Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Lost Toy

I just remembered that there was this service auction being held at our church tonight and I wanted to go! I got the reminder in my inbox yesterday morning telling me it was my last chance to donate a service before the deadline was up that evening.  The notice said they'd be having a big dinner, then auctioning off the services people have donated. I've actually known about it for over a month and I was excited to participate and even fantasized about doing something awesome, like donating fresh loaves of my honey-whole-wheat bread or one of my seashell angel ornaments. But now that it's actually happening, I'm feeling guilty pangs of remorse realizing that I haven't done a darn thing!

It's instances like this service auction where I really want to be a part of something special but I can't. I want to give generously of my time and talents and feel a big self-satisfying boost of  appreciation for who I am as a person, but in reality, I just can't do it. It's hard to feel like myself right now when I have a 3 month old baby who is taking up every bit of energy I have!  I am up several times a night feeding him and then carrying him close to me throughout the day. I love his cute squishiness to pieces and spend much of my energy planting big kisses all over his chubby cheeks! Then, I seem to have just enough energy leftover to also feed, entertain, and love-on my other two wonderful children, but sometimes not. I realized that I am more busy and overwhelmed than I thought I would be with three children and wasn't expecting it to be so tiring! 
This afternoon I tried to feel more optimistic about  participating in the auction, and reasoned that  I could try really, really hard to squeeze in some time to bake bread, then realized I was out of flour. And well, I just didn't feel like I could squeeze in lugging all 3 kids to the grocery store with the snow falling, the baby hungry, and the ongoing possibility of someone having at least one shoe missing before we went! It was too much for me to consider!

So instead, I took my kids swimming! My favorite thing to do with my older two boys right now is go swimming at our new apartment pool. We try to go almost every other day while the baby takes his big, morning nap in the stroller. I park him carefully by the poolside lounge chairs while we  play games and kick around for hours in the shallow end. I forgot how much I love swimming! I grew up in Hawaii where I could swim every single day if I wanted! Swimming became a way to relax and rejuvenate my soul. After a hard day at work or school I could always count on jumping in the ocean, moving my limbs freely, and gliding blissfully through the water while removing any last lingering bits of stress from my mind. Swimming was always a healthy, happy escape for me when life seemed to ask for too much. But now that I live in the snowy mountains,  raising a family with my mountian-man husband, I have to settle for wading in the shallow end of the pool while my five year old jumps onto my back yelling,"Ride em' dolphin, ride! Go, mommy, go! Now go faster!"

I decided not to attend the service auction at my church tonight, and instead cooked a spaghetti dinner at  home for my family.  I  pictured all the delicious food, chattering friends, and fun services being auctioned off and felt left out for not going and even a little guilty for not trying harder to do something about it. I looked around at my husband and kids and saw a boring meal, a messy house, piles of dirty dishes, and a woman who needed some time for herself, but didn't know how.
At that moment I also remembered that we had left my sons favorite toy at the pool. Since my husband was holding the baby, and the kids were busily playing a game on the carpet, I slipped out by myself to go grab the toy. I glanced up to see that the stars were out, and the apartments were all dark and quiet. It seemed everyone was either turned in for the evening or out on the town. Either way, It was a nice, peaceful, 3 minute stroll to the pool alone. When I got there I looked for the toy but it wasn't there. I was turning to leave and walk back home when suddenly the shiny glimmer of the stars on the pool's surface caught my eye. It looked so lovely and inviting. I thought how nice it would be to swim right now in that warm, heated pool, all by myself, under the starlight.

But, I quickly pushed that thought away. I thought instead that I needed to get back to my messy house, and the piles of dishes, and of course be back to help put our children into bed. Everyone would need my help before too long-- It was only a matter of minutes before someone noticed I was missing!
As I headed onto  the dark pathway back home, feelings of negative resentment for my family crept into my heart. I started feeling like I never have time for myself and they couldn't care less how exhausted I was. Then the reality of having 3 children to constantly care for was hitting me as fast as that warm, inviting pool started to disappear into the distance behind me. I felt tears well up in my eyes, feeling part pity for myself, and part guilt for feeling pity for myself. It was a mess of emotions! I couldn't stop thinking about how I wished I could feel like myself somehow, and not some overworked, worn out mom, who had to miss out on fun service auctions.

Then suddenly, I just stopped thinking, and started running back towards the pool.
I reached the edge within seconds and with one, big, cannonball leap, I was instantly jumping feet first into the pool, with all my clothes on.
"Woooohooooooooo!," I yelled at the top of my lungs! My smile felt as big as the Universe!
I swam around for several minutes, moving my limbs freely, and gliding blissfully through the water while removing any last lingering bits of stress from my mind. I found myself floating on the surface, looking up at those shiny glimmering stars that had called to me. It was so refreshing, so relaxing, so rejuvenating and! All those feelings of resentment, guilt, and longing seemed to sink away to the bottom of the pool. I didn't care anymore about my messy house, my dirty dishes, or my obvious inability to bake bread for some silly auction! I only felt happy to be alive, happy to be a mommy, and happy to get home to my amazing kids!

When I got home I was still soaking wet. I quietly opened the front door and snuck back into the bedroom to change while my family was still happily engaged with their game in the living room. (I didn't feel like explaining to my 5 and 3 year old why mommy was drenched in pool water.) I heard my husband yell down the hall, "So, did you find the toy?" "Nope. It was gone", I replied, having completely forgotten why I went to the pool in the first place!  However, I decided that my son would be okay without his toy, for more importnatly, his mommy found a little piece of herself tonight.  It was definitely something we all needed. In fact, I plan on making more trips to the pool, not as "mommy the ride-able dolphin," but as me, the woman who loves to swim.


Da Denninghoff's said...

LOVE IT! good for you just jumping in! That's the SALLY I know. The truth is you havent changed a bit, only for the better. You've gained more goodness because of your wife-hood & motherhood, but youre still fun & incredibly beautiful:) Your story made me smile, i hope your hunny knows that you jumped in!

redrockmama said...

You jumped in!

You are now wife and mama...but you will still always be SALLY. It's small little moments like that, that let you remember that you are still YOU.

I'm so proud of you that you ran back and cannonballed in, clothes and all.


Joannah said...

I love this story. I know this feeling of finding a piece of yourself that you've forgotten or which has been lost in this most amazing but tireless journey through motherhood. It's refreshing!

Tami H. said...

Love this story Sally, thanks for sharing. We all need to jump in the pool with our clothes on from time to time!!!

chelsea mckell said...

Love the story :)

You could auction off your breastfeeding support services for the RS activity!

Micah really didn't ask why you came into the house soaking wet?!?

Wendy said...

I wish i would've been walking by when this happened. You're wonderful!

tracy said...


Thank you for sharing this moment with me. I am going to be thinking of it often and hoping I have the courage to go after my dreams with such gusto!!!

arianne said...

I really connected with this story. Oh, Sally, I love you!

P.S. You should publish some of your posts elsewhere. Your writing is really getting good.

The Estrogen Files said...

Always a blessing to have time for yourself.