January through March are cah-raaaazy months for me. "Birthday Season" starts at the beginning of February, which gives me about six week to get out of Christmas Land and speed myself into the land of cakes and candles. This year we have two milestone birthdays, one of which will also play host to a significant life decision which will require the feeding of extended family members and friends as they celebrate the big day. Three of our family's six birthdays fall in February and March, with another in April, mine in May and then a break before Penguin's in August.
Throw on top of that the season of Girl Scout cookies. Yes, we are in the middle of trudging around in the freezing January weather going door-to-door and asking people to promise to give us money in exchange for boxes of cookies at the beginning of March. We will spend a little more than half of January doing this and at the beginning of March we will head back out to collect money, deliver the boxes and spend pointless hours explaining why we don't have anymore cookies to sell to the people who did not order cookies from us in the first place in January.
Add to that my new calling of Sacrament Music Director and remember that I was already the Choir Director before taking on the extra responsibility. Instead of picking out, rehearsing and performing just the one song that the choir sings each month, I now pick out all the songs we sing every Sunday. My new bishopric wants more special musical performances as well, which means a whole lotta praying all the time to figure out what the Spirit is trying to persuade me to pick for the music, who is supposed to perform it, and when. Then there's the hunting down and convincing of said performers and arranging rehearsal times before the big event. And remember that Easter is on April 8 and that the choir will be putting on an entire Easter program that I am responsible for putting together.
I also homeschool my kids, make every meal in this house, clean every room, wash every item of clothing and attempt to put some sort of physical exercise in the mix.
Is it overwhelming? I thought it was until I was talking to a friend (before listening to her rehearsal for the special musical performance she had agreed to do last Sunday) and she said something that made me remember last year about this time.
When I got pregnant with Monkeyboy, I shut down all my outside obligations because I knew what pregnancy, post-partum and nursing did to me. I knew I'd eventually become so psychotically depressed that I'd flake out on everything I agreed to, no matter how much I liked that particular event. I wish I knew how to turn that switch off; but I don't, so I took precautionary measures and was successful in not letting anyone down, for the most part.
About this time last year I was slogging my way through getting up each morning and even getting dressed. It was a teeth-clenching battle of will power to get school done and make the clothes do their march through the machines so I could deposit them, unfolded, into each individual "Clean" laundry basket with someone's name on it. Folding laundry was too much to ask of me; I could barely get it sorted into the baskets. Going to church was an exercise in anxiety. The idea of baking a birthday cake for each birthday made me seriously want to burst into tears. I am not fun to be around during those days of New Babydom. I've tried herbal remedies, exercise, eating healthy and anti-depressants; nothing makes it better. (Anti-depressants make it much worse, actually.)
Compare last year with this year--that's what my friend made me think about doing. And you know what? I will take crazy, stressed out cookie selling, birthday planning, brunch hosting, snow days, dentist appointments, marathon laundry folding and mending enough clothes to outfit a staged musical over those days of doing nothing at all. Give me work to do or leave me to atrophy. It is so nice to have something to do and to be able to do it.
My psychological nose-dive that I enjoy with each pregnancy and post-partum period gives serious rise to the question of whether we should have more children or not. I won't go into that here, as it is a very private decision between my husband and myself. I was proud of myself with the last pregnancy for standing up and saying that I just couldn't do it all and for removing myself so I wouldn't have to deal with that inevitable self-hatred that accompanies having to back out of something at the last minute after giving your word that you would perform the task. I took care of myself during a time that I obviously needed to be taken care of, rather than try to mould myself to satisfy others' expectations. I'm proud of that; proud of finally being my own advocate.
And here we are a year later; I'm fully dressed, school is done by lunch-time and the laundry has successfully found its way, folded, into dressers on multiple days in a row. The Girl Scout uniforms have all their badges sewn onto them and I've gone grocery shopping every week as scheduled. I could choose to become paralyzed by the thought of all the work that lies ahead of me in the next few months...multiple birthday parties, school activities, monstrous dental work and lots of exercise...
...but for now, I'm just enjoying the commotion and this life that I have swirling around me.