27 May 2011

Welcoming the Other

It's hard to welcome her, sometimes, and not just when she's fussing and demanding. Sometimes, it's even hard when she's spectacular, full of magic, learning to jump in the middle of the living room.

When I'm tired, when my heart hurts, when life weighs a lot, I want to hide behind my wall, close the door,  and sit by myself for a while until life stops hurting again. And she's there, always there, needing and asking. It's like her very existence demands that I come out, that I attend, that I reach out around that door and hold her little hands while she tries to show me her latest conquest.

I'm an introvert, and I need time behind those walls. They aren't bad, don't represent hurts or shame or pain, just my own need to get away and go somewhere to process the things going on around me, because that's the way I am. But she needs me, needs me to open my heart and my very self and be present.

It's easy to fall into a halfway sort of presence, to mindlessly look up from my book or stick my head out of my room when she calls, make sure she's ok, clap if that's what's called for, and never really come out from behind the walls. Much harder, especially with first-trimester exhausting haunting me, to put down the book (or never pick it up in the first place), get up from my chair, and join in games I don't entirely understand with dolls and balls and cars and a barn.

And that's just the truth of the situation. I remind myself of this a lot, when I'm struggling and I feel like I should be doing better. Real hospitality, hospitality of the soul, isn't easy or natural for most introverts, and the need for constant hospitality, even for one who is so precious and darling and loved, is a drain.

Sometimes there aren't easy answers, aren't solutions that work for everyone, and so I pray every day for patience and peace and energy, and that already I would be teaching her to balance her needs for time with me and time alone. And I ask for help, so I can get a little bit of time here and there to retreat and rejuvenate. An imperfect solution in an imperfect world, you might say, but one that works for me.


Sharon Wang said...

Sarah, thank you for making me feel normal!!! I try to read some each day while DD is playing in the same room with me. I too look up from my book and talk to her, but then sometimes I wonder if I'm depriving her by not being 100% fully there. At times, it is such a drain, no matter how darling they are. So thankful at your honesty and ability to express your feelings (and often mine too!)

christianne said...

Real hospitality, hospitality of the soul, isn't easy or natural for most introverts . . .

I can relate to this so well. And even though I don't experience the constant request for hospitality that a child asks of you, I am familiar with that half-hearted presence that tempts me when anyone or anything asks for my attention when I'm not willing to give it or just longing for what my introversion sorely needs.

I always respect the honesty you bring to your writings here. And given the scarcity of time and space for yourself and for processing it sounds like you have, I receive each entry here as a gift, knowing the time and space to write it was likely hard-won.

Joelle said...

Sarah, you are so wise! And human. Beautiful human woman. I appreciate so much your honesty. Seeking balance myself in intimacy of relationship. Not sure how to walk that line, but sure that Love will even out the imbalances and Grace will make up for many unintentioned hurts. You are full of Love and Grace, dear one.

Heather said...

Thank you for sharing this. Some days, I feel like Wonder Woman. Other days, I want to hide away. I wonder what happened to me. Then I feel guilty for even thinking that. Everyone says you have to take care of yourself to take care of someone else, but some days, that's just not possible. I guess this is where God's strength comes in. If he's taking care of me, then I can give fully. But I'm still learning how to depend on him in that way.