Summer is “supposed” to be a lot of things: sun, vacation, relaxation, slowing down, sun (did I mention that one twice?). Fall has always been more my speed, but I always hold out hope for a good summer. The last three have not been kind in my small world. Downright terrible, in fact. For the last three years, come August 31 or thereabouts, the endless shuttling of bodies hither and yon, my own misguided and unrealistic expectations, and a myriad of other factors have knocked me flat and left my devoted Cowboy and other family members to pick up the pieces.
**Disclaimer–Lest you think this post is spiraling into some sort of public pity party, let me assure you, that is not my intent. My life is full of innumerable blessings. I’ve not even come close to experiencing the pain and suffering that millions the world over face daily, not to mention things like Colorado (can someone just give them a do-over already?).**
I’ve come to approach summer with a sense of foreboding combined with a let’s-hold-our-breath-and-we’ll-somehow-make-it-to-the-other-side mentality. So it didn’t really come as a surprise that the vile underbelly of summer showed itself last week. Not in a catastrophic, earth-shattering sort of way, but more of a relentless pounding or a vice-grip which turned a little tighter each day. It was one big fight.
The week began with our return from a weekend camping trip which was for the most part rejuvenating and relaxing. However, returning from a camping trip with a three year old and a four month old in tow is not for the faint of heart. The tent pictured above is still “drying out” in our garage and the sleeping bags are still sitting in the middle of our living room. I fought clutter all week, or rather, I moved it around a lot.
I fought most of the week to comfort a baby whose two shots left him unwell and out of sorts. He battled burps and insomnia, and I fumbled to find ways to help.
Even nature, usually a dependable oasis of calm for me, showed some of its uglier side as well.
The slugs and deer have called in their friends, the rabbits, for a furious assault on the garden. Camping gear and laundry sat idle while more deer fencing was erected, fence lines were checked, cougar scent was applied, and beans were replanted for the third time. I don’t even care if I get to eat the beans, but I will grow them to maturity. I fought hard in the garden this week.
In a desperate (and finally successful) attempt to expel some stubborn burps from FB and get him to sleep, I found myself in early evening, standing in the middle of our trampoline, gently bouncing him on my chest. In an effort to distract myself from the plight of the garden, I began watching the yellow finches flitting about in the periphery of the trees. What began as an enjoyable diversion quickly turned ugly, as a finch and some other type of bird (perhaps a young robin?) began bullying each other and chasing each other through the undergrowth. When I noticed that FB had finally fallen asleep, I quickly went inside, unsettled by how cruel nature can be.
And even though we didn’t need any more reminders of the harsh realities of the animal world, a pitiful, yet delightful one arrived in the form of a week-old calf, rejected by her mother. A baby, who when trying to follow her God-given instincts to nurse and suckle, received repeated kicks and head-butts instead of food and comfort. Now, Bella, as Bug [her main caretaker] has named her will stay with us until she can fend for herself. I fought sadness this week.
I fought many things this week: exhaustion, impatience, and a sharp tongue, to name a few more. But there was a difference from summers past; instead of being angry or anxious or stewing about the struggle and the problems and stresses, I’m energized by them. Not intimidated. Not backing down. As I told Cowboy, I feel like I’m getting my “zing” back.
For the past year I’ve been working on breaking a lifetime of bad thought patterns and habits. As a wise person told me earlier in the year, I’m learning to pay attention to the “rumble strips” that warn me when I’m drifting off course. I try to count my blessings. I’ve memorized a quote that, ironically, I see in the exam room each time FB gets his shots. Under a black and white photocopy of a smiling baby, someone has penciled these words: “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
At just the right moment I read these words in one of my favorite books:
Self-pity is a slimy, bottomless pit. Once you fall in, you tend to go deeper and deeper into the mire. As you slide down those slippery walls, you are well on your way to depression, and the darkness is profound.
Your only hope is to look up and see the Light of My Presence shining down on you.
And this inspiring post went up on one of my new favorite blogs.
August, this year I’m breaking with tradition. I’m challenging you to a staring contest, and I bet you’ll blink first. Fight on.