You guys might or might not be good for me. I spent a ridiculous amount of time this weekend coming up with the perfect combination of first and middle names for the third-daughter-we’re-never-going-to-have. All the talk on here about names … Carl laughed himself silly when I saw me scribbling out the list.
Anyway. On to this post.
I have this ideal family life, in my head. It’s not even so unreasonable. It doesn’t involve children wearing white dresses and running through fields of wildflowers with nary a grass stain to be seen, or me standing at the sink washing my glassware to sparkling cleanliness with a chipper smile on my perfectly-made-up face. It’s actually pretty simple. It is this …
I read stories – many of them – out loud to the children every day. Some are picture books, some are longer chapter books.
We go on walks outside every day. On days when it’s warm enough to hold a pencil without your fingers falling off, we take drawing supplies so the girls can draw any bits of nature that catch their eye.
We don’t necessarily do art projects every day, but when we do them, they inspire great bursts of creativity and the girls revel in them. Mamma does not grit her teeth and wince over the mess.
We do school according to schedule, and it’s never haphazard, or forgotten because Mamma got distracted.
The kids work with me in the kitchen when making food, and it does not drive me to distraction. I can assign them clean-up chores, and not forget to remind them to keep up with it.
Our home is filled with music and laughter and friendship all the time.
And I am not so dog-weary tired all the time that it’s all I can do to plod through my day.
It doesn’t sound that impossibly, does it? OK, maybe the bit about me not losing it over the inevitable mess that comes with any kind of art project. But the rest of it? It’s simple. It doesn’t require any Herculean bursts of strength to accomplish. Lots of other families do it (I know, I know, comparison is the thief of joy and all that … but it’s true). So why is it so hard for me, for us as a family, to live that sort of ordinary, peaceful, simple, happy life? What is it about me that makes me so tired all the time that I can’t seem to get much more than the basics of life done in a day? I get almost-enough sleep these days. I’ve eliminated as many outside stressors as possible from my life, which were what used to suck all my energy from me. I eat mostly-right, and while I don’t specifically exercise, I do my best to stay somewhat active. I’m not depressed, thank God, anymore. The kids are 4 and 6, a pretty awesome age, past the baby-and-toddler stage, not requiring my attention every second of the day, requiring all I’ve got just to keep them and me alive.
When I was eighteen, I started feeling the aimlessness of my life. One day, as I was grumbling to God about the fact that I had all these great ambitions and yet all I was doing was working in the hardware store and not doing anything about those ambitions, it felt like he hit me upside the head with a 2×4.
“Then do something.”
I got home from work that day and immediately started researching colleges with good English programs. I knew that I couldn’t just sit around and expect life to change me, that if I wanted to achieve my dreams I at least had to start down that path myself.
I thought of that experience this weekend, as I was grumbling once again about my inability to get anywhere with my very basic daily life goals. Living with someone like Carl, who sees what he wants and then figures out how to make it work, and then does it, is very exhausting for someone whose natural inclination is to wait for God to drop life changes into her lap without her lifting a finger.
This isn’t the same situation as my decision to go to college instead of twiddling my thumbs waiting to be discovered by someone who would want to publish my wonderful books, though. I wish I could just do it, just go ahead and make the changes. But the problem here is that I just don’t have the energy to change. When I talk about being tired all the time … even forcing my brain to deviate enough to think about sitting down in the middle of the day and read a story to the kids is an effort, much less doing it.
I have a great schedule written up and posted on the fridge. It’s flexible, and basic, and pretty much the best daily schedule I’ve created since I started making schedules for myself however many years ago. And have I been able to stick with it once since the day I wrote it?
I’ve written this entire post, and now I’m not even sure if I’m going to publish it or not. Because what’s the point? To have people metaphorically pat my head and say “there, there”? In hopes that someone will give me a magic cure, something that will make me suddenly able to do everything I want to do? Neither of those are what I want.
But I guess maybe I will publish it, not in hopes of being soothed, but because I strongly suspect there are others out there in the same boat as I am, and maybe knowing that they aren’t the only one floundering will bring them a small measure of comfort. And because sometimes, the very act of sharing one’s struggles can give one strength.
And because, frankly, if I’ve sat here for an hour typing out my frustrations, I don’t just want to hit “delete.” I have little enough to show for my days as it is, I don’t need to lose the few things that I do get done!