Earlier this week I wrote about setting the bar high for my exercise classmates. Today I feel the need to make sure expectations for my weight loss progress are down in the dumps where they belong. For the entire rainy month of April, my weight has remained consistently higher than it was at the March weigh-in. The problem is – as always for me – eating.
I've been asking myself why I'm stuck in eating cereal or cookies or granola bars when I know they're not what I need to be eating – when I know they're my Achilles heel – and today I awoke with this song lyric in my head. It's from Ragtime: The Musical, and is sung by Mother as part of a trio – the other voices are of men traveling to or from America. Mother is at home:
And what of the people
Whose boundaries chafe…?
Undoubtedly I'm not the first person to struggle with a lack of fulfillment. It's crazy to even think that I can be unfulfilled when I have my arms full of a family to love and my hands filled with community projects. But the fact which is stirring up tears while I type is that with the exception of twice weekly weightlifting sessions, I'm not regularly involved in anything which brings me the joy of accomplishment.
I wish I could find fulfillment in a tidy house and that I was adept at creating dinners which every member of my family would find pleasing every night. Maybe if I didn't plan for, shop, and prepare meals only to have "What is that?" be the nightly chorus, I could at least take pride in my cooking abilities. But just as many people go to their offices each day and go through the motions of a boring job in exchange for a paycheck, lately I'm finding myself barely being able to force myself to go through the motions. (Yes, I do realize that people are lucky to have jobs, even boring ones, and that I'm fortunate to have a house and a family.)
Maybe this is all about cabin fever tinged with loneliness. With all the rain, my kids and I have been stuck indoors, which means I haven't done any of the things I've wanted to do: organize and store our photos in a place out of our youngest's reach; work on a quilt; bake a treat for my family. Due to very differing internal clocks and differing commitments, my wonderful husband and I sometimes seem like ships passing. And because many of my friends' kids attend different schools with different spring breaks, I haven't even been able to reliably use the Phone-A-Friend lifeline. I was housebound with kids this week; they'll be housebound with kids next week.
I suspect that until the sun shines again, I need to pursue Ignatian spirituality: seeing God in every moment, every task – from watching Wiggly Christmas on Good Friday to praying that my son's upset stomach passes quickly to letting the dog out for the 84th time. Until that dreaded day when my kids are too busy for me, I need to buckle down and appreciate what I do have.
Perhaps the best I can do sometimes is make sure the kitchen counter is uncluttered, books are back on the bookshelf, and there's no old lettuce in the vegetable bin. Better to be proud of having it done than to be embarrassed by having it not done.
I need to find joy in playing Pokemon Monopoly again. I need to not mind making a mess (I'll just have to clean up) with finger paints. I need to rather do anything with my family than long for a snooze. I need to teach my kids to find joy & fulfillment in unexpected places.
So today I commit myself to the challenge of finding joy in chores, of being a more involved parent when my kids need me to be so, and to being really present during those beautiful but fleeting moments when my husband and I both have five minutes of nothing else that has to be done.
There'll be time for fabric and photos later.
While I'm at it, I have to use some of my weightlifting strength to turn away from using comforting carbs as a solace drug. Graham crackers won't cure boredom, cereal isn't a friend, and eating a cookie is not an accomplishment (though if it were one of those giant chocolate chip ones ones…).