I’m exhausted. I don’t mean exhausted in a ‘I slept poorly last night’ or ‘I had a long day’ way. I mean truly exhausted to my core.
Our son starts kindergarten in a week. It is his first school experience and I’m losing sleep worrying about every little detail. Did we work hard enough on letters? Will he be the polite, well-mannered boy he always is or will school bring out a new attitude? Will he make friends? Will I be able to make mom friends?
My husband’s work schedule has been chaotic. He works long hours with varying shifts including nights, weekends, holidays, and overtime. When he is home he is the biggest help ever, and I’m grateful to have someone that works as hard as he does both at his job and at home. With his crazy schedule a large percentage of parenting falls squarely on me. It is incredible and worthwhile, but also draining physically and mentally.
We are blessed enough to have purchased our first home three months ago. It has been a whirlwind of beautiful memories coupled with the insanity of being a homeowner. We have experienced massive rain storms that led to a waterfall in our basement. There has been an infestation of flying ants in our garage. Our dishwasher broke, leaked through the floor, and dripped onto our new dryer. Within a week of our dishwasher being repaired, our refrigerator died. So when I say it has been back to back problems, I really mean back to back problems. Let’s add in the fact that I’ve had two surgeries within the past five months and I’m trying to get my body to a somewhat normal place (and, honestly, I’m unsure if that’s even possible at this point.)
At this point it is safe to assume that while the problems may be different, most people are probably nodding their head along in agreement. They empathize and relate. This is hard work. All of this is hard work. Keeping it all together, trying to make sure I’m the best mom and wife possible, all while trying to practice self-care and remember that I’m a person who has also has needs, is a tough act to balance.
I try to remain positive and hopeful, but I’m only human and there are days where I completely break down. There are days where my husband and son are asleep and a mental checklist is made of all the ways I failed them that day. Sometimes it is hard to pull myself out of the pity party, downward spiral of perceived failure.
Cue the sign.
No matter how much time we spend in or out of the house, no matter how much time is spent cleaning during the day, and no matter my best efforts at keeping up with the mess, the kitchen is the one room that rarely remains clean for a good period of time. Even when we get food delivered the kitchen counter somehow collects crumbs and sticky, mystery spots. The dishes in the sink seem to show up as soon as I’ve finished loading the dishwasher or emptying the drainage rack. It’s really quite an amazing feat and should be analyzed by scientists.
As you can imagine, a good portion of my day is spent in front of the kitchen sink. Before I’m able to go to bed, my kitchen has to be clean. It’s the one room where clutter and mess bother me. While cleaning dishes or loading the dishwasher, I’d find my thoughts straying to my failures of the day. My movement and actions were focused on the task at hand, but the tasks would be completed while I stared absentmindedly out the window that is above our sink. The flowers blooming, the rain falling, the sight of a bunny hopping through the yard were my brief reprieve from the chaotic storm in my mind.
The back to back hits have been hard to take; it is nearly impossible to remain positive when you get knocked down as soon as you try to stand. In an effort to curtail the negative thoughts, I forced myself to start finding a positive, any positive, in every situation. Whenever my son is upset about something I encourage him to find something good about the situation. Now it is time to practice what I preach. The waterfall in our basement was scary, but we have a sump pump to handle the water. The ant infestation, while disgusting, was rectified quickly. My brilliant father, along with help from my husband, was able to get our dishwasher up and running. Our fridge breaking was a hard hit to take, but we were fortunate enough to have a savings account that afforded us the luxury of buying a new one. All of these issues were overwhelming, but they were issues we had with our house. That thought really helped pull me up out of the chasm. The months have been hectic, but these problems are ones that we have because we are lucky enough to have a home.
I’m a sucker for signs with cute sayings. One of my favorites is a canvas hanging in our room that says “always kiss me goodnight.” A sign caught my eye a week or two after we moved into the house. It is simple, but powerful: This is our Happily Ever After. It hit me that not only is this our happily ever after, but it is also everything I’ve ever wanted in my life. These are things I prayed to have one day; a wonderful, amazing child who brightens up my world, a beautiful home (despite the flaws mentioned above), a spectacular husband, and a happy marriage
The sign was promptly bought. As soon as I went home, it was obvious where this piece belonged: the kitchen windowsill.
Now when I’m having a bad day, elbow deep in dirty dishwater, and mentally cursing myself for not putting tinfoil down on the cookie sheet, the sign is displayed front and center for me as a reminder. This, the good and bad with the ups and downs, is still something beautiful. This is everything I’ve wanted.
Life will never turn out how you want it to. You can spend countless moments of your life planning out every single detail and it still won’t matter. There will always be something tripping you up. There will be hurdles you encounter that you didn’t plan for and you aren’t prepared to tackle, but that is what life is. The world is making its own set of plans for you while you work valiantly on setting your own path.
Find something for yourself that acts as a beautiful reminder that these moments, and this life, are fleeting. Do what my son and I do and try to find positives in any situation, whether it is a small positive spin or a big positive spin.
You can choose to spend your time on Earth fighting against the tidal waves, or you can learn to embrace the chaos and ride the wave. No matter which option you choose, there’s always a chance of getting knocked down and becoming engulfed by the very thing you’re fighting. However your reaction is up to you: stay submerged and be carried away or fight to break through the surface.