<Written March 30, 2016 and April 5, 2016>

The truth is, I am not always okay. I am pretty good at seeming okay when you see me. I smile. I have good manners. I brush my teeth and hair (most days). But inside, I am not always okay. Today is one of those days when I am not okay. Lately, a lot of my days I have not really been okay.

The truth is… life is hard. And sometimes I am so tired of the things that make up my day-to-day life, that I just don’t want to do any of those things. I don’t want to cook or clean or listen to my kids tell me stuff. I don’t want to read anything that is worth reading, or that might make we think hard about the way I live, or break my heart even further for the world I live in. I would like to do things that are worth doing, but experience has shown me that it is not possible to do things worth doing, because I will inevitably be interrupted and frustrated, and eventually I will give up. So I sit on the couch and watch cartoons with my kids, or I read the newspaper and wonder how in the world so many people could think Trump for President is a good idea. Really… I just. Don’t. Get it.

I make to-do lists that I don’t follow. And I cry. If I didn’t have Jesus, I think I would drink a lot, and probably stop eating. Because that is why people become anorexic, right — to have something in life they can control? I feel like nothing in my life is under my control. I am not winning. And I am not brave. I don’t even know what brave would look like for me. I don’t even know what a win would look like. So how do I pursue that?

Buy a home.
Write things people actually want to read.
A step further… Get paid for writing.
Be a good mom.
Help people know Jesus, and feel like they are winning in life.
Learn to play drums.
Start running again.
Have time to create things.

The thing is, I am doing some of these things. I have a good marriage, and a healthy family. I have friends. My kids love me. I should be happy… right? So why am I not happy? I feel guilty for not feeling happy.

I sometimes mourn the loss of the life I once had. In truth, I don’t really want that life anymore. I don’t want to go backwards, and I would not if I could. But there are things I miss. I do not wish to change any of the details of my life so far. I do wish I knew a little bit more about what was coming up, though.

I recently started reading Brene Brown’s newest book, Rising Strong. Unfortunately, I had to turn it back into the library before I finished, but I read enough to get me thinking. Early on, she says,

“During the process of rising, we sometimes find ourselves homesick for a place that no longer exists. We want to go back to that moment before we walked into the arena, but there’s nowhere to go back to.”   —Rising Strong, by Brene Brown, p.5

I am not sure how I would define my arena. But I know it has something to do with the exhaustion of dying to myself. If nothing else, motherhood is going to teach me two things: patience, and how to die to myself. Either I will learn these things, or I will literally die. I keep running in circles around these two things, and I can’t tell if it is a simple circle, or if I am going uphill, or even downhill, descending into madness.

If you get a bunch of moms together, it won’t be long before they start talking about motherhood.   If there is someone pregnant or with an infant, we will probably at some point bring out our birth stories. How fast and intense or how slow and agonizing the birth was, the challenges of breastfeeding, where we got kicked while pregnant, and how tired we were in the pregnancy and early stages.

When the kids are older, we talk about potty training, the playground, the funny things kids say, and how they are doing at school and in their activities. Those with teens have a new level of anxiety and struggle to connect in this digital age of craziness. My oldest is almost ten… soon we’ll have to have “THE TALK.” Yes, that is coming. I’m not excited.

I don’t know what dads talk about when they get together, but I know moms. And I know it is easy to lose ourselves in the task of mothering. I am sure innumerable books have been written, but right now I can’t seem to find the answers to “when did my life get so boring” and “how come I am not even sure who I am anymore.” I have four kids. FOUR. I love them all dearly, but seriously, FOUR? What was I thinking. I remember when I was pregnant with my fourth – or maybe it was even earlier than that, I saw a clip of comedian Jim Gaffigan on what it’s like to have four kids. He says, “I tell people, imagine you are drowning… and then someone hands you a baby.” That’s what it’s like to have four. I am drowning in sick days and laundry and dishes and diapers. I have twenty thousand photographs to sort and put into albums. 480 of them were just taken by my two-year-old when he found my iPhone. There is always cereal on the floor somewhere in my house. Everyone wants to touch me and talk to me. All. The. Time. And all at the same time. And no matter what I do, I always feel like I should be doing something else.

The truth is, having a sense of “control” in your life is always an illusion. No one ever really has control. And no one is happy ALL the time. We don’t know what will happen, and if there is going to be an earthquake or a flood, I can’t stop that. One of my friends has a son who is deaf. Another friend’s son has leukemia. Another friend’s daughter has down syndrome. Friends have kids with autism spectrum disorders. I have friends who are divorced – no one ever plans that! I have single friends who didn’t imagine themselves to still be single at this point in their lives. People’s careers usually don’t turn out as planned. My brother posted this quote on his Facebook page recently:

“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey…delays…sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.” ― Jenkin Lloyd Jones 

I don’t want to actually be in control of my life. I want God to be in control. I just wish he would tell me where we are going. So I could be excited about it? Unless my future is awful. But I don’t believe that to be true. So what do I do?

How do I make every moment count? I think it starts with thankfulness. Here we go:

Thank you God for my life. Thank you for my husband. Thank you for a good relationship with my parents and siblings. Thank you for my four amazing, beautiful, inquisitive and affectionate kids. Thank you that they still want to be around me, and do things with me. Help me not to screw this parenting thing up any more than I already have. Thank you for my rented home. It is amazing, and affordable, and meets our family’s needs right now. Thank you for the cats next door that are teaching me patience, and how to still be polite to my neighbor even when her twenty cats keep pooping in my yard. Thank you for clean water. Thank you for my laptop. Thank you for pens and paper. Thank you for the girl my family is sponsoring through World Vision; I am grateful there are organizations who have a heart to help people make their lives better. Thank you for the team of people at church who help lead the ministries and church operations. Thank you for the friend who called today, and for her new job. Thank you for medication that helps my allergies and headaches. Thank you for socks. I know socks are really meaningful to homeless people, and I have lots of socks, so thank you. Thank you for the photographs that line the walls of my house. I love looking at my loved ones everyday, in our various stages of life. Thank you for the comforter on my bed. Even though it is stained with pink highlighter ink, it is still very comfy-cozy. Thank you for my Bible, and that I can read it whenever I want to. I really should read it more. And I am ever so grateful that no one is going to burst into my house and shoot me if they see a Bible. I don’t want to take my freedom for granted. Thank you for my friends that I can be honest with. I thank you that you are with my friends in Germany, and the one who is about to move back there. Thank you that the kids are asleep now, and I can go to sleep too, and be warm, and have a pillow, and be with a husband that I love dearly. Thank you that tomorrow is a new day.

Do I post this vulnerable and unhappy thing I have written? Yes, I do. Because honesty is a good idea. Because it is okay to not always be okay. And it is good to reach out, and journey with people, instead of hiding behind a facade of “I’m fine.” And thankfully, Jesus likes imperfect people. That is the only kind of people there are.

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