I thought I understood weariness. Particularly as the mom of three children, having experienced and survived those first few terrifying weeks after each was born, I believed that I fully comprehended the meaning of tired.
I clearly remember being up with my firstborn in the middle of the night, in a neighborhood that was dark and silent and peacefully asleep, feeling the fatigue deep down in my incompetent bones and wondering if I would ever feel well rested again. That exhaustion mutated into inexplicable irritation with my husband, and on that night, as I rocked the infant that had rocked my world, I methodically divided up our shared belongings in my head, like the stingiest divorce lawyer during heated arbitration. My spouse could have the sofa, but I was taking the dining room table. The casual dinnerware I suppose would have to go with him because everyone knows that the woman gets the fine china.
And the crazy thing about this train of thought that kept me occupied until our fussy two week old finally, with God’s great mercy, closed his sweet little eyes, was that I felt completely justified in my aggravation. I didn’t know exactly why I was so angry at the man who could make me weak in the knees with just a look, but what I did know, without a hormonal doubt, was that somehow he was to blame.
After a few continuous hours of sleep later that night, I woke up and all was well in my unstable world. The hormone monster was back in his cage, and I was able to spend the daylight hours marveling how good God was to bless me with such a wonderful husband. John, however, regarded me with apprehensive and watchful eyes, wondering when the next mood would swing, knocking his head high in the air and over the right-field fence.
Those middle of the night cries would wake me each night, the sound transported shrilly through the sardonic baby monitor glowing like the worst kind of kryptonite, and in a sleepwalk stupor I would find my way to the nursery, to the same rocking chair, and begin once more the task of splitting our marital possessions as amicably as I thought reasonable.
This same cycle of existence during those tumultuous days of infancy occurred until the hours of uninterrupted sleep outnumbered the missed episodes of Friends. Eventually routine and rest and restoration of balanced hormones replaced the unwarranted annoyance towards my innocent significant other, but I’ve never forgotten that feeling of indescribable fatigue which transformed into various emotions that suggested that my head, at any given moment, might just spin off of my body.
For the past 5 years, this type of tiredness has only been a distant, hazy memory. That is, until our trip to Walt Disney World last week.
This was the third time our family has visited the theme park that curiously inspires grown men to don Mickey Mouse ears, Goofy themed t-shirts and fanny packs spilling over with fast passes and autograph books. It is a joyful place, complete with non-stop music and smiling staff (cast) members, ice cream cones and light-up toys sold at every street corner.
We knew this trip would be different than the others. Our plan (Can you hear God chuckling?) was to visit all four of the major theme parks, a task never attempted before because of the ages of our children and the mandatory naps weaved throughout previous stays. Four parks in six days didn’t seem inappropriately ambitious, especially considering the high levels of energy exhibited on a daily basis by our three offspring.
But it wasn’t the children we should have been worried about.....
(part two tomorrow )