I've started going to church. I went back to the church I was raised in. The one my mother devoted so much of her life to. The one I resented all those years, because it was violating my weekends. The one that I turned my back on the moment I turned 18 and had the choice. And the one that I delivered my mother's eulogy in, and had not been in since.
I was so torn about going back there. I couldn't imagine worshiping in any other church. But I was nervous to go back to the place where I had last seen and said a final goodbye to my mother. Granted she was in a closed casket, but through the powers of my grief induced x-ray vision, I could see her, beautiful, and resting in peace.
The first time I went, I was welcomed by so many people confirming how very happy my mother would be to see us there. I think our being there filled a void for my mother's church family, just as they did for me. One woman sitting behind me asked me if it was strange or comfortable to be back there. I said "it is strangely comfortable." That it was. I felt a noticeable absence without my mother sitting next to me in our usual seat (which I was so relieved to find seemingly reserved just for my return). And I even missed her embarrassing tummy growling at the most inappropriate moments that always gave us the very embarrassing and inappropriate giggles. But...she was there. I could feel her, so glowingly happy and proud to see me there by my own choice, with my own children. And I sat with a lump in my throat and tear brimmed eyes the entire time.
But I don't go just to make mom happy (although that makes me happy). And I don't go just because it is the one place I can go where NO ONE is aloud to speak to me for ONE WHOLE HOUR, other than God (although that makes me VERY happy!).
I go to God's house because it gives me a peace and calm and solitude that I rarely get in my own home which is bursting at the seams with children and their boisterousness. I pray for an ounce of this peace in my home...this week.
I go because I am blessed with a house full of healthy, happy, boisterous children. I pray for that to last...forever.
I go because I am exhausted and perhaps a tad resentful from slaving away at my thankless job as a stay-at-home mom all week. I pray for one thank you...this week.
I go to thank God for blessing me with the amazing man who loves me and works hard to provide for our family so that I may stay home and raise our children. I pray for the strength to be worthy of this task and to remain loveable to him...this week.
I go because only God could make sense of all of this.
I go because I don't have to explain myself to God. I don't have to whine and vent and complain for him to understand. I don't have to say a word. And yet he answers me:
"I know it's hard, giving everything you've got, every second of every day, and feeling like it's not enough. I know it seems impossible to handle all that you have taken on. I know that you want only the very best for the people you love so very much. I know that you sometimes feel neglected while you are struggling to love and care for everyone else. I know that sometimes, you just miss and need your mother. TRUST ME, I know that unconditional love can be very trying."
"I know that this world scares you sometimes. I But stay focused on your children, and I will stay focused on mine. TRUST ME, it scares me too sometimes."
"I know that you are under the spell of good intentions. Everything you do is for the good of your family. Even those screaming fits you have and instantly regret are only because you are momentarily convinced that repeating yourself LOUDLY and scaring the hell out of your children may have a better outcome than the first 50 times when you asked calmly and nicely. I get angry too sometimes. It's ok. TRUST ME, I know all about unruly children."
"I know that you are still the patient person you wish to be. But I also know that you are the mother of four, and you are only human. TRUST ME, I know that human beings are not perfect."
"I know that when you say 'Lord help me' a million times a day, it's because you genuinely need a heavenly hand, and not a sarcastic plea for pity.
"I know that when you ask one of your children 'WHAT IN THE NAME OF GOD ARE YOU DOING?!' you know that even I may not have the answer to that."
"I know that you do not need to hear 'thank you' to know that they are thankful for you. TRUST ME, I know all about seemingly ungrateful children."
"TRUST ME, I know this parenting thing is hard sometimes. You are doing well. You are loving and you are loved. You are blessed and you are thankful. You are here today, and I am with you, always. And you've made your mother very happy. TRUST ME."
"Go now, in peace (at least for the moment)."
It's amazing what you can hear when there is no one around to ask you for some juice every 15 seconds. And somehow, I feel a little less crazy and overwhelmed, at least for the next few days, until we meet again.