(For Part I, go here.)
When I was a kid I had an active imagination. I was as good as an only child since my brother graduated high school and left home when I was seven (which was also, I just realized, the year after my father left), so I created my own companionship in my mind. There was my imaginary friend, Tead Berglund, who eventually died of a broken arm when I outgrew him; and there was the time my parents and I drove from Minnesota to Maryland to visit relatives, and I spent the entire drive squished against the door of our silver Cutlass to make room for all my imaginary brothers and sisters in the car; and I filled notebooks â€“ the blank hardcover books with fabric covers â€“ with melodramatic stories that I wrote about children who persevered through tragic loss.
Lately Iâ€™ve been thinking a lot about my imagination, and the budding imagination I see in Ruthie, and how she completely zones out when watching t.v. Even in just the few days that weâ€™ve been without a television she has pretended over and over (and over) again that she is getting married, and she makes birthday cakes out of play-doh, and wraps up random items in a paper napkin to give away as presents. And she plays with Thomas, racing cars or they chase each other.
Maybe sheâ€™s done these things all along and I havenâ€™t noticed, but itâ€™s possible she is just now getting the opportunity to explore the wonders of her own mind.
Another routine I have established is spending time alone with Ruthie before Thomas wakes up. I started this a couple weeks ago, and we do it on the mornings she doesnâ€™t have preschool. We do a craft project that involves coloring, cutting, and gluing; we read books; I help her play a Dora the Explorer game on the computer, and other things that she can eventually learn to do independently, but for now enjoys my participation.
After Thomas wakes up I try to send them outside to play, or we go to a play date, or run errands, or visit the Aquarium or gymnastics club for their open gym time. These are all things weâ€™ve kept busy with in the last couple weeks, and I feel simultaneously empowered as a mother and exhausted as an introvert. I am connecting with my children; I am engaging; I am paying attention. This has been my ultimate goal since I began re-ordering my life back in November.
But still, as I begin to get healthier and manage my time more efficiently, I continue to crave time alone and feel â€“ perhaps rationally, perhaps irrationally â€“ that Iâ€™m not getting enough. Is it because Iâ€™m not getting enough? Or is it because Iâ€™m selfish and want more, more, more?
At the end of the day I feel like itâ€™s a crap shoot as to whether Iâ€™ll have the energy to do something that re-creates me or if I just crash on the couch with a remote. Tonight? I feel energized to explore my mind, and Iâ€™m wide awake because of it. Last night? I was like a fool, wandering aimlessly about the house and squandering away my time â€“ the later I stayed awake, the more frustrated I became with the emptiness of my actions. It was not time spent re-energizing my soul, and I should have just gone to bed when Bryan did.
I think over-all I enjoy life without excessive television, and I enjoy the routine Iâ€™m establishing, and Iâ€™m enjoying the activities Iâ€™m participating in with my children, and I enjoy getting up early in the morning. With all the puzzle pieces put together, I can stay ahead of the curve throughout the day.
But I have been morose today, and have been all week. Morose and irritable and on the verge of crying at any moment all day long. I canâ€™t explain it. Hormones? Busy planning a trip? Mourning a sick dog? Who knows. God does, and herein lies the issue: even with all things falling into place â€“ my routine, our financial stability, the achievement of goals â€“ even with all these great things, I still feel wretched in my heart.
And that, my friends, is a topic for another day.