Fumbling through February

It's mid-afternoon on a snowy Sunday. The kids are napping, and their father is preparing for tomorrow's evening class. After a night and a day of playing nursemaid/laundress, due to my daughter's recent bout with a (hopefully) 24-hour stomach flu, I could probably use a nap myself, but it's also my birthday, so a little blogging appears to be in order. Besides, sleeping with a head full of words is tricky even without the interference of sunlight reflecting off of mounds of fresh snow, nevermind those four cups of coffee coursing through my veins.

I have been struggling, of late, to find favour with February. I've never been overly fond of the shortest of months, though it's only been this year that I've delved much into why. I believe I find fault with its mutability; the weather may be fair, or very foul, part of it will likely be in Lent, but the actual beginning may fluctuate greatly, even its number of days remains inconstant. You just can't depend on February for much of anything.

It's been a troubling thought for an aspiring midwife - I don't much care for inconsistency, and yet I'm aiming for a career that caters to the unpredictable.  Babies come when they come, and the midwifery model of care is loath to mess with it for something as mundane as one's vacation schedule, let alone a wish for regular working hours. I've worried how I'll handle being on call. Will I sit at home and stew, or will I learn to make conditional plans, to fit in tasks in pieces that can be interrupted, to find a balance between doing too much and doing too little? I think back to how impatiently I awaited birthing my own two babes; will I do better when it becomes routine, when it's the twinges of someone else's uterus I'm trying to interpret rather than my own?

With such thoughts in mind, I've traveled through February with open eyes. And lo, there are patterns to be found within the anticipated chaos; predictable sequences, inserted at intervals beyond my control and ready to be enjoyed if only one can put them into focus: slow swirls of snow alleviating a grey sky, sun slanting across the sidewalk at the blessedly late hour of 5:30 pm, my son's adorable head-bobble as he trots merrily along, my daughter's playtime synopses that grow in complexity and hilarity at equal rates, all welcome interruptions to my perceptions of doom and gloom. Add some lovely visits with family and friends, some long awaited, some last-minute, and my life drums on to an irregular rhythm that's surprisingly freeing. Sure, there were still moments of moody inertia, afternoons of dreary weather and fits of impatience, but nothing worth writing off an entire month's worth of otherwise positive, or at least edifying, experiences.

Perhaps I'm setting too much store in the swing of the overly temperate El NiƱo winter. Perhaps the sheer relief of climbing out of weeks of flu-like fatigue is keeping my usual February blues at bay. Perhaps writing through the blissful haze of a fabulous piece of birthday cheesecake has got me overly optimistic. Or maybe my birth-month has never been all that awful and I've just been remembering the wrong moments.

My hope lies in learning to see patterns overlapping patterns; if I can come to appreciate the cycle of the Church year overtaking our tweaked Gregorian time chart to hone our focus onto He Who is most important, then perchance someday the rhythm of a child's entry into the world trumping my original plans for an evening will be an event I'll be honoured to witness time and again, rather than an inconvenience to be feared.

Speaking of cycles overcoming cycles, this year my birthday is trumped by Forgiveness Sunday, the Vespers of which I'll not be able to attend due to the needs of my convalescing daughter. As such, I'd like to take this moment to ask forgiveness of you, my readers: If anything I've written or omitted here or elsewhere has caused offense, please forgive me, a sinner. May God forgive us all.


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