It’s morning and it’s already one of “those” days. He’s on the couch, I’m standing over him and I’m wondering if the neighbors can hear my crazy leaking out of our pristine little house.
“I will not talk to you when you’re yelling.”
I tell him this... as I’m yelling.
I immediately feel the irony and the chastising and the failure. I want to crawl into a hole, hide somewhere by myself where I can sob and hug my knees and chew my fingers down. But there’s nowhere to go, no one else around to take over.
I get a card that same afternoon from a bestie. The front says, “Motherhood isn’t for wimps.” And I want to crumble and fight and bawl because it is so freaking hard and I’m all busted up today and I know I need to suck it up, be the adult, be the parent, but I’m so done. And it’s 10 a.m.
And inside she graces me with what we all need to hear on those days, “You may not feel like you’re making a difference, but you are.” And I think... maybe. But not today. Today I’m just screwing it all up. They aren’t learning a thing today except that Mom is having a nervous breakdown and someone please call Grandma for rescue.
Tonight it’s another long day after that one long, long day and Daddy will be returning and all is going to be well. I mean, it is, but at the same time, it’s going to be the same thing tomorrow. It’s going to be another early morning. I’m going to blindly start the coffee. Tonight it’s dinner in a deep bowl of guacamole and chips and my gratitude journal hugs near.
"Without revelation and reframing,
life can seem like an endless desert of
danger with scratchy sand in your shoes,
and yet if we remember or are reminded
to pay attention, we find so many
sources of hidden water...
there are so many ways to sweep
the sand off our feet.
So we say, "Oh my God, thanks."
~ A n n L a m o t t
I feel the softening. The slight smile. The remembrance of little beings in my lap just an hour ago, all cuddly and sweet and little boy-ness. And I felt like the luckiest face on the planet and I know I am blessed and I know these avocados are perfection and I know sleep is going to feel so good tonight.
I was rinsing dishes, a day’s worth piled up, blasted the old off with the burning water. And I couldn’t help but think how that spoon with the day old whatever-it-was dried on the surface... how that spoon was me. I was careful to not put my hand in the spray of water. I could feel the steam from the sink, knew it would burn my skin fast. I think, “Man, I don’t want that to touch me.”
And none of us do.
That whole refining bit? The whole “work out your salvation” part? Gosh, on days when you just want to drink an iced coffee by yourself or not talk to a soul... on days when you want to get lost in a good song or a long run or a meandering drive... on those days when you can’t get away and you’re hassled and begged for and pulled on and followed to the bathroom and to the laundry room and up the stairs and “Mom! Mom, what are you doing! Mom, look, isn’t Buzz amazing?!” And I’m all distracted and I know it and I know I shouldn’t be. I know these are the little years and the time is smaller than they are. I know, I know. But I still want that iced coffee by myself. I’m still yelling while the windows are wide open and I’m still wildly aware of my inconsistency and my sin and my selfishness.
Then it’s a cheap spoon under hot water and I smile.
Because it’s me. On those days when I’m blasted by everything. That’s where the clean gets to shine through. Eventually. That’s when the gunk is removed. At least for that day. And then you start all over the next day and the next moment and sometimes the very next minute. Over and over. And it’s okay.
Because we all do it. You may not think so when you see us at church on Sunday morning with our nice, smooth hair and our dressy clothes and our makeup. You see the kids in the little plaid shirts and the girls with the bows and the husbands are helping with the diaper bags and the baby seats and sharing the bulletin and the Bible. You don’t think it then. But come Monday morning when it all goes south you think, “Man, I bet her day doesn’t look like this.”
I bet it does. At some point, I bet it does. I bet she runs to the store on days when she really hopes she doesn’t bump into anyone she knows. The hair in a pile, the stretchy pants, the quick application of mascara, the kiddos still in jammies that she hopes passes for recreational clothes. We’re all liars if we say we haven’t been there.
Bad days happen.
But so does grace.
And the whole mercies new every day? Over and over? Just when you think you can't take anymore?
That happens, too.
"I pray because I can't help myself.
I pray because I'm helpless.
I pray because the need flows
out of me all the time,
It doesn't change God.
It changes me."
~ C . S . L e w i s