Today is Henry’s first day (well, partial day) of day care. I dropped him off at 10, rushed to Jacob’s violin lesson, and now have settled down with journal and poetry in hand. It did take me 20 minutes of searching to locate the journal…I was sure that I had one, somewhere, and was fairly certain that it was green. But I had no idea where I put it or when I last actually used it.
And so now I sit here, at a coffee shop, enjoying a “fancy” soup (cauliflower mushroom…or is it mushroom cauliflower?) and my first solo time in thirteen months (although let’s be real: between the violin lesson and picking up my daughter from school, I have almost 115 minutes). It’s a battle, to stop the thoughts whirring in my head: should I have handled drop-off differently? Should I have fed Henry a snack before we left home? Packed him his favorite snack to have once we arrived? Sent one last email about his schedule and what he likes? Will he nap? Will he be okay?? Should I have just kept him at home???
But then I hear a phrase echo in my head, a phrase that I overheard another mom say to her three kids yesterday on the subway: “What’s done is done.” They repeated it after her, almost automatically – a household mantra, I guess: What’s done is done. So I try it out, saying to myself and the whirling thoughts in my head: What’s done is done. You chose to start him at daycare today. This is how you decided to do it. What’s done is done.
It feels good. I stare down at my open journal, the date on the page. What am I supposed to write? It has been so long since I’ve written in a journal that I’m not sure how to start – and while I have a vague idea that I should write about “how I’m feeling,” it’s been so long since I’ve actually thought about how I’m feeling that I’m not sure, honestly.
In past years, I have used my journal primarily as a place to document my life, the things we did, places we went – only occasionally sharing thoughts or fears. Then as life became busier, it became a place to process – to hash out difficult feelings, deep questions, abiding concerns. And then, as life grew busier still, a place to process only the biggest of traumas or difficulties – no longer a frequent companion but a when-disaster-strikes friend. So, where do I start now? Will it be a place for me to process the decisions I am constantly wrestling with making for our family? (But there are so many, how will I have the time?!) Or a place to record the mundane frustrations and joys of motherhood and marriage? Or perhaps it will be a place where I work out my future – what I want to do over the next five years, what I want to be available for.
Or does it take on a new identity – a place to record prayers offered and answered? I have so many times longed for a physical reminder of all that God has done in my life – a “monument to God” in the way that the Israelites made a pile of stones after they crossed the Jordan River. I have been reading the Old Testament lately, and have been so struck by two things: how faithfully God protected, saved, rescued, provided for, and loved the Israelites, and how quickly and frequently the Israelites forgot all the amazing things that God did for them!
And how much like them I am.
God answers a prayer, and then the following day or week or month I find myself shaking my finger at Him, angry that He hasn’t answered my latest requests in exactly the way that I want or think is best. And this keeps happening.
I am not one who remembers well. How can I remember what He has done for me? All the answered prayers? There’s a reason I have scripture all over my house – on my mirror and refrigerator and in my purse and on index cards in my books – because otherwise I forget what’s true. So perhaps in this era, my journal will be a place where I record all that I ask of God and all that He has done for me.
Whatever I decide to use this journal for, the clock is ticking and my precious minutes alone are eeking away. This is a good and a bad thing. I have yet to make dinner, do the grocery shopping, finish practicing. But I also miss my little one – all the little ones – and I have enjoyed this soup and this slice of time. I savored the taste on my tongue while reading poetry and watching the rain slide down the windows. I successfully shut off the questions and doubts about how I had handled the morning and let the idea for this blog post roll around in my head while I sipped coffee and stared at the steam as it rose from the cup. (Also: I drank coffee while it was still hot!)
Now I have a few minutes still left to put pen on page and try out this thing called “journaling” – if I can start before the second-guessing takes over. Shouldn’t I just go home and make dinner? The floors are filthy and I should have used this time to mop. Maybe I should have gone to a yoga class instead of to lunch...
But I know what to tell myself now: What’s done is done.
And so I start to write.