This post should actually be called “How Losing Control Turned Me Granola”. But that’s too long. So we’ll just blame India.
I’ve always had a tiny bit of hippie in me. I wrote emo songs on my guitar in college. I tried making my own deodorant in our extremely poor newly-married season. But really, I liked the idea of natural food and products only if they were convenient. And just the site of “DIY” on any Pinterest pin would send me scrolling on. I was not a Do-It-Yourself kind of girl.
Why do it if someone else can do it for me?? (Can I get an amen?!)
Wellllll… what happened next was our move to Small Town India, up in the mountains, where we count ourselves blessed to be able to find real cheese, pasteurized milk (albeit buffalo), and cereal. These really are the most important things to my family, so we’re good to go. But forget organic, grass-fed, DHA milk, coconut yoghurt, or a delicious bottle of kombucha.
But lets go back to before the family’s move to India.
So here I was, Miss Independent, who had conquered overseas-living in her single days, grew up in Belgium, lived in India, spent years traveling alone internationally. I moved to Colorado with my new husband, continuing to enjoy my independence and adaptability. Then two years into marriage one of my dreams came true in the shape of a gorgeous baby boy we call J-bug. I was filled with awe and love and thankfulness. But as soon as we drove him home from the hospital it hit me: I had never changed a poopy diaper! A gurgle at night would send me flying to his crib. His cry would send me into a royal panic, my armpits would sweat and my breath would get ragged and I was suddenly the most incapable woman on the planet.
The day I took my mom to the airport J-bug was two weeks old. I think my exact words were, “Don’t go. I don’t think I can do this.”
The truth is, I am slightly motherhood-challenged. Motherhood comes naturally to some, and to me it does not. I have friends who are sleep-deprived, sure, but relaxed and happy from the day their little human arrives. They just seem to instinctively know how to soothe, swaddle, make baby food, entertain, and discipline their baby. My kids are now three and one and I’m only starting to think, OK, I’ve got this!
I am just discovering the root of all this baby-raising insecurity: control.
As soon as I find a method for soothing, it stops working. As soon as we get a routine, it changes. As soon as I think I’ve grasped a stage with my son or daughter, it slips between my fingers and they’re onto a new stage. I can’t control them. I can’t control my day. I can’t control what will happen or what they agree to eat or if they’ll get sick. It is nerve-racking!!!
OH YEAH…. and then I moved to India! In the land of “what to do?”, if something is broken you don’t fix it. You accept it. The passivity causes angry culture-shock to the highest degree (at least for every westerner I have observed), and one goes from capable adult to uninformed, incapable foreigner with no words to express yourself.
So this motherhood-challenged momma had figured out a few good things (baby food pouches, strollers, and 7-to-7 sleep schedules), when we arrived at our apartment on the steep (this word does not depict but will have to do) side of an 8000 foot mountain on which a linebacker with the world’s best all-terrain stroller would not be capable of pushing a baby. A world in which dinner is at 10pm and babies must co-sleep to survive the winter with no central heat and/or power. Goodbye strollers, baby food and 12 hour sleep routines. Goodbye independence (the mountain paths made it difficult to leave home alone with two babies). Goodbye grocery options. Goodbye control.
And then, without boring you with the details, our life was filled with stress. In this new life with two tinies I developed anxiety. If I was home alone with the kids and couldn’t reach my husband by phone I spiraled upward into a major panic attack and had crazy (serious) considerations of walking out the door to go…away. I needed help.
We went to wonderful counselors in Thailand who love God and gave us such great guidance. We returned and made changes that helped create routine, that made us both healthier, that gave me time and space to find myself again.
I started journaling again. I started drawing out these verses and mantras that the Holy Spirit would give me in my quiet times. I cut sugar and lowered my caffein intake. I walked J-bug to school each day for exercise and fresh air, and I tried to catch some sun. I cut out all of the extra work responsibilities i had piled on. And through all of this change I could breathe and I could relax. I could sit on the floor and build legos with J-bug. I could explore the paths outside with my one-year-old adventurer, Miss E.
And then a friend told me these days she was making kombucha. Oh, how I missed kombucha!! She gave me a SCOBY and there I was googling exact directions on growing a healthy, naturally fermented drink in giant glass jars around my house. Then somehow I was given kefir grains and I started making that. And then my deodorant from America ran out so… I made my own and I love it! My kids get sick and I slather them with oregano essential oil and put homemade garlic drops in their ears. I started a flower box outside my front door. Ok, I asked my neighbor to plant them and I just admire them. But it’s something!
When we returned to our counselor last month I found myself oozing happiness and pride as I told him about all the new things I was growing, baking, cultivating. He told us that my new “granola” ways are healing my emotions and helping me to manage the stress of mothering in the Indian mountains. Because, he said, they give me something small that I can control.
Every week I find more peace and more hope within, and Jesus gives me new creative desires. As I learn to grow kefir and sketch watercolor pictures for my walls, I am learning to relax, to create, and to laugh again. And I see it overflowing to my two tiny ones– the calm, the laughter, the joy.
I am in awe of this God I follow, who leads me by peaceful waters, He restores my soul. I may be motherhood-challenged, but I can be filled with joy and and the knowledge of God, and that alone makes for happy kids.