It's quiet here. My girls are sleeping. I just finished a sandwich and an episode of a show I'm half a season behind on. I straightened the kitchen and started folding laundry. I haven't showered, I have no make-up on, but I am "dressed" in mismatched workout clothes for a day of housekeeping catch up and packing for another road trip tomorrow. It's one of those slow lazy days where there are a hundred things to do, but nothing seems to really matter. It will get done.
I'm just noticing today. Noticing my two year old getting sleepy after lunch. Lying on the back porch coloring the tiles with chalk and singing. Rolling in the unswept leaves, chalk covering her from head to toe. Slipping into her world, where I disappear and there's nothing but herself and her artwork and her sleepy singing. Missing words but keep a little tune, and singing the same verse of Jesus Loves Me over and over. "For the Bible tells me so". Choosing colors, scribbling a little on each tile, rolling the chalk around in her fingers, immersed in her world. After a long time, she snaps back to me, to the yard, the leaves beneath her, the sound of the mama bird in the bush by the porch, the timeline of the day. She notices her hands are messy and reaches for me saying "Mama you hold me." I scoop her up. I notice her weight and how long her legs reach down my body these days. I tell her she's getting so big, but she'll always be a little bit my baby. Her little chalky hand pats my back and she rests her sleepy head on my shoulder. "I'm ready to read and rest now, Mama." "Where is that mouse book?" Then clean up, clean clothes, wipe down, snuggle up, nap time. It seems slow and simple. Nothing to do that can't wait at least a little while. Just us. Just home. Just today.
There's another little person too. My Mae. Almost one, toddling around handing me things. A teacup. A ball. An Easter egg that didn't get put away. Smiling with each gift. Sometimes wanting it right back. Gathering books and hoarding them by a little rocking chair. She sits and reads. Arranging the books around the chair, turning them over in her hands, glancing at me. Am I watching? Do I see her? Do I celebrate her? Climbing and laughing and shaking her head "no" each time she stands up in her chair. Testing me. Learning her limits. I notice she's almost more toddler than baby now. There she is, walking, climbing, rocking, reading, being a little person. I see her. I see the tuft of hair on the crown of her head flop as she plays. I see that her eyes are getting darker. Not even a hint of baby blue now. Turning from hazel to brown. Maybe. I hear her chattering, trying sounds, pointing, telling me. Then getting sleepy too. Rubbing her eyes. Lying down on the floor. Finding a pillow, then crawling to me. Reaching up. She needs me. Needs sleep. I pick her up. Lights off, sound machine on, rocking, singing. Heavy eyes. Lay her down. Sleep.
A morning of squealing, giggling, whining, crying, singing. Lots of noise. Then quiet. Quiet house. Quiet heart. Resting in the present. It doesn't have to be a rush. Today is everything. It's simple. It's beautiful. It's my life. I see it and it's good.
My head is empty. Blank space is what I call it. I want to fill it, but I'm crippled. Crippled by doubt and confusion. What do I want to fill it with? I could put anything in - tv, books, social media, conversation, education, prayer, play. Nothing feels right though. I doubt what I want. I've been through this before. It's all about doubt. Doubt that I'm spending my time the way I want to. Doubt that I can do what I've set out to do. Doubt that I can be who I want to be. So then I freeze. I stop. Hold my breath. Wait. Go numb. What am I doing? Who am I to do this, be this, want this, achieve this? I could quit. I could shrink. I could be quiet. It would be easier. No rejection. No fear. No doubting. Just safe and small.
It feels good to think about quitting. About shrinking. It feels like a relief. It feels simple. I am not a "quitters never win" kind of person. I believe quitting is an option. I believe sometimes quitting is winning. I think our culture has wrapped quitting in shame, but that sometimes quitting is the most liberating and beautiful and brave decision we can make. When we consider quitting anything, we can ask: "What would I do instead?" This is where many of us get stuck. We don't know. We just don't know what we want. We only know that what we're doing isn't working. Or we do know what we want, but we doubt. We doubt our abilities, our support network ("What will people think."), our worthiness. So we freeze.
This is me. What to quit? Am I quitting because it's right or because it's easy? Is it purpose driven or fear driven? Is it the right or easy thing? I doubt my ability to determine. So I freeze. Everything. I'm paralyzed by doubt. I can't move because doubt has come and I'm so ashamed of it that I can't breathe. I have to hide it. No one can know that it has crept in, that I'm unsure, that my footing is slipping. If I don't move, I'll be safe. If I don't move, I won't have to decide.
Decision by indecision. It's a thing. We paralyze ourselves with doubt and fear until the decision is made for us. We decide not to decide. That is a decision. We could choose what we want. We could do the work. We could pray. We could ask for help. We could flip a coin. We could choose, but we decide not to because we are afraid to own our decision. So we let the world decide. We let life slip by. We let our calling go stale. We let our questions go unanswered. We stop looking for solutions. We decide we are not worthy of taking control. We are so ashamed of our doubt and of quitting that we trudge along numb and lifeless. But we don't have to. We can choose. We can decide. We can make our doubt work for us instead of against us. We can quit what's not working. If we can remove the shame we've wrapped doubt and quitting in, they might just lead to everything we always wanted.
I see my doubt and I am considering quitting some things. My doubt is paralyzing me. Telling me not to move. To decide by not deciding. To make me ashamed. But I'm taking my doubt and I'm saying, "I see you and your sharp edge. But I know you can help me as much as you can hurt me." I'm going to let my doubt drive me to ask questions. To pray. To act. My doubt means I'm growing and my growth means I'm living. I can choose not to be ashamed of my doubt. I can choose to quit what's not working and get to the heart of things. I can choose to live a whole and full life and to use my doubt to drive me forward. To ask questions. To do the work. To quit what's draining me. To pursue what's worthy. To let go of shame. To learn and grow. To decide. To live.