Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

The Weary Silence

I've fallen into silence on the internet lately for a number of reasons, some better than others. One is that my reading of Elisabeth Leseur made me very aware of the virtues of silence. And not just for reasons of holiness. I have a strong internal editor for public writing, but even so, lately it's seemed like my writing is lacking in conversational grace -- either what seems witty in my head will look too sharply sarcastic put into words, or I just want to be chatty beyond all endurance, so that I find it better not to say anything at all. The same goes for writing about pregnancy. I've tracked 3 1/2 pregnancies on this blog, and though I'm older and more tired, things are basically the same, only a bit more so. Even the minor awkwardnesses of this time around (not new, just... more so) are the sort of things that don't really bear public discussion.

There's been a bit of literal silence here too. My brother was married last weekend, and in my family, a wedding means music. The singing started on Thursday night and continued on through Saturday, when I, being the only untrained member of the a cappella choir, was promoted to the level of my incompetency and conducted the group. It's been a tradition at the past few family weddings for my siblings and I to toast whoever's getting married with some classic song slightly altered; this time it was Billy Joel's For the Longest Time, which involves a fair amount of practice into the wee hours when the singers only have two days all together to get it right. As a result, I'm still recovering my voice.

I'm recovering my equilibrium too. I love these big family gatherings, but they take a lot out of me, physically (which will happen if someone six months pregnant will stay up until 2 am three nights in a row). It took me until today to realize that's why I've felt so emotionally fragile these past few days, overwhelmed by the immensity of the tasks handed me and the sorry job I've done with them and the lack of motivation to do anything, ever. In particular, the prospect of keeping the house in some state that passes for order seemed almost impossible. Apparently I'd forgotten that it's always a losing proposition to make sweeping generalizations about life while you're fighting to stay awake.  I even began crafting a sad little fantasy about how badly things were going to turn out, which I should know by now is always a sign of complete exhaustion. Here's how my mind works at times like this:
Our heroine is so worn out from pregnancy and childbirth that her house falls into a state of utter decay. Finally, in desperation, she hires a cleaning service. Sure, the house becomes cleaner, but she hate hates it, because it's a sign of her utter incompetence and failure. She feels that her husband deserves a clean house (her kids, on the other hand, can live in the pigsty they've created, for all she cares), but she can't give it to him. She is a bad wife. She is an angry mother. Her cleaning lady despises her. Her children learn nothing. There is no happy ending.
And then, this afternoon, struggling to stay awake at the schoolroom table while people fretted over their math, feeling how uncomfortable it was to lean on the table over my stomach pressing up into my ribcage, I thought, "I wonder if baby's on a growth spurt?" and suddenly everything fell into perspective.

What else has fallen into perspective is that I need sources of encouragement, practical and spiritual. For years I felt I could pretty much go it alone, and that worked okay, but these days, whether it's pregnancy or whether I've depleted my reserves of stoicism, I find that spiritual reading, when I remember to do it, is a lifeline for me, restoring sanity and infusing me with the desire for holiness that I can't seem to muster up on my own. (Even my reading energy is depleted these days, which is an unusual situation.) And this afternoon, I read through Leila's series of posts on The Reasonably Clean House, which reminded me that I'm not the only person who struggles with these problems and that the housekeeping is not insurmountable even for someone with less natural aptitude for schedule and systems (and five children to help out, too).

Now to remember this tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and when I'm feeling more energetic and forget that I need to put oil in my lamp before the darkness falls.


Melanie Bettinelli said...

Oh yes. When I'm tired the housework seems insurmountable, everything impossible. Then I finally get rested and regain some perspective and it's amazing how different everything looks. I hope you catch up on some sleep soon.

Catholic Bibliophagist said...

Paper plates, cups, and disposable plastic flatware were my postpartum indulgence. Both Jon and I felt that not having to face a growing pile of dirty dishes was worth the cost of buying extra paper products. Perhaps you can think of some similar "cheating" strategies for the exhausting periods that are so common during late pregnancy.

Hoping you feel more rested soon.

bearing said...

Definitely. Something has to give somewhere, and that's okay.

Order more pizza.

Gift yourself with a *single* thorough, bracing visit from a cleaning service (no commitment, no emotional involvement). It'll take a day's work to get ready for it to get your money's worth, what with picking up and such, but when they show up you can go out for a movie with the kids and when you come home it'll feel like a fresh new start.

Get some good nature movies or language-learning cartoons or something so you can plunk the younger kids in front of it and take a guilt-free nap.

Shortcuts, shortcuts, shortcuts. Conserve your energy and resolve for the important things. And make sure you're getting enough iron.

Jenny said...

The pregnancy tired is such an all-consuming tired. I didn't have the energy for much more than essential basics. I'd read something and want to leave some insightful and relevant comment (eyeroll), but was too tired to type coherent sentences out of the jumble of thoughts in my head.

I think I've had your same nightmare fantasy more times than I would care to count. You aren't craving ice, are you?

I think Leila might be my most favorite person on the Internet. Her posts make everything seem so simple and reasonable. She reassures that you can always try again tomorrow and the long term goal is more important than some short term misery.

Although the "Reasonably Clean" house is a far off goal/dream for me, even I feel like I might be able to manage a bit better after reading her posts.

Brandon said...

It can be difficult in general to remember that there is only enough of one to go around -- or maybe more accurately, to keep track of how much of oneself is being given out; I can only imagine that it's especially difficult with the continual background drain pregnancy would bring, with no easy way to tell how much is already going elsewhere.

People often used to compare human nature to the string of a well-made bow: you can pull on it to do task after task, but if you do nothing but pull on it, you just end up breaking it -- the whole point of pulling on the string is then to let it go. That's something I have difficulty with; academic life is the sort of thing that has no natural limits, just an endless to-do list that never gets shorter. I think that might tie in to your point about silence, which is one way of letting go of the string.