I just talked with a close friend who is going through a huge life thing. We didn’t have long to talk so it was basically a time for her to fill me in and do a little venting. At then end of the call, she says, “Next time we have to talk about you. How are things?”
“Oh, y’know, they’re fine.”
She laughed, hearing a little tone in the word “fine”. “Fine?”
“Yeah, you know, same as always.”
And there it is.
Technically, it’s not true. Things aren’t the same as always. In the last year, we moved, Husband started a new position at a new company, we bought and moved into a house, the kids started at four different new schools, and we added two new pets to the family. Lots of things have changed.
But none of them are directly related to me.
I’m just here, in the busyness, doing what I always do. Keeping after the chaos, trying to stay on top of schedules, trying to be in control and keep everything moving forward, keep everyone happy.
Some days, it feels like way too big of a load for any one person. And other days, I look around and think, “What am I doing? I do nothing. I contribute nothing. I add nothing. I am nothing.”
I don’t know, is this the way it is for Stay At Home Moms? Or is this just me?
Sometimes, I think I need to get a job. Then I would be contributing. And I’d be out of the house, and I’d have a freaking identity that is not at all times connected to what is happening to everyone else in the family. I think I’d like that.
But most of the time I think “How on earth?” The last kid goes off to school at 9am. The first kid has to get picked up at 2:15. That leaves me with five hours, total. Where could I work that I could commute to the job AND work in five hours? To say nothing of all the errands and helping at the school and keeping up with the chaos. I’m serious, some days it really does feel like way too big of a load for one person. If that one person got a paying job, she would very likely have a nervous breakdown.
Also, let’s be honest, I don’t know that I want a job. See above re: nervous breakdown.
So my solution, ever since the youngest child started school full time is to say, “I’m going to pursue my writing. I have always wanted to be a writer. Now is my chance. I will get serious. I will dedicate serious time and serious effort and see if I can do this thing.”
You are reading the only thing I’ve written this week.
It’s too easy to let the SAHM job stomp all the heck over the writing thing. The writing thing feels frivolous and unimportant. And the dust bunnies keep piling up, even when I’m reading Orson Scott Card’s very important and useful guidance on Characters and Viewpoint. To say nothing of the dishes and the laundry and the calls that need to be made during office hours and oh look, we’re out of milk, again. What Characters? What Viewpoint? I can’t even seem to form a single creative thought, distracted as I am by the minutia of my days.
And this post isn’t really about writing. It’s about the minutia. It’s about the all encompassing, heavy load of stuff that from a distance looks like absolutely nothing that my life has become.
Last night, the local weather guy said our long streak of sunny days was coming to an end. Something like 77 days of sunshine. It has been amazing. It has been glorious. And I have wasted nearly every one of those 77 days. Oh, I stood in the sunshine while the dog did her business in the yard, enjoying the warmth on my face, thanking God for another beautiful day. And then I went inside, back to the minutia. A couple of times, over the summer, I dragged my family out to the beach or on a walk in the woods, desperate to make a moment, to enjoy the sunshine and make the days matter. The husband grumbled. There was all this work around the house he needed to do. The garage was still full of boxes. After a long week in the office, he wanted to check things off his list. The teenagers grumbled. Hanging out with the family is boring. The younger siblings are annoying. Mom takes too many pictures.
This past weekend, Quinn was home. I wanted to go away, but that didn’t pan out. The weather was amazing. Seventy degrees. The leaves in brighter colors than I’ve seen in the Pacific Northwest, maybe ever. Luke had a birthday party of a school friend to attend on Saturday afternoon. That shot the idea of taking a nice day trip. We went to the mall. Sunday, everyone woke up late and grumpy for church. Near the end of service, I had the thought, “I want to do something special today. Maybe a nice brunch at a little cafe, in the sunshine. Maybe the pumpkin patch.” I asked Husband. He was not enthusiastic. The garage was his big project for the weekend. He was determined to make room for his car, now that we are getting frosts some nights, getting out in the morning is a hassle. No one else seemed enthused. I settled for a quick brunch at Panera, with a view of the strip mall. We went home. Everyone went to their corners of the house. I wandered aimlessly, wishing for family togetherness, not wanting to be a pushy nag.
The streak of sunny days is coming to an end. I missed my chance. This weekend, it will be cool and cloudy and drizzly. To be followed, I’m sure, by many many days of cool and cloudy and drizzly. If we go to the pumpkin patch, it will be in the rain. If we go. The two older kids don’t feel much need for a pumpkin these days. Husband thinks maybe it’s easier just to leave them home.
I sat on my bed last night, tears streaming down my face, because of a stupid weather report.
I know what you’re thinking. I’m losing it. It’s okay, I know I’m losing it. Heck, let’s blame peri-menopause. I hear that’s supposed to be like puberty, in reverse, only longer. (which also, coincidentally, sounds like my definition of hell.)
But all I could think was, “It’s too late. I missed my chance.” And I don’t just mean last weekend, though I’m pretty sure I’ve never looked back on one weekend with so much regret. I feel like it just sums up my whole freaking life. It’s too late. I missed my chance. I never pursued writing the way that I should have. I walked away from it after high school, because it didn’t seem practical to major in English. And then I told myself it just wasn’t the right time. It was never the right time. I had my babies. Oh, I loved having babies. I really really did. I can honestly say that most of the time I savored the moments. But they went by, just the same. The babies grew up. And now much of the time, they don’t especially want to do things together, as a family. We bicker a lot when we go out together, because we’re all at cross-purposes with one another. The fun in my head doesn’t always look the same in real life. Most of the time it seems to be more about getting through the day then about making the days matter.
I don’t want to just get through the day. What then? Another day? Why? What’s the point of it all?
Switchfoot has this song, “More than Fine“, that keeps running through my head today.
More than fine, more than bent on getting by.
More than fine, more than just ok.
That’s what I want: More than “Fine”. More than just Ok.
As a Christian, I can give myself the obvious prescription: “Pray.” I know that His plans and purposes are good. I know that if I am in His will, that is right where I need to be. I know. But how do I know if I am? And is it just completely selfish for me to be sitting here in my spoiled first-world life saying “This isn’t enough”? I mean, sheesh, woman, get over yourself!
I really don’t know where I’m going with all of this. (Sense a theme?) The plain truth of it is I am fine. Life is fine. But I wonder… is it a bright sunny weekend and I’m wandering aimlessly around the house when I should be out in a pumpkin patch somewhere?