Listening in the Kitchen

A photo a week throughout 2019: our family, just as we are. 5/52

When the heart is quiet and the ears are open, there is much to hear.

I seem to discover important things in the most unlikely places. Today, I stood in my kitchen, reeling in a compounded mess: life on the go with a large group of children who would much rather stack paper plates on the counter with metal forks between them than sort the stuff, and ditch the trash upon first pickup. We’re still working on some things. They also seem much more interested in using every glass in the house over the course of two meals than making use of their reusable, color-coded water bottles.

I filled a plastic tub with warm, soapy water so the few things needing a bit of a soak could loosen food debris while I tossed napkins and individual plates in our family-size food waste bin. I didn’t really want to be there in the middle of that mess, just like I don’t really want to be here in the last trimester of a surprise pregnancy with multiple diagnoses to complicate things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled for the baby coming, but the health challenges I’ve encountered, and extra layers of complexity it brings to my household have not been my type of fun.

I like things to be easy. Some (weird) things come fairly easy to me. Pregnancy has typically always been a time where I’ve felt a deep sense of purpose, joy, and even in the discomfort, I could offer a whole-hearted yes, I am in. That’s not to say I haven’t struggled through some long, dark stretches, but I’ve found a lightness of spirit, or at the very least, I mostly remember the more positive parts from days gone by.

This has not been one of those weeks. I’ve been diagnosed (on top of my other diagnosis) with gestational diabetes. I’ve had it once before. It’s not entirely unfamiliar, but it has been entirely discouraging me this week. It’s like all my efforts to get an A on this test have landed me exactly in D- status (I won’t claim an F, as honestly there is so much out of my control here), and now I have this huge red slash through my paper.

I will be fine. The baby will be fine, but there are swirls of worries and what if I can’t manage this without medication? thoughts (which I really don’t want to add into my already high-maintenance daily routine), and how will I maintain an ultra-strict diet and disciplined exercise schedule on top of everything? I still have seven other people to feed. I already have to keep a sort-of nutty schedule in order to keep in our household on the rails.

I’m still struggling to embrace what it looks like to care for myself in the most basic ways when I’m so used to charging through walls without a thought to what my body and soul really need on a daily basis. It is a top-tier struggle to put my needs on the list at all, let alone near the top of my priorities.

I’ve always loved the meaning of names and have taken extreme care to choose names for my children that reflect lovely or poignant meanings. I’ve always had mixed feelings about my own name, not because I don’t like it, but because the meanings I’ve found for it could lean different directions based on some changes in context. For example, one meaning is “industrious, or striving to excel”, which is great if you’re talking about awesomely impressive productivity, not as great if you’re talking about “tries way too hard at most things and doesn’t know when to quit”.

But today as I stood in the kitchen—doing one of my least favorite jobs and preparing food I wasn’t all that thrilled to be eating in order to hopefully keep my blood sugar in check—I randomly remembered another meaning of my name that I came across some years ago.

Emily also means diligent one. 

Sometimes names are reflective of someone’s characteristics, and sometimes, a name is something that can whisper to your soul a small reminder of who you are and what you’re called to.

All week, I’ve been asking myself, how can I possibly do thisstay on top of injections, blood sugar checks, stringent meals, regular movement, reasonable bedtime, running a householdfor three more months? 

The whisper back was, be diligent, one day at a time. 

I am industrious. I am productive and striving and proud of how much I care about things, even if its annoying to other people who would like to see me chill out. But I am not diligent in lots of things—only those things that land on the top of my priority list, which as I already mentioned, often doesn’t account for my daily personal needs. Certainly not in things requiring deep grit and perseverance that don’t come at least somewhat easily to me.

For whatever reason, body-related things and physical care for myself is something that just isn’t easy for me. For years, I’ve practiced needing as little as possible, and have convinced myself I can sleep when I’m dead, I can get in shape later, and I can get through the right-now challenges if I handle my life a little more efficiently, or simplify whatever requires a little too much effort from me.

Well, not this time. There is no coasting through this, and with this little whisper—an invitation to rise to the meaning of this one little word. Can’t go over it, can’t go around it, but you can bet, I’m about to go through it…I’m going on a hunt to learn how to value my body as deeply as I value my soul, and apparently, muscles only grow strong if you use them again and again.

I’m about to flex my diligence muscle as I prepare for the arrival of my new son.


1501. new bag perfectly suited to what I need to carry around these days, 1502. support from unexpected people, 1503. evening showers, 1504. clear sinuses, 1505. prayers by kids, 1506. favorite snacks, 1507. painting with toddlers, 1508. marital teamwork, 1509. kids presentations done, 1510. little hands slipped in mine




More of the Story: Finding a New Normal
January 4, 2019
April 22, 2013
Rainy Day Sillies
February 23, 2014

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