On December 26th, Zoya and I got in the car and she said she was so excited because we were going on an adventure. That statement announced the beginning of a new season for us that really began the day before when we said yes to a sister-in-law’s invitation to go zip lining.
The seasons don’t always change with the changing seasons, but this year they very closely tracked the seasons. Fall was brutal. If I wasn’t at work, I was almost always home laying on the couch. I felt a great need to preserve energy, and nearly every encounter zapped my energy. I was enjoying my job, but it took all I had. I don’t know why this season came when it did. I don’t know if it is the dying season of autumn, or starting an intense job that I loved, or a faith crisis, or Zoya beginning to ask the hows and whys of her daddy’s death. Some things are caused by triggers, but other seasons have to come regardless of any trigger and must be struggled through.
Our new season of life and adventure did not start on December 25th, completely out of the blue. Things were gradually improving. The scriptures of hope in dark times during Advent rang true and they led me into remembering the things God had done in the past, especially in the days surrounding Shah’s death. “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.” Psa 143:5. The Bible is full of scripture encouraging us to remember things God has done in the past, so that we don’t loose heart and fall into despair. I didn’t remember those verses and follow them, but when I did start to remember just why my faith was so full in the days, weeks and months following Shah’s death, my hope began to return.
I also started making some deliberate conscious choices to do things that bring energy and avoided things that brought extra pain. I hosted Yalda and planned a trip for Zoya and I after Christmas. I say that cautiously. There are choices we can make to some points in a grief depression journey that can really help, but there is also a tendency from the outside to think a person grieving just needs to exercise their willpower, make better choices, and start moving. Grief can be like an injury. You have to be very sensitive to know when you need rest, when you need pain medicine, and when its time to start rehab.
I started realizing it was time to stop living with a scarcity mentality. For me, the scarcity mentality wasn’t related to finances, but was totally related to interacting with others. If you are an Enneagram person, you will understand why I thought I was a 5 during this season. Everything was evaluated with this is mind: if I go to this party, take this phone call, or spend time with this person, will it leave me with enough energy to do the must-dos in my life.
There are days and seasons you really do need to protect yourself from those who deplete you. A sprained ankle wont heal if you keep running on it. An injured spirit won’t heal if you keep pouring in to people and don’t refill. Never forget that Jesus frequently withdrew from people for periods of time. You aren’t stronger than he is.
But once you have been filled, it is time to step out, free of fear and live again.
Zoya and I had an amazing time over Christmas break both while traveling and back home. I knew I was doing better when I started carefully tracking the weather again. When I’m just planning to come home and lay on the couch, it doesn’t matter if it is warm or cold, rainy or dry. Now that we are living life again, I need to know what day will be warm and best for a hike and when it’s going to be cold and rainy and we can rest and make homemade playdough.
Work started back in full force, the first week in January. I have been relieved to find that it wasn’t just the holiday break that allowed us to enjoy being alive again. True, it is easier to enjoy life while on vacation, but even in the midst of an insanely busy January work schedule, Zoya and I are continuing to embrace life. It is a constant balancing act. The widow mom life is not a life that can be lived without hard focused effort. When work encroaches on living you have to know when to accept it for the hard busy season it is and when to set a boundary to protect the time you have to live with your child.
Having to postpone a birthday self-care hike to speak at the airport, five years from the day your husband got his visa, knowing it would trigger deep sobs, because it was also so close to the anniversary of the day you picked up your husband at that same airport when he flew to the US for your wedding, was as brutal as it comes.
Everything in me wanted to say no to this event, but sometimes, lots of times, you have to do ridiculously hard things. You accept that we must do hard things, you look for the silver lining (in this case that the tears that had been lurking for days finally fell), and you surrender with the hope that things will not always be this way.
Other times you have to set immediate boundaries and say “No. This is my time to rest and heal and play with Zoya. I will not allow these days with Zoya to be stolen by other responsibilities that should take less priority.”
Right now I’m grieving the loss of a dream to be a stay at home mother. I never had a relationship that got past the third date without my sharing that this was my goal. I am blessed that there are parts of my job that that I can do with Zoya, but that doesn’t take away the knife in my heart over the unfulfillment of this dream. The exhaustion of single parenting only strengthens this ache.
But strangely enough, during a movie preview that Zoya and I saw while on a Mary Poppins Returns adventure, I was reminded of the importance of living the tension of asking God for the desires of your heart and surrendering to his will, regardless of the answer.
Very inspiring. Hugs.
Your honest expression of your needs, desires, joys, heartaches, and hopes are all heard by our Father and are an encouragement to others. You are not alone.