Our friends greeted us with a feast of London broil and corn salsa. Another friend who’d just returned from travels joined us. Between anticipating the birth of a first child, living in Ireland, and returning from the West Coast, we all had plenty to catch up on.
We received an impromptu invitation that night to another friend’s birthday party. She’d invited just close friends, and we were delighted to still be among them. We were so in sync with the friends at her party that they hardly even asked about our time in Portland – we caught up as though we’d seen each other regularly over the past three years.
Because of the depth of these friendships, we figured it wouldn’t be a strain to lean into them during this season of uncertainty. For the most part, it wasn’t.
But having four adults live together in a townhouse when two of them are expecting their first child and two are living in total upheaval was a bit overoptimistic.
Our friends were incredibly gracious to entertain the idea, let alone to welcome us for three months.
I’d naïvely thought because the baby was still in the womb, there wouldn’t be much transition or stress. No sleep deprivation or attachment struggles or parental anxiety.
How’s a girl to know that frequent trips to the bathroom and the discomfort of a watermelon rolling around in your stomach lead to lack of sleep? Or that painful tingling in your appendages and juggling regular doctor visits can lead to parental anxiety?
I anticipated our friend wanting to nest, but I thought that meant painting a nursery and decorating it with cute furniture.
Little did I know nesting could mean selling the majority of your furniture on Craigslist, reorganizing the entire house, and covering the floors with baby gifts as you deliberate which ones to return.
This all makes perfect sense to me now. But at the time, I was too disoriented and overwhelmed to understand.
I imagine the friends we lived with were experiencing something akin to the phenomenon I experience right before going on a long trip.
Whenever I leave for more than three days, I scramble to clean up messy rooms, run errands, return borrowed items, wash clothes, vacuum seal frozen food, and reply to emails. I want to have everything as orderly as possible when I return.
Of course the last few months before having a baby would be similar. Who knows when you’ll have time to complete unfinished projects again?
And that hand-me-down furniture you’ve been wanting to get rid of for years? It’s time! You’re an adult now, for crying out loud – you’re having a baby!
I’m starting to get it now, but I was clueless at the time.
I had planned to bless the friends we lived with by making meals, helping set up the nursery, shoveling snow, and helping out in other ways. But we were all so scattered and stretched that coordination was a struggle.
When Ben and I went outside to shovel snow, our friend had already finished clearing most of it. When I planned to cook dinner, we struggled to find a night we’d all be home. When we offered to help paint the nursery, our friends had it under control.
I found myself completely unable to bless these friends in return. Not wanting to be a burden, I subconsciously started trying to make myself disappear. I literally tiptoed around the house at times. In trying to be accommodating and likeable, I sometimes strained my voice without realizing it, making it high pitched and, ultimately, irritating.
Without even realizing it, I squashed myself in hopes of pleasing others.
Meanwhile, I sought to find some sort of regularity amidst the chaos and thought writing would be my steady labor. When a desk emerged from beneath piles of belongings in what would one day be the nursery, I had the perfect writing spot. That’s when I wrote the January 14th blog post.
Days later, my computer crashed. I spent an entire week on the phone with technical repair services. As soon as my computer started working again, it was time to move everything – including the desk – out of the baby’s room.
My next writing spot was the dining room table, which shared an open space with the living room area. I listened to instrumental music on my iPod to drown out the noise of television and conversation, and I cleared the table before dinner each night.
Within a week, I came home to a table covered with glasses and china from the kitchen hutch that had just been posted on Craigslist.
So I tried writing at a nearby coffee shop, which, as it turned out, had no outlets for customers. My computer battery lasts all of two minutes, so I flitted between other various coffee and tea shops, seeking a steady writing space.
The cost of coffee adds up though, particularly when your income is nonexistent. So coffee gradually became reserved for internet time devoted to job searching. By that time, I was so worn out I didn’t have words to capture anyways.
Hence the eight month hiatus from blogging, accompanied by a few emotional meltdowns.