order. She brought it to the house and sat with me enjoying morning coffee. One friend calls every few days and makes me laugh so hard I cry. She reminds me life is going on and when I’m ready to get back to the land of living, I’ll need the gossip on who we’re speaking to and who we’re not and why, so she keeps me up to speed. An out of town friend sent a care package with happies for me and a coloring book to keep Monkey Boy quiet. One friend has dropped by a few times and reminded me, I’m not the center of the universe, just of my house. She told me flat-out she was totally pissed at me for getting sick because I’m no fun like this. Then she hugged me to remind me she loves me and made plans to come back by to mock me.
Faith ~ One day I was complaining, whining and belly aching to a friend who said, “Look, I don’t want to get all Jesus on you, but you could stand to adjust your thinking. Think about it this way: how many women do you know who would kill for a chance to just stop? You have been given this gift of time. If you let yourself, you can ask God how you should be spending your time in the future. What is that you really want to do? What are you truly good at? What’s between the now-you and the potential-you?” I’ve been thinking and praying about that since then. No new or exciting plans have surfaced yet. But I’m leaving myself open to potential.
Family ~ I truly believe my family delights in watching me go a little bit crazy. That’s the only plausible explanation for why they torture me like they do by just being them. Despite their wackiness, every grandparent of Monkey Boy has taken time with him or has plans to. This has given Baby Daddy and me breaks we need and bonding time for all of them. When Baby Daddy works out of town some days, Katy Kat shows up, often unannounced, to be sure I have help when I’m tired. My sister calls to be sure I have someone to complain to and laugh with. They have all been pretty great, when they’re not making me stabby with the same foibles they’ve had all my life. (The stabby part has mostly to do with my tiredness erasing the few people skills I used to have.)
Forgiveness ~ All of this kindness I have received has been completely one-sided. I haven’t so much as written a thank you note. I really do have better home-training than that. I have good intentions; I’m just not reliable. I’ve missed events, meetings, work, parties, showers, lunches, and so much more. If I haven’t already gotten to you to say I’m sorry for blowing you off, please friends, accept this as my apology and forgive me. I will make it up to you. Not really sure how, but that seems like the right thing to say.
Frustration ~ Lent has come and gone, and others have gone back to eating red meat, drinking coffee and enjoying libations again, and I’m still in my house, letting the time pass. I’m trying to keep my head right about it: focus on what I can do. (There’s a lot of knitting going on around here.) Still, if this goes on another 40 days, there will be F’s of a whole different kind on this blog.