I wake up feeling crummy. Skipping my walk, I journal instead. While the hubs is gone to the farmers’ market to pick up milk, the youngsters pile into bed with me. I want to enjoy the moment. I so want to enjoy it. How often do all three kids snuggle under the covers with me anymore? I WANT to enjoy this moment. But I feel sick. Tired. Irritable. Their piling-in has interrupted my writing, they’re moving around a LOT, and they’re being LOUD. I wonder if the kids can pick up on my irritation and I wonder if it affects them inwardly. And with that thought, in comes the guilt. Ohhhhh the GUILT. Not the healthy kind that shows up when you’ve legitimately hurt someone. The unhealthy pseudo-guilt that worms its way into your spirit and mutters, “You can’t enjoy this moment? What’s WRONG with you?” When the hubs comes home and the kids tumble out of the room, I sob and he listens for the umpteenth time. He tells me I’m “sweating the details”, and then cooks me a plate of overeasy eggs. I sprinkle a grapefruit with cinnamon but the fruit is so tart, I end up squeezing the juice into a glass and add stevia. I climb back in bed (it’s Saturday, after all), journal some more, cancel an appointment for the afternoon, and respond to several texts from friends asking about last night’s “Meet the Teacher” event. My 10yo is going back to school-school after three years of homeschool, and my friends are wondering how I’m feeling about the change. Their thoughtful, checking-in messages make me feel loved.
The hubs has snagged us two tickets to a dinner gala at a downtown museum for the evening. I was hoping the weekend would be low-key and chill, especially after the chaos of the past last week of summer vacation. I appreciate the fact that he arranged for a special evening out, but I don’t have a sleek dress to wear, I don’t want to make small talk for over two hours, and I’m feeling unwell. A dinner gala will not be relaxing for my introverted self. Before lunchtime rolls around, I decide I won’t attend.
Halfway through the morning, I chat on the phone with a friend, detailing my close-to-the-surface emotions, mostly due to school revving up. Brandon heads out to buy a tie for the gala and takes the kids with him. I deliver lunch to another friend trudging through hard life circumstances. We talk for several minutes in her kitchen and then I leave, stopping at the gas station down the street to fill the car. The west Texas wind is blowing hot but not TOO hot; the bank sign says it’s only 91. The aroma of grilled beef swirls around me and sure enough, there’s a socially-irresponsible Burger King across the parking lot. In the shade of the station with the wind tossing my hair and the smell of burgers tickling my nose I have an odd moment of contentment.
I drive to Books-a-Million to buy another journal. In the store, I hear a song and ask the multi-pierced cashier if she can tell me what it is. Another employee uses his Shazam app to decipher the tune and tracks me down to tell me; it’s “Shadow” by Colbie Calliat. Back at home, about the time I eat lunch, a friend from Houston drops by and we chat for thirty minutes. After he leaves, I ask Brandon to answer me honestly…am I more sensitive than most people? Do I get my feelings hurt more easily than the average person? He says it’s hard to make that sort of comparison, and then adds, “I think your issue is more that you FIXATE. Things happens and you fixate because, besides the kids, you have nothing else to fixate ON.” Which is part of the reason why I’ve lately been considering some sort of out-of-the-house, part-time job.
We have a bit of a cleaning frenzy…stripping bed sheets, starting laundry, sweeping, vacuuming, washing dishes. I make smoothies for the kids and am overwhelmed by another wave of emotion. When the 10yo sees me slide to the kitchen floor and asks what’s wrong, I move my weepy self to the bedroom. By the time Brandon comes in, there are a dozen tissues wadded up on the bed, and I’m in a full-on ugly cry. He asks what’s going on and I say, “The same thing as always.” He rubs my back and acknowledges, “You’re havin’ a hard day.” I want to get better. Physically and emotionally, I want to FEEL BETTER. Especially so I can enjoy all the LIFE that comes into our home by the way of our children. Brandon says, “You WILL feel better. I’ve had a feeling for several months now that you’re at a turning point. You’re on the cusp of something.” And I almost believe him. He gives me a fantastic pep talk; he’s gotten pretty skilled at pep talks over the last 17 years. He should have an honorary degree in therapy, that guy. I gather myself and say “thanks coach”. He chuckles when I say, “I was going to write a ‘usual with tea’ for my blog today but I really do not want to include all…THIS.”
He suits up for the gala. I text my friend K: “I need something besides mothering.” As I absent-mindedly gaze at the floor, she replies, “Many do, including me.” Later she writes, “You have so many talents and interests. Your issue is too many choices.” I don’t agree with the “so many talents” part but my interests are certainly aplenty. The kids watch “James & the Giant Peach”; I put clean sheets on the beds.
While folding laundry, I ponder a friendship and ask God for some insight on how to behave in my interactions with the person-in-question. I glance over to my corner of the room where, about a week ago, I posted cards with some of my favorite spirit-stirring words. Within 24 hours, all the cards had fallen except two. The two that remain read: “Grace is having a relationship with someone’s heart, not their behaviors” and “Be easy. Take your time. You are coming home. To yourself.” Yes.
As I’m putting the kids to bed I ask if they ever talk to God during the day. The 7yo says she does. What about? I ask. She looks at me with a half-grin and confesses, “Sometimes I have dreams that the bad guys win.” Her brother questions, “Not the good guys?” She replies, “Sometimes I dream that the good guys win, but sometimes I dream that the BAD guys win…and I feel like I want to tell God about it.” We haven’t had a pointed conversation with our kids about asking for forgiveness – I don’t know why – just haven’t. So I find it fascinating that hoping the bad guys win naturally strikes some deep chord in her spirit. Like maybe…we shouldn’t hope for the bad guys to win… we shouldn’t cheer them on…we shouldn’t nurture revenge, jealousy, hostility, contempt.
The 3yo is doing a cat impression – no meowing, just walking across the bed and the floor on all fours in a slinky manner – and licking her siblings. The 7yo starts “snoring” and it sounds like she’s saying “Honk…shoe!”, and we are all laughing. It’s a redemptive moment after how I felt when the four of us were together in my room twelve hours before. The gala couldn’t possibly beat this. The 10yo asks, “Is this how it was every night while I was gone this summer?” The 7yo replies, “No, never.” Thanks for keepin’ it real there, dear.
When Brandon gets home, he fills me in on the fancy-dinner details. I’m so tired my eyes are blurring. Somewhere in the conversation, he shares about a couple students who have told him how much he’s changed their lives for the better…and I feel a jealous twinge in my chest. I am happy for him. I really am. And I tell him so. I also go ahead and confess my envy towards him in that regard. I rarely receive that sort of affirmation and relational feedback. Certainly not on a daily basis. We start talking about potential part-time jobs or volunteering opportunities. It’s so hard to narrow it all down and know where to start. I mention to Brandon how much I love photography and painting. He replies, “Photography and watercoloring are great – and I think you should pursue those for sure – but what I think you really need is something relational, where you’re connecting with people.” I agree. And then I connect with my pillow.