Tag Archives: struggle

Comparing My Gray to Your Sunny Day

I slather my feet with Waikiki Beach Coconut shea butter foot cream before tugging on thick black socks and sliding into rain boots. It’s the closest I will get to Hawaii as I troll Facebook for pictures of my younger sister’s vacation, living vicariously through her, her husband, and their adult children.

My sky is gray and pours rain today. Again. It has been raining consistently for weeks. Ever since, it seems, my husband made an edict that I would no longer be driving our middle school son to school unless it was raining, it has been raining.

My pedicure is non-existent, waiting in a bottle in the bathroom cabinet. I am grateful that this isn’t sandal weather, as I pull on boots for another wearing before the season officially ends. I grab a sweater while I’m at it.

I long for the breathtaking scenery and list of beach chores and pictures of toes in the sand posted to my sister’s wall. My nephew and his wife are sunkissed in the surf and gorgeous. Other pictures posted shout lovely, relaxing, grown-up family time, and I want it!

I want my sister’s life in this moment but not all the things.

I don’t want the very hard parts, yet those are a part of the sunny day package in the life of another.

And that is the dilemma, especially in the world of photos and social media and the age of technology. We get to see another’s best sunny day and measure it against our gray. We don’t always get to see the flip side.

I tend to fill in the blanks of a great Instagram picture or #hashtag with most awesome backstory and future coming ever!

It feels very gray in my world. The weather has been chilly, rainy, and bleak. My heart has been cold, teary, and weak. And yet, there is someone looking at pictures and posts of my sunny day moments. They don’t see the hard, the struggles, the stress.

Even when I share openly about the hard, there is still the very hard that remains to be sorted and worked through in quieter, more private spaces. I want to run away from it to the sunny that beckons from another’s world. I want to leave this behind and escape my reality, instead of embracing what is and waiting for the gray to fade.

I pull off my boots at the end of the day to the scent of coconut lingering in the air. I drag the rake through my zen garden , smoothing sand, dreaming of the ocean. I open a picture of tiny shells in a text from my sister to show her little namesake who likes tiny things.

I hold gratefulness in my heart for the sunny that she gets to experience; a respite from storm. I ponder why it is harder for me to rejoice with those who rejoice than to weep with those who weep.

I choose to remain in a hopeful stance that the sun isn’t too far away.

Wrapping Up Spring Break

Spring Break ’16 has come and is almost gone.

It was a good week. It was a hard week. If one more person had asked me, So do you have anything fun planned FOR YOU? I would have lost it. But they didn’t. And I didn’t.

It just wasn’t that kind of break.

It was the kind that included taking a limping dog to the vet on Monday to find that he has an issue that will most likely require surgery, though we have been trying the rest and anti-inflammatory route to see if it helps. Thankfully, it is nothing life-threatening.

It was a dentist kind of week for two of the kiddos. Yay for no cavities! Boo for necessary extractions and wisdom teeth issues. Cha-ching!

It was a hunker down around the house kind of week with a play date or two interspersed for fun for the kids. A friend came over on Good Friday to spend time with Mae. Roo had a friend over on Tuesday. There was a park play date for tween girl and co. Teen sons made plans with friends and were in and out throughout the week.

Some projects were attempted, including another sorting of the kitchen set resulting in a load of stuff being dropped off at the donation station. A few things were deeper cleaned, and children actually accomplished the chores on their charts.

The pantry and deep freeze and refrigerator were searched and scraped for end of the month meals. I cooked a bit. Easter candy was consumed.

Legos were pulled up from the basement and re-assembled. I spent more time in my favorite writing place with journals, books, and laptop. I slept until 7 instead of heeding my usual 5:30 wake-up call.

I had coffee with a friend or two. The times were really good and really hard, because when you are honest about the complexities of life, it’s not all sunshine and blue skies. Parts are painful and hard to say and hear. Parts are hilariously funny. I am blessed with friends that I can laugh and cry with simultaneously while sitting in the tension of unresolved-ness.

I did a small bit of creating. Emphasis on small.

It was a good week. It was a hard week. A friend messaged me to tell me that I seemed down based on my blog posts, and that she had been thinking about me and hoped I was okay. I appreciated being seen.

I’m okay.

I served in nursery for a switch with a friend this morning and received the gift of heart connection with precious littles and ladies and my daughter. Then I stayed alone for second service and received the gift of encouragement through worship and words and the table.

I am grateful for the time off this week and the space to regroup for the remaining part of the school year. We have almost made it through the year of five kids in five schools.

Friendship Friday ~ Adult Daughter

Hi mama I miss you <3

The text comes through at 8:33pm, shortly after returning home from a failed shopping trip with one of her younger sisters. I am in tears, parenting solo this night, trying to get everyone what they need and where they need to be. I am up to my eyeballs in the thankless hard work of it all.

My partner on the journey is off on a well-deserved break, nurturing his creative outlet. Connecting with the adult daughters is a bonus he looks forward to. I encourage him in this endeavor, realizing he doesn’t get enough of it. Time for himself, that is.

The long day had morphed into a daunting evening. It is in the clothing store while experiencing deja-vu that I consider clarifying my life mission to Ruining the lives of young girls, one daughter at a time.

Pulling out my lifeline phone, I begin composing a text to an adult daughter who has already walked this same road with me as a tween/teen. Then I delete it, chiding myself for feeling a need to involve her in my struggle, having already survived the torture that was my mothering.

Tween daughter and I leave the store empty-handed, invectives and accusations searing my ears over the lack of clothing choices and my failure to mother well, every weakness noted and footnoted and trigger pushed. Tears sting my eyelids. Heart pounds in my chest. I cling to composure and arrive home to tuck the younger sister into bed and bid adieu to my shopping partner, whom I clearly fail by the minute.

Settling into my room, allowing tears sobs to flow freely, the text arrives.

Hi mama I miss you . . .

I respond with how I am feeling, and she reminds me that it is a phase. She shares her adult daughter perspective with me. She demonstrates love for the younger sister with her words and reminders to me about how it feels to be young with big feelings. She speaks words of kindness and truth about my writing and her thoughts on where it is headed and encourages me to keep on in the bigness and hard of it all.

She reminds me it is okay to rest, and when I text, Thanks. That’s what I need to do. Just. Go. To. Bed, she replies with Or a bath and bed. 🙂

That’s my girl. I feel so blessed.

Often, Steve and I comment to each other that it would be nice to say, Oh well, too bad we screwed up those four kids. At least we tried, and then go on with our life NOT having to keep up with parenting four more. It is hard to stay engaged and energized.

Then there are moments when a text comes through from an adult daughter turned friend that reminds you that this, too, shall pass. You are not alone.

Thanksgiving Wrap-up

Thanksgiving weekend has come to an end. November, with its month of thankfulness, is almost over.

I won’t pretend it was an easy month, an easy holiday, because it wasn’t. There were moments of goodness and thankfulness that I was grateful to feel before moments of darkness and pain settled around me more strongly.

There was a struggle to stay present and thankful through some incredibly hard moments that can’t be detailed here. Because privacy.

I battle depression and would be lying if I said that it isn’t threatening to take me down these days, this season. The first step is recognizing the danger zone and admitting that I am in a vulnerable place. The second is reaching out and speaking up. The third is taking action and making a plan.

All three have happened, are happening, will happen.

I don’t know why life is so hard and the struggle is so real, but it is. I am grateful for those on my team who walk with me through the darkness and point me to the light.

One place of light was this tree of life moment Thanksgiving morning.

My husband woke me with a cup of coffee and the words, Do you want to come out and watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade?

He had gone to the store in the early morning hours and purchased an antenna to hook up to the TV to capture the signal for NBC. Each year since our move to this house, Thanksgiving has been the one day I have longed for network TV to watch the parade. Each year we miss the opportunity, and I move on in hopefulness to the next.

Thanksgivings past have found my parents recording the parade for me to watch later or me heading over to their house to watch it. I have ignored it completely or deferred hope to another time down the road. This year it happened as I snuggled up on the couch with coffee and my kids, and we watched the parade together.

Then they watched the dog show.

It was a tree of life moment for us all around, and though it would soon pass and challenges present, for a few hours Thanksgiving morning, we escaped into musicals and marching bands and musicians and dancers and balloons and floats and dogs.

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Toothless watching himself in the parade is just one of many sweet moments shared together Thanksgiving morning.

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Don’t get too envious of the technology you see here. 2/5 of the electronic devices resting on the entertainment console are not ours. They are also the most modern of the devices. But whose counting? We are grateful for generous family and friends who share the fun with us.

Friendship Friday ~ Cheesy Edition

I love my kids. All of them. They overwhelm me. Every one.

They are my greatest gifts. They are what God knew I needed, and I cling to that reminder when I’m not so sure.

They are some of my issues. I have helped to create many of theirs.

Five remain at home, one with his foot out the door, but still very much present. It takes many deep breaths and much fortitude to brace for the second half of this parenting journey with the ones who remain.

This.

family

This is a bag of cheese pulled from the freezer for Friday night pizza.

Several weeks ago, adult child three stopped in unexpectedly. She helped make the Friday night pizza. She also offered to divide the giant bag of mozzarella cheese into smaller, freezer-sized portions, a task not my favorite.

In the weeks following, as I pulled cheese from the freezer, I found hand-written notes on the bags. I love my mama. It’s Friday! and other sweet messages adorned them, written in trademark black Sharpie.

This bag makes me smile so much that I’m keeping it to refill. I love the picture she drew and her handwriting for the words and just everything that reminds me of the huge, undeserved gift I’ve been given to be the mom in the picture.

I’m thankful for moments like this where I am reminded of the redemptive good birthed from the very hard. Many years of pizza making, lots of Fridays, lots of freezing of cheese and sauce and dough, lots of misunderstandings about plans and movie choices and curfews come together in a moment of beauty written on a bag of cheese.

Broken

Broken but not beyond healing
Though sometimes in the shatter
It’s hard to keep singing

In the spirit’s struggle, the mouth often joins
To pour out hasty unkind words
At the wrong time
In the wrong place.

Oh for the wisdom to quietly hold back
To process in a place of safety
Trusting fully in the Lord for justice.

~broken reflections on Proverbs 29~

Building

In building our house, it’s wisdom we need.
Knowledge
Good Sense
These things make us strong.
Planning
Preparing
These go a long way.

They lead us and guide us with hope on the path.

It’s okay to struggle when pressures arise,
To fall and to rise up again and again.
But we won’t give up.
We will hold on to strength.
We will rise and keep trying.
Our future is bright.

~a reminder from Proverbs 24~