Red Vine Spirituality

Taylor K. Arthur balances Bipolar 1 Disorder, marriage, and motherhood with a nitty-gritty faith inspiring a twisted, blissful life.

Bipolar Mama: Magic Enough

It happens during the push times: Thanksgiving through Christmas, the month when Jack, Bram, and I have birthdays within a ten day period, Passover/Easter . . . I go into overdrive. I can feel it: like an engine starting to rev. The feeling begins with panic (how can I possibly do all of this?), then revs, revs, revs me up. I fuel it with deep-down fears, fears I can use to pump enough adrenaline through this lithiumized body and mind to skip naps and stay up a few hours later. I use fear to push me through one more decorating feat, as I stand out in the dark on the front porch (the light bulb broke off in the lamp and we haven’t replaced it yet) and teeter on a dining room chair trying to figure out how to keep these jute bows nestled where I want them in the cedar garland. I use the fear of being overtired and unprepared later to keep me going even though I am tired now. I use fear to plan for a future without minding my own present tense (get it, tense? hee, hee).

Fear, what fear? From the moment they placed Abraham in my arms, I have been afraid. I know every parent is afraid that they won’t measure up, but I have bigger fears. I have feared that one day something will happen and I won’t be able to stay well anymore. I worry that my children will be scarred by this mysterious and frightful illness. I worry that their childhoods will be stolen by adult issues they are not mature enough to handle. I worry that the precious moments of our lives will be dwarfed by insanity. I worry that these most precious treasures I have been entrusted with may be tarnished by me. By me: by this broken heart and faulty brain. And, I allow those fears to push me down an insane road of sleep deprivation and overworking. As if the “perfect” Christmas can fix any of the aforementioned fears?

So last night on the front porch after baking all day while tending to a screaming preschooler and a “where my passy go?” hysterical toddler, while teetering on that dining room chair, in the dark with a jute bow in my hands, I finally said to myself: “I’m tired. I’m going inside, pouring a glass of wine, and sitting down to watch a Christmas movie.” The boys were gone on a secret Christmas shopping trip, and I decided it was high time to start enjoying the peace and quiet that rarely visits this busy house.

So, I did. I sat down. And I slept 9 hours last night. I am so tired of overdrive. I am so tired of worrying that my illness–this HUGE limitation–is going to stamp my children’s childhoods with a big “My mother was crazy and I got jilted” mark. I am so tired of being fearful that my weaknesses will deprive them of the magic of Christmas or beautiful birthdays. I am so done with worrying that I am not enough.

I have been so afraid for so long that my illness would cost my children. But the longer I’m their mama, the more I realize that this crazy brain of mine imagines more fun things to do, whether that is having a gingerbread party or just singing our hearts out to “Peg+Cat”‘s theme song (“Na-na, na-na, na!”) or playing pirates or forts or watching Polar Express for the 400th time and acting like I’ve never seen it before. Their mama may not be the supermom I think she should be, but they sure seem to be happy, and full of magic all their own.

So, I’m going to sit down and watch Christmas movies with my kids. I’m going to sleep. And I am going to do my best to find a peace this Christmas in knowing that just loving my children is magic enough; just being their Mama and loving them the best I can in this present moment is the best Christmas gift I can give them. No one wants tired out, benadryl-ed up Mama. But–geez! That becomes another fear! If that’s where I end up after trying my best to give them a beautiful Christmas, I think they’ll forgive me that as well.

As Linus said unto Charlie Brown,

” . . . Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people . . .” (A Charlie Brown Christmas). FEAR NOT, GREAT JOY, TO ALL. Fear not, great joy, to all.

Fear not, be joyful this Christmas.
Be joyful.


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