Big Lip Stamp
When someone is whinging around here, we chase them around the house threatening to give them a “big lip stamp;” to basically, plant a pouty lip on them. This is supposed to cheer them up and snap them out of it. Whether this works, or if this is some therapist’s future summer home remains to be seen, but with the frequency that protruding lower lips seem to fly up and down the stairs, I doubt it’s being retired around here any time soon.
Except that today I need a big lip stamp, because I am sick and it’s about -1 zillion degrees outside. Actually, it’s -35° Celsius with wind chill. That’s -31° in Fahrenheit and 238.15 in Kelvin. (Aren’t conversion widgets great?) It’s so cold that the birds that bother to rest on our front tree are twice their normal size. The kids have to leave for the one block walk to school covered with so much winter wear, only a sliver of eye is exposed. Both the worst and the best time to be sick.
The best? Because you can’t really do anything anyway, so it’s a good excuse to let the kids watch a Rugrats DVD and recuperate. Except that I’m not, really. Just like on Sunday morning after spending all night being sick to my stomach, I was up folding laundry. Same thing today. In between swoons, I was stacking little boy pants and little girl pj’s. It reminded me of when I took some time “off” over the Christmas break. No one got dressed and we all just sat around eating Caramel Pecan Squares and leftovers. One afternoon, I stole a nap. While I slept, I dreamt that I was doing laundry — folding, stacking, running around with hampers. And when I work up I felt, well, great. I hadn’t realized until then how much industry begets cheerfulness.
Those Puritans used to say that idle hands were the devil’s workshop. And for the first 29 years of my life, I sure was glad we were all done with that attitude. I was constantly “taking it easy,” “needing a break,” and I forever was “stressed out.” I didn’t know from what. I never had to toilet train a 2 ¾ year old, who really couldn’t care less what happens to the carpet in his bedroom. Or stay up all night with a teething baby, only to be up by 7:00 the next morning to get the big kids out the door.
Whatever I did, I did it for me, and that was the problem. I really was stressed out and burnt up. I thought that by running after a life based on the virtue of “that sounds fun,” I would have a fun life. But I didn’t. I had a life increasingly without meaning. It took me a while to realize that we were made to be useful, and live in a community. Not necessarily a community of a common Postal Code or socio-demographic grouping, but one of connections based on interdependence. For years I thought that if I only got enough time to do what I really wanted, I would discover my purpose in life. Instead, I found my purpose when I did what someone else needed.
No man, or Mother is an island. As I stand in surrounded by my sea of laundry and Kleenex boxes, I realize that I am not afloat, but finally grounded. Just another of many surprises on this journey as a Mom.