IN THIS TOGETHER ◽ MARRIAGE
I hope that when you read this, the world is a little less scary and filled with a lot more hugs. However, while I’m writing this, I’ve been home with my family for 4 weeks, 2 days, 7 hours and counting. That’s 32 days for my fellow math challenged folks.
Let me start by saying I am incredibly blessed and privileged to have a job that allows both my husband and me to work from home without a big upset. We are healthy, our kids are healthy, we have a home and food and haven’t run out of toilet paper….yet. And I am grateful. That said, I don’t know about anyone else, but I have been spending much more time on social media and following news outlets, searching for information, making sure we are not only taking care of ourselves, but also trying to safe guard those around us who need some extra protecting. It’s been an overload of information, horror stories, desperation and real fear from people all over the world.
But what came next surprised me. It shouldn’t have, I guess, but it did. People started posting some helpful suggestions. Which is a great idea, right? I mean, we need to find some good in the middle of the blah.
Now while I was looking for anything that might brighten my outlook, (like the penguins on field trips while the aquariums and zoos are closed), I started running across article after article whose authors suggest readers use this opportunity to create beautiful art projects with our children, all while peacefully interacting together. And that we should take this bless-ed chance to learn a new language, and teach our children to bake bread from scratch, grinding our own flour, maybe write the next great American novel, sing kumbaya in a circle of love and harmony. Okay, I made that last one up, but you catch my drift.
Now, please please please…if you are an amazing hippie hearted soul, whose love language is baking and you homeschool your children in real life and this togetherness brings you joy….you are a magical unicorn, and I hope you embrace this and treasure every moment. In case anyone is wondering, I’m not a magical unicorn. I’m more of a one horned goat, tripping over my own feet, ramming my head into walls and whining loudly. Now don’t get me wrong, I have basically been training my whole life to have a job where leggings are my daily uniform. I am awesome at that! But the rest of this is much more challenging. Like finding ways to navigate my work calendar and meetings while my husband and I share an office and us finding a healthy way to vent our frustrations. And I’m feeding these people approximately 17 meals a day as I juggle conference calls while helping my kids navigate online learning (a very big shout-out to all educators-you are the real MVPs. You all deserve a billion dollar raise. Jesus loves you. The end.).
Almost every day since early March has resulted in my crying in the kitchen. It’s overwhelming, the sheer magnitude of a global pandemic, on top of trying to manage a life without freedom outside of the confines of our house. Trying to ensure my kids feel safe, and seen, and encouraged and help them navigate self-learning, and try to help with this new math, for the love of everything good and holy? It’s just a lot. Too much, actually. So I decided to be real. Or real-ish.
You don’t want to see my unmade bed or room-sized version of a junk drawer, or the dishes that don’t get done every day. But those things are my reality. My husband and I didn’t have time before to get everything done, so with all the extra stuff piled on our plates right now, my house did not magically become pristine and organized. We don’t make gourmet meals (ever) or even remember to take the laundry out of the wash before having to re-wash it again. And again. True story. I could go on.
However, in the middle of one of my epic kitchen meltdowns, my husband gave me a gentle reminder, which, bless his heart, he probably wanted to shake me, but held me close instead. He reminded me that we are in survival mode here. There aren’t some grand set of parameters that make me a success or failure as a wife or a mom, or a human for that matter.
He reminded me about grace.
We all need a little grace. Our kids are safe and loved, even when they have their own meltdowns and turn into awful gremlin versions of themselves. We are always fed, even if it’s cereal for 5 meals a day. And I don’t just need to offer grace to my family. I need to offer it to myself as well. God didn’t offer his redemption and grace just to others, He offered it to me. Freely. I need to be generous with myself because He loves me bigger than my biggest storm. Thankfully, I have a partner who loves me enough to see where I’m struggling and remind me that I’m gracefully broken, and gracefully loved and gracefully forgiven.
I needed to be reminded that this isn’t a contest. I’m not vying for the #1 WIFE/MOM/HUMAN spot. And I most definitely don’t need to continue competing with this small pretty picture I see from others around me. Because most people don’t want to show you the mess. No one wants to post a picture of their kitchen table doubling as a laundry table and dishes sitting on the counter because there isn’t any more room in the sink, or the Cheezits wrappers shoved under their kid’s bed. We think those things make us look “less than” to the ladies in our book club, or their mother in law, or Karen from PTA. No one wants to tell the story about the fight they had with their spouse because all this togetherness is A LOT!
We think if we can’t do it all, we aren’t enough.
And yes, there are people who manage to have it all together and cleaning is your love language, ya’ll keep on keeping on (although you should know I will always picture in my mind that you have a closet like Monica on Friends where you shove all the things that don’t have a home…don’t tell me it’s not true…I refuse to hear you). That’s awesome for you! I have stuff that makes me great at life too (but it’s definitely not that). We all have strengths and weaknesses. That’s okay. It’s not, no matter what social media says, a competition.
Find things that bring light to you and your people during the tough times. If those things are learning Mandarin or cleaning the baseboards, rock on with your bad selves. If watching a movie with takeout for the 8th time that week is more your speed, keep up the good work. If hiding in your closet with leftover Easter candy, praying that no one finds you, that’s okay too. You aren’t alone. You aren’t failing. There is an offer of grace right where you are. So take it, hold it, and write a reminder on your hand if you tend to forget. You are enough. You win by still showing up for your partner, for your family, your people and for yourself.
“Every time you fall down, at the bottom of every hole is grace.
Grace waits in broken places. Grace waits at the bottom of things.
Grace loves you when you are at your darkest worst, and wraps you in the best light.
Grace seeps through the broken places and seeps into the lowest places, a balm for wounds.”