It’s interesting how second pregnancies are different from the first, especially when they aren’t spaced very far apart. I have completely lost track of how many weeks along I am at any given point; though to be fair, I have also lost track of how many months old Iva is, so many it’s just a general memory problem. “Mom brain” is a real thing and I’m pretty sure it only gets worse as time goes on, or so they tell me (and I believe them).
We are definitely at an interesting place on the timeline right now, as Iva is 16 months old as of yesterday and I am entering the last week of my second trimester tomorrow. Devynn and I are really enjoying some of Iva’s newer developments – walking, talking, and so on – as we also get much closer to meeting Callum in September and can see/feel him moving around and getting bigger every day. Of course this also means that I am getting bigger, and therefore less mobile . . . so over the past few weeks I’ve made it my mission to use the remnants of my second trimester energy to declutter and organize our posessions. This is partly a nesting urge, I think, but also just a practicality since we will be moving from this apartment into another one approximately two weeks before my “due date.” And the fact that due dates have a two-week standard of deviation/error is pretty unnerving.
So, in the meantime I’m trying to make that impending time of transition a little easier by freezing homemade bread and muffins, pressure canning soup bases and broth, selling or donating things that we don’t truly need or love, and organizing and labeling whatever remains. This is kind of grueling work to do with a rambunctious pre-verbal toddler and steadily decreasing physical abilities . . . but it has been helpful to have several friends who make us dinner each week so that by the time of day when my feet swell up and my pelvis gives out, I don’t have to do any standing at the stove for an hour while Iva tries to climb up my legs and beg for snacks!
As I sift through baking and canning recipes and feel all the emotions that come when you part with belongings that only served you well in a different pre-family life, I’ve been challenged in the area of contentment and made to prioritize what matters. Now I don’t speak of priorities in the sense that modern Western culture often does, where it means you have a list of fifty things that are important to you and the puzzle is to figure out how to do all of them at the highest possible capacity . . . because this is actually the opposite of what it means to sort out your priorities. Truly reprioritizing your life and time and possessions has to involve a humble acknowledgment of human limitation and opportunity cost. Unless you have a massive home and an extra storage compound, you literally cannot keep everything that is likeable or useful. And unless you are a demigod or superhuman (which you aren’t, because no one is), you cannot do everything that might be good or enjoyable or beneficial. Every time you say Yes to one thing, you must by necessity say No to something else, because we all have a finite collection of time, energy, money, and space to work with.
We can only do our best with what we have, and that involves asking ourselves what is most important and then letting go of other good things outside of those boundaries. This in itself is good, though emotionally difficult, because it requires us to come to terms with the fact that we aren’t God, and that is only ever a beneficial realization.
What is important to me, then?
It’s important that I have a sound, godly marriage to the man I chose three years ago. It’s important that I raise our children to know God and then to pray that they love and obey Him. It’s important that I provide this family with a happy and healthy home. It’s important that we steward our resources in way that proves we believe in a life to come. It’s important that I be biblically literate so that I can better love the God who is revealed in the Scriptures.
Even then, I am tempted to continue on and add more important things – personal goals relating to hobbies, reading, traveling, and learning. But the reality is that these five priorities are all I can manage well; and even then, there must be a hierarchy of importance among them, so that I have to elevate certain ones above others at different points in time.
Remarkably, once you get over some initial disappointment after realizing it’s delusional to think that you can do/have/know everything you want, life lived with this perspective of limitations is actually more liberating and peaceful. Though I have (at least for this season of life) given up on learning new languages, traveling the world, reading a new book every week, having reliable or abundant personal time, and generally living according to my own whims and fancies, I have been blessed with other things that are just as good and beautiful, like . . .
- my toddler’s smile when I come through the door to pick her up from the babysitter
- the sunrise illuminating the flowers on my balcony at 5:30 in the morning
- the satisfaction that comes from learning skills like sewing, baking, and gardening
- the strength from God that sustains me when I have hours left in the day but no more ability within myself
- jars of flour and baskets of produce waiting on the counter to be transformed
- the steady faithfulness of a husband who works an unglamorous job to provide the raw materials needed for all these transformative, creative endeavors
- the smell of tomato plants and soil
- a myriad of other small things that I could disregard and take for granted if I chose a different Yes or No
I’m usually battling most against unhappiness and discontentment when I am demanding All The Good Things and am not acknowledging the sheer grace of God involved in the fact that I experience any of these good things at all. I’m not entitled to a life of ease and leisure, and I have to deliberately remind myself of this in order to function well because the world around me insists the opposite is true.
And, paradoxically, because the economy of God operates differently than my human inclinations would assume, everyday faithfulness in these small blessings and burdens and stewardship responsibilities actually produces more enjoyment than a life lived with a mindset that strives for ease and pleasure and self-fulfillment.
It’s almost like we were created to glorify God and not ourselves? . . . Or something like that.