Yesterday was a sleepy day. Jack and Eliza woke up at 5:30, the snow turned to rain which made the town a giant sloshy puddle, I kept Jack out way past nap time to try to consign clothes and toys and he, in turn, turned into a giant sloshy puddle on the floor of Plato’s closet. We stayed out too late last night which had Jack alternating from dancing like a wild man to crying like a wild man. Why would I do all these things when the day started out sleepy? Good question.
Also, I totally shot someone down who asked to carry my bag to my car for me as I carried sleeping Eliza and should-be-sleeping-but-instead-wailing Jack to the car yesterday. It may have been because I heard someone behind the girl who offered whisper “HELP her!” to her before she asked. So me and my pride trudged to my car carrying babies and bags and then the person next to me hit my car door as they reversed which pushed me into Jack as I buckled him in. Her shocked and smiling face met my frustrated bitchy face and I realized it was the universe waking me up. “Hey dummy- go home! Your kid is tired, you’re tired, you’re going to be out late tonight- GO HOME.” So, I listened. Work in progress.
Yesterday was a day of realizing how often I let myself become a robot. We gather with friends on Monday nights to eat together, laugh together, juggle each other’s babies, and explore in more depth who Jesus is. It’s really great. But by the end of the last night, once we had Jack and Eliza strapped in the car and were heading home, I was so so tired. Jack turned into a broken record, “I want the blue cup, I want the blue cup, I want the blue cup….” and I felt it happen- something switched inside me. I felt like even my voice changed into a droning, robotic tone- The. blue. cup. is. not. in. the. car. here. is. a. yellow. one. please. stop. repeating. yourself. i. hear. you.
As I sat awkwardly holding a pacifier in Eliza’s mouth and reaching around mindlessly handing Jack things at the same time, I realized what I was doing. I had let my brain and my heart go numb. I let the things that make me human be pushed aside so I could function without feeling. This is my defense mechanism, my go-to in awkward social situations, or when I’m tired or overwhelmed. If I’m around others I start asking shallow questions and giving shallow answers (How are you? I’m good, how are you?). It’s easier than digging deep and figuring out how I’m really doing or taking the time to hear how the other person is doing. That requires being very human, caring, investing. But if I’m not doing those things, I’m living blindly, living alone, surrounded by a bunch of people who may as well be robots because I’m not allowing them to enter into my life and I’m not allowing myself to enter into theirs.
This is funny, because one of the things I appreciate most about God, is that he didn’t create us to be robots. We aren’t forced to love him or follow him. He didn’t make humanity to blindly follow him, he allowed it to be a choice. He allows what makes us human to decide how we view him. If it was any other way, it wouldn’t be legitimate, it would just be fake and shallow- something we do because we don’t know any different.
I have this ability- the ability to choose how I act, react, how much I care and invest. But I willingly turn it off in an effort to make life easier. I zone out in meaningful conversations or don’t listen to Jack and reflect about why he is acting the way he is and how I can help versus just pacifying until bedtime.
This morning I looked through a couple of pictures I took last night. I thought about Eliza being held and loved on genuinely by people that we’ve only know a few months. And I trust them, I can walk out of the room and know she’s in safe hands and feels so loved and cared for. I thought about Jack eating a chocolate chip muffin out a friend’s hands- it was a mess, Jack was picking chocolate off of our friend’s fingers and they both were smiling so big. Something about it was so crazy beautiful to me. At the end of the night a mini jam session started. Jack and his best bud Kai were playing the bongo together, periodically taking breaks to eat chips off of it or to kiss it…. for whatever 2 year old reasons. Another friend’s 4 year old was strumming a guitar and a couple of adults sang and played too. It feels important to note that the jam session was started by the adults and they willingly invited the kids in, not the other way around. Jack danced and jumped and banged… and felt. He felt- he was fully engaged. He was also fully engaged as he threw his hat off when I tried to tell him it was time to go. And when he asked for the blue cup 50 times.
Kids are on all of the time. They feel, they haven’t learned the adult art of roboting yet. They are in the moment, every moment. And while that may mean meltdowns and crying, it’s much better than apathy and indifference. I realized last night that I appreciate Jack and Eliza’s emotions, even when they are driving me crazy, because they are allowing themselves to feel. If I could only safeguard this for the rest of their lives, to teach them that even when it hurts, it’s better to feel and work through it than to shut it off and push it down.
When we go into robot mode we have two choices. Either we stay there, forever, rejecting the very way we were made, or we have to turn our human back on. And when we turn it back on, the things we pushed aside come right back. And then the choice is in front of us again. Living ain’t easy but it sure is beautiful. I saw it last night, I see it every day if I let myself. And we have each other to share in the hard parts and the beautiful parts if we let ourselves.
Today I am rejecting the robot. Even if it means I have to go have my own tantrum in another room, I’m going to try to allow myself to be present in every moment instead of being mindless and numb. Pushing to be present is something I’ve desired for a long time and today I’m going to give it my best attempt to knock down one of my biggest hurdles to achieving it.
You may have this in the bag, but if you don’t, try rejecting your robot too. Let’s do this human thing together, feeling and living and supporting each other in the most meaningful ways possible.