How easy is it to get completely trapped in the chaotic whirlwind of life? We fill our schedule with an impossible list of to do’s: working, taking care of our homes, planning meals, attempting to keep tiny humans alive. All the while, we’re dreaming of what we’d like our future to be, knowing that we are barely staying afloat to survive the present moment, let alone focus on our future.
Sound a little bit too familiar?
Over the past few months, I allowed myself to get swept up into the chaos. Two months ago, my daughter was born. We are beyond thrilled and blessed to have become a family of four, but life with two children under the age of one and a half can be a bit hectic, to say the least. I thought there was a steep learning curve after my first child was born, but that was nothing compared to caring for two babies.
Oh, my babies! They fill my heart with so much joy and laughter – but also an unquenchable thirst to have a few moments of time alone to recharge my weary mom soul.
Those moments are few and far between. In the midst of our chaotic life, I started to lose myself. There were times when I felt like the whole world was moving all around me, but I was standing still, watching as everyone and everything else moved forward. That new mom exhaustion had hit me, and it hit me hard.
And then today, something was different. Today, I was able to spent more than a few brief moments in solitude – I was given two hours outside to garden, all by myself.
One of the things that got lost in the chaos of our lives was the garden. We made grand plans for our garden this year, and those plans slowly diminished as our seedlings were struck down by a random day in the 90s or flooded by rain showers the weatherman happened to miss. And then, there were about two weeks when we thought we might be trying to sell our house and moving, so we let our garden continue to fall to the wayside.
Our back porch has been covered with bags of potting soil, handheld shovels and rakes, empty flower pots, and those black plastic seed starting trays full of struggling seedlings. Maybe during nap time, I’d think. And, like always, nap time was time filled with dirty dishes, laundry, and the occasional chance for me to nap as well. Tomorrow evening, after the kids go to bed. Then tomorrow evening would roll around and instead we’d be paying our bills, making grocery lists, and cleaning up dozens of building blocks and plastic balls off the living room floor. Despite the constant reminder staring at us from the kitchen window, all of our garden supplies lay untouched and abandoned for weeks on end.
A couple days ago, I was playing in the backyard with my littles. My son took off running towards our raised garden bed with his plastic rake and shovel in hand. I helped him climb into the garden and he ‘helped’ me till the soil. As we worked the ground together, I realized that I had gotten so caught up in life that I had let myself and my dreams for this garden fade away.
Last year, we had a mediocre yield, which was to be expected considering we were planting where there was no topsoil and the dirt we planted in was namely that, dirt. We had very little compost or other organic matter to add the the soil and our yield struggled because of that. After we harvested our vegetables in the fall, we dumped all of the compost we’d made over the summer on top of our dirt pile, and as we raked (and raked and raked) leaves, we piled those on top as well. Digging into the garden a few days ago, it was clear that our efforts were not in vain. We no longer had a raised garden bed of dirt; we had real soil!
Today, I was able to dig my hands into that rich, deep soil and I could feel the life within it. I held the soil, loose in my fingers, and breathed in deeply, letting the smell of the earth fill my lungs. And just like that, the chaos ceased. It was just me, my worn out gloves, and the soil. No one needed a diaper changed or a bottle. No one was fussing or cooing, beckoning my attention. I had the moment I needed to just be me. And just like that, I feel like I snapped back into myself, for now.
Not everyone needs a garden, but I need this garden. I need the chance to work with my hands and pour my heart into watering the soil and pulling out the weeds. I want to see that the work of my hands can nourish our family – that the life I raise outside can further sustain our life inside, seated around the dinner table.
As one of my dear friends pointed out, there are dozens of ways to fill the “home” part of our homestead. We may not have a large plot of land full of animals or market gardens and our home isn’t full of the farm decor found at Target. But we’re a real family and we fill our home with real moments of chaos each and every day.
We fill our home with laughter, watching as my son runs through the house filling his arms with as many little knick-knacks as he can possibly carry. We fill our home with stress as we vent about a long day at work or the baby who refuses to nap. We fill our home with good food and sit around the same beat up white kitchen table together each night. We fill our home with messes. Milk is spilled on the couch. The dog tracks in mud. All of those little messes turn our house into a home and our home into a homestead because we embrace the chaos that comes naturally when nurturing our life as a family.
Our garden plans are drastically different than what we had dreamed back in dreary February, but to be fair, so much of our life is drastically different than it was back then. Our life and our family is continually changing, and it’s chaotic. I’m grateful that our life is not stagnant. With all of the chaos, there is great joy – and great stress, if we’re honest with ourselves. But in the midst of chaos there are also moments when the world stands still, and the chaos can cease for the briefest second. When that moment happens, breath in deep, thank the Lord, and find yourself once again.
May your life and your heart be full – chaos and all.