a worship reflection by Katie Mitchell
Hi! I’m Katie. My life is busy and it’s beautiful, but it is fairly simple and uneventful. You probably won’t ever see any books or movies released about my life. I am an artist. I am a sister. I am a daughter. I am a friend. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a seeker. And a bit of a mystic. I have a lot of really BIG feelings, too. But I’ve always felt that something fundamental is missing from my being. In essence, my untruth is “There is either too much of me OR not enough of me to be what I need to be in my world. And if those I love struggle, well, it’s probably my fault.” This is especially a problem for me as a mother in the “not enough” category.
My husband, Aaron, and I have been married almost 22 years, and we have three children: Jack (who is 18 and graduates high school next month), Molly, and Moriah (who are 17-year-old twins). As you can tell from their ages, they were born very close together. Within 17 months, to be exact. When Jack was 9 months old, we found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with twins. We were, of course, thrilled to be able to have children! But this was overwhelming. That’s when a recurring dream began haunting me while I slept at night. (Any mental health professionals hearing this can start taking notes now…there’s a lot to unpack here.) In the dream, I am driving a van over a bridge crossing a river. In the back seat are my 3 babies, strapped safely their car seats and sleeping soundly. All of a sudden, I veer off the road, and all four of us crash into the river. The windows shatter and water starts pouring in quickly. I think, “How can I carry all three of these babies and swim to shore? I think I can only grab two of them. But, which two?” Water pours in faster. I must hold my breath, go under the water, and make a decision. I am crippled with fear and self-loathing….more water….going under further….. Then I would wake up in a cold sweat, barely catching my breath and holding my swollen belly for dear life. This is going to sound really strange, but when I have a bad dream, I am sometimes able to go back to sleep and dream my way out of whatever nightmare I am having. So, after this dream, I’d get out of bed, gulp down a drink of water, use the bathroom for the hundredth time (remember, I’m carrying TWINS), then go back to sleep and find a way to save all three babies from drowning. Usually, it would involve someone else diving in and helping me. You know, since I am not enough to take care of my own children. This happened countless nights during my pregnancy and it still happens occasionally today.
On October 15, 2004, I went into labor five weeks early. Aaron and I were both terrified. One of the babies (Moriah….always doing her own thang) was breach, so I opted for a C-section. When the spinal medicine was administered, I got very sick and I had uncontrollable chills. I was quickly laid on the table while the doctor went to work. As I looked at the ceiling, Aaron’s face met mine and he gripped my hand. There was pulling and tugging and pressure and so much fear and so many chills, but he would not let my eyes veer. It was like all of our feelings were being shared through that laser stare. Can we actually do this? We’re about to be outnumbered! Can we love other babies like we love our Jack….our hearts are already bursting! Aaron kept whispering over and over, “I love you so much. I love you so much.” Then, Molly’s baby cry filled the room. Three minutes later, Moriah arrived. A duet of baby cries was the background music to the love that was shared between mine and Aaron’s eyes in those moments. It was profound….like one of the things that will flash in my mind as I am dying one day. My not-enough-ness, my too-much-ness, my fears, my dreams, my love for these new lives, the love and camaraderie my partner and I shared, and the belief that something bigger than all of us was real and tangible—it all swirled together in that room.
After coming home, real life set in, and the lie of not being enough slapped me in the face almost daily. Take a look here to see 30 seconds of what “not enough” looks like….
….Aren’t they angels?….
But then there have been so many moments that carried me through those harder days. Moments like when we have told the kids it’s time for bed 400 times, but at 10 pm, Aaron and I—half-asleep—overhear them talking to each other and laughing about their day while petting our dog, Dylan, in the small hallway outside our bedroom. Moments like, when Jack is clearly forgetting an important item in his backpack, one of the girls yells, “Did you get your thing for theater?!” to remind him to get what he needs for that day. And “moments” like a PANDEMIC, when school is completely online and we can’t see other people, but we have our family to watch movies with and talk about school work with and go on walks with.
What I have learned through all of this “not-enough-ness” is that there really IS enough. Because WE are enough. This translates outside of my family into Creation. Many of you know this, but I am back in college at the ripe old age of 43, studying Anthropology. Do you know why our human species has survived this long? Well, there are many reasons. But, one major one is we have this incredible capability to work together as a unit. And as a person of faith, I believe in this cosmic, mystic thing some of us call “God,” or, more specifically, “The Body of Christ” that knits us all together as humans. One of us is great, but all of us working together is greater, if we are united in the love of our Creator.