In which I can feel like Sisyphus (again)

Do you ever feel like Sisyphus? 

He’s the guy in Greek mythology that was sentenced to push a boulder up a hill for the rest of his life. Every time that he came near to reaching the summit, the gods would merely roll it back to the bottom so that he was never free from the work but never finished and he must always labour in the full knowledge of the futility of his work.

If that sounds familiar, luv, me, too.

When I’m picking up for the eleventy-billionth time, when every one needs to eat and it seems like we just ate, when we are wondering what to do with our one wild and precious life that sure isn’t feeling very wild or precious right about now, when the laundry is piled unfolded and someone spills their full glass of milk on the floor I just washed and the bickering and noise enters its second hour and the house is too hot and there isn’t much time for the things that I want to do on the day off, I feel like Sisyphus, futile, pushing a rock up a hill that will never summit.

(I know that you know that I love my life, that, most days, I flat-out enjoy it so I’m going to try very hard not to qualify or explain this away but yesterday, it all felt futile and my very skin prickled with resentment.)

I began to wonder if homeschooling was the right decision because boarding school sure looked good right about now.

But I made it through the too-hot day with my too-hot temper and at supper I was completely disarmed because every one said thank you and they meant it.

At night, we crawled into our bed and Evelynn woke up to nurse. Brian was propped up on his elbow watching us. She moves like a kitten when she’s nursing, her little fingers opening and closing on my skin, her milky elbows slowly turning to showcase every dimple, small sighs and groans breathing. Her long heavy lashes lay on her plump cheeks and I can feel the pull of her gathering everything she needs from my own imperfect self. I swear my heartbeat calms when my milk lets down and even my bones exhale.

“Oh, now that’s something you never want to forget,” my husband breathed into my hair, his eyes full on both of us laying on our sides towards each other.

I have eleventy-billion of these moments a day too, seemingly small, times when my breath catches and I have no camera or pen nearby so I’m going to have to rely on my something in my soul remembering it forever because it’s a step up a mountain, a roll of the rock of my own stubbornness, and I don’t have any gods at the top, pushing me back to the bottom, laughing at my futile efforts.

No, there is welcome and release in the work of it, in the working of the muscles of selflessness and service, giving.  The truth of it all is that I do have eleventy-billion chances in a day to choose love, to breathe out wonder, to love, to serve, to choose life and life more abundant, working out who I was meant to be all along and meeting something beautiful at every summit, never futile, “if anything matters, everything matters.”

A repost from the archives.

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  • Ed_Cyzewski

    Beautiful. I read your blog with new eyes now that we’re expecting a baby this summer! 

    I was thinking something similar but on a smaller scale the other day. I had just cleaned up the kitchen and washed the floor when I realized that I needed to bake bread. I was sort of put out at the thought of all that flour dropping all over my clean floor… However, that’s such a goal-oriented view of life, rather than just being grateful for those moments when I can bake bread for friends or welcome my wife home with a semi-clean kitchen. Even those moments of cleaning or baking are mine to enjoy, not endeavours (I’ll spell it your way since your blog is technically in Canada) that depend on a particular outcome. 

  • Bethany Bassett

    So beautiful. And yes, I get it — the pendulum swing between futility (how can they need baths AGAIN?!?!?!) and glory (the forever soul-memories made in those quiet moments). Motherhood is such a tidal thing with ebbs and flows, and you captured it perfectly.

  • Kristin

    Thanks. These are not re-run blogs to us newbies :) 

  • Jessica

    I think about poor Sisyphus at least three times a week (usually when I do dishes, laundry or pick up toys). My other favorite is Groundhog Day, when I feel like I wake up and do the exact same thing over and over again with so little variation, it seems like it will never end. I like reading some of your archived blogs, having just recently discovered yours!

  • Stephanie

    You described nursing exactly right. Exactly.