Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Unseen


Earlier this week, I shared an article that did an accurate job of summarizing many of the challenges we as parents have endured through this arduous season of COVID-19. “COVID Parenting Has Passed the Point of Absurdity,” was it’s title and the full version can be accessed here. The decision fatigue. The ever-changing dynamics of policy and system. The lack of good options. It has all been so much. As I sit here writing this, I’m wearing the exact same outfit as yesterday (minus the underwear, which is fresh) because that felt exponentially easier than selecting new clothing for today. Yesterday’s style served me well, so why not wear it again and repeat? I don’t want to have to weigh options and decide even one more thing.  

There have been so many times over the past 23 months where I have had the desire to put some of my pandemic thoughts and struggles to the page, but stopped. What is it that gave me pause? Beyond a basic lack of time and energy was the root motivation that I didn’t want to create yet another point of contention. I didn’t want to rock a boat that was barely staying afloat to begin with. I lacked confidence that outwardly expressing my inner turmoil would result in anything more than additional hurt and pain. What if people judged me? What if they didn’t “get” it? What if they didn’t understand what I was saying? What if they couldn’t relate? Still worse, what if they disagreed with me? What if they thought I was crazy? 

The article I opened with hit on many of the “hot spots” living in a pandemic has brought to the surface. I would add to it another point of challenge that could use a little more air time. As I attempt to boil down my internal experiences of the last two years (about as simple a task as eradicating the virus itself), one word continues to come to the surface:

Unseen.

One of my deep longings is to be seen, known and understood. And when those three things are met, I’m well on my way to feeling accepted, a fourth desire that my humanity aches after. Though I have waded my way through many, many messy emotions over these past two years, I have a growing awareness that this has been a painful season of feeling unseen by many of those around me. With the severity of the divides in our nation right now, I imagine we can all relate to this feeling, though the angles from which we are experiencing it might differ. 

I looked up the definition of the word “unseen.” The dictionary describes it as not seen, noticed or perceived. Unobserved, invisible. Not known about by anyone. 

My obsession with language led me to research words that are considered nearby to the word, “unseen.” My search resulted in the following: imaginary, imagined, lurking, dark, undiscovered. “Imaginary” suggests that something is made up or unreal, which for a facts-obsessed person like myself, triggers all my insecurities about being considered crazy. But from this list it was the word “lurking” that really jumped out at me. When one is lurking, it implies they are here, but uninvited, an unwelcome presence in the shadows, one who doesn’t belong. Taken all together, when one goes unseen, a smallness is implied, which, if left unchecked, can rapidly evolve in a sense of being devalued or unworthy. 

There is no denying that COVID has changed our relationships tremendously, some for better, many for worse. Throw a bunch of humans who are just hanging on by a thread into a room for a couple of years and wish them well and they will inevitably begin clawing at each other in their desperation to make sense of the situation. How did we get here? Why are we here? How do we get out? When we aren’t mauling each other like angry caged animals, we are dividing into separate camps and turning our backs on each other, ignoring one another in frustration.

I have always been one to hold deep personal convictions and I have fought throughout this pandemic to maintain them to the best of my ability. I have a number of trusted sources that I have looked to for guidance and safety recommendations on a whole myriad of situations. I have gone to great lengths to operate by the books, sometimes obsessively, according to the best research I know to be available. The decisions have been endless. Pushing through these two years has involved weighing risk and risk tolerance on constant repeat. For a natural overthinker, this has been nothing short of sheer torture. 

My convictions, and perhaps yours as well, have required saying “no” a lot more often than “yes.” It’s no wonder relationships have suffered! Being told “no” stings, whether we are a toddler wanting a piece of cake we spy on the counter, or an adult wanting to plan a gathering like the pre-pandemic olden days. Our worlds have undergone a significant shrink. We see less people. We share tables with smaller numbers. We no longer participate in many regular activities we once held dear. And though these changes have taken place under the umbrella of safety, when it comes to relationships, it is hard to not take them personally. Whether we are on the receiving or giving end of less, when we no longer hold the space we once did, there are painful questions that rise to the surface. Do I matter, and, how much? 

I have found this to be true when my personal COVID-related convictions bump up against the convictions of those around me. Especially earlier on in the pandemic, I encountered pushback against my boundaries that surprised me. After doing years of work to find my voice, it became apparent rather quickly that, in this season, it felt far too exhausting to use it. It was full-time survival mode for all of us. 

I was ill-prepared for the new complexities I found in relationships, and after a few painful attempts at trying to explain myself, I shut down. Whether closing myself off was the best choice in a sea of not-good options, I will never know. But that's what happened. Rather than exerting more energy to defend my choices or express where I was coming from, or explore my root insecurities that were being triggered, I gave up. We were all operating in our own orbits of stress, and the tremendous gravitational pull of crisis and chaos prevented us from seeing each other and attempting to understand the places we differed. 

I choose to give us all the benefit of the doubt - if we hadn’t each been enduring our own significant shock waves of change, perhaps we would have been better able to see what those around us were walking through. But we didn’t. And couldn’t.

For me personally, rather than fighting for space to make an imprint, I accepted my seat at the table that went by the name, “Unseen.” It just felt easier.  

And yet, accepting this fate did not erase my longings. I want to make sense. I want others to know my motivations and heart. It comes down to that deep-wired desire I mentioned earlier - see me, know me, understand me. Perhaps, you can relate?

The disagreement, the tension. At times, it has made me second guess, taking yet another ride around the spin cycle. When my choices have differed from those around me, I’ve found myself asking a million times over, “Am I crazy? What is a reasonable standard to hold myself to? Someone please draw me a line. WHERE IS THE LINE!?” 

I am so very, very tired of it all. Of the awkwardness. Of the confusion. 

I remember expressing to my therapist at one point during the pandemic how I wanted someone to help make a chart for me that would divide my thoughts and perspectives into two columns: “Crazy” and “Not Crazy.” Could someone please just bring order to this madness? I have often felt like I have lost all metrics to help me make sense of where I land in this mess. 

My therapist did not oblige this request, a point I found rather vexing. Fire her! What use could she possibly be to me if she couldn’t help me categorize this chaos? Most annoyingly, she did not provide me with a one-size-fits-all pathway forward. She did not tell me what was right and what was wrong (again, fire her!) Rather, she challenged me to continue identifying my own personal convictions and stand confident in them, without looking for the affirmation and agreement of others. 

It has been a brutally painful process for me, making decisions that don’t always jive with those around me. It has meant standing out in a crowd at times (my worst favorite). Saying no when others dear to me say yes. Asking hard and uncomfortable things of others. I have hated every last minute of it. And wasted hours of my life agonizing over how my decisions might impact, disappoint, and bother those around me. 

I have to keep coming back to the fact that, at the end of the day, these hard decisions are rooted in a desire to do good by my community, look out for those at greater risk than I, protect my neighbors, and stand up for my beloved, tired, exhausted people in healthcare. “We” before “me.” Others won’t always take the time to parse out my internal motivators, and the reverse is true as well. 

I am working to connect the dots of my experience, I suspect a fairly universal experience, of sitting heads down while surrounded by people, at tables in front of place cards that read “Unseen.” As I process, the dots that once felt scattered across the page, clouded by storms of emotion, are beginning to make sense. I wonder how often our sense of value became intimately entangled where it shouldn’t have. When we feel unseen, a mere half step away is the experience of feeling unvalued. I am confident that none of us, in our modes of apparatus, set out with intent to communicate a lack of value to those orbiting around us. This was a result of our hunkering down into survival mode, doing the best we could in our own ways to push through what will likely be the greatest collective trauma our generation will face. 

Wow. It’s no wonder this season has deeply wounded us.

Feeling unseen is painful yet it is not the worst possible outcome. Where does this leave us? I imagine we could all tell our own story of the ways we have felt invisible or unnoticed during the past 23 months. What comes to mind is the old adage that the same input brings about the same output. We can’t expect a different result unless we change what we are putting in. I’ve been pondering what my pivot point might look like in order for me to break away from the pain I’m holding from feeling unseen. Others have failed to see me. I have failed to see. It’s inevitable in our world right now, is it not? 

Perhaps the movement I can make toward healing involves surrendering my desire to be seen by everyone around me. I was never promised this kind of knowing on this earth. Does this mean we should stop seeking to see each other? I should hope not. Does this make the hurt we have experienced OK? No. But we need not hold onto it forever. It isn’t serving us well. 

While many won't see us, I pray a handful will. I long for each of us to find small spaces where we are seen, known, understood, and safe. This takes hard work and showing up vulnerably, over and over, even when we’d rather just hide. And when these safe spaces let us down, as they certainly will, may we rest in the knowledge that we are known and seen and loved intimately by God. 

 “You have searched me, Lord,

and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways.”

~Psalm 139:1-3


May that be enough. 


Saturday, January 22, 2022

Finally, a word

There was a short time where I would pray for a word to surface at the beginning of each year that I would adopt as my annual theme. I would meditate on it, lean into it, and focus on developing whatever it entailed into my daily living. I took a break from this practice, as with most things I held familiar, in the year 2020. I made a couple feeble attempts to land on one, but no single word seemed fitting, and anything I was pondering in January was gone like vapor when March blew in with barreling force. 

Early on in 2021, I tried to pick the practice back up but no word was surfacing so I chose one I liked and briefly claimed my annual word would be “lavish.” It was less a word that came to me in prayer and more one I tried to coerce upon the 365 days that lay before me as I pleaded, “God please let this year feel like a lavish table after what we endured in the last.” My claim over the word endured a solid three weeks before I released it and laughed and decided that 2021 was another year that couldn’t be wrapped up neatly into a singular word. The year was anything but lavish in the way I had dreamed. 


I didn’t try to force the practice this year. Admittedly, I have felt a bit wary of calling out a word, lest I land myself in a similar space as I did these past two years. But I’m trying to hold this exercise loosely, and allow it to serve me well when it does, and let it go when it doesn’t. This year, a word bubbled up on it’s own. My word for this year is


SPARK. 


Just typing it makes me grin like I’ve got a little something up my sleeve. As a word, it’s a bit whimsy and fun, and not super serious, which basically makes it 100% my opposite. But these are all qualities I want to foster and I haven’t felt the buzz of excitement the word brings me in a really long time. I can’t wait to see what God does with it. 


So why SPARK? As I was praying over my year, I found myself longing to feel more fully alive, more joyful, and to savor this life that I’m living. Other word options that came to my mind started with “re” - revive, refresh, renew. All of them danced around the theme of coming alive again after a season of dormancy. But spark? It’s a flash, a buzz, a crackle. It seems like nothing at first, but can quickly grow into a warm blaze, or a roaring fire. Something small catches and comes alive. It’s the catalyst that brings about the revival. It’s what gets things going. It’s playful and has a mind of it’s own. It’s the fun part. It doesn’t wait to be invited. It sparks to life wherever it lands.


The dictionary defines spark as: a small fiery particle thrown off from a fire, alight in ashes, or produced by the striking together of two hard surfaces such as stone or metal. To set off in a burst of activity. A feeling or quality that causes excitement.


I think a fork in the road is coming; I feel like I am on the cusp of something new. Where life of late has felt like one, long straight path of monotony, I feel like I’m emerging from dormancy. Metal has been rubbing against stone. The hardships aren’t for naught. Finally, there it is! A spark. Let it out. Jesus, take these stirrings within me and blow them wide open. Let a gust of wind catch the tiny glow. Fan that spark and let it come ablaze. 

Monday, December 6, 2021

Though that was shorter

I’ve been working my way through a bout of anxiety that is most certainly stealing my joy, not to mention my ability to be present with anything going on in front of me. It has made it difficult to think for even a second about the season of Advent that is upon us. I’ve wanted some sort of “spot-treatment” medication to get me through this blip. I’ve been a little miffed at God for not removing this physical experience from my body when I request it.

It wasn’t Exodus, the second book in the Old Testament, that I expected would be the thing to lift my spirits today. It’s never been the book I have heard referenced as a trusted option when “looking for a word of encouragement.” It chronicles horrific plagues in the land of Egypt, frustrated Israelites enslaved in captivity, and one very stubborn and power-hungry Pharaoh who is refusing to release them. The story it tells really hasn’t been very much of an upper so far.  

I was caught off guard this morning when I picked up my Bible to complete this week’s assigned reading Exodus chapter 13. Verse 17 reads, “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”

It’s the last part of that first sentence that got to me, “…God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.”

Though that was shorter.

These words could have easily been left out of the text or deemed an extra detail. But the significance their presence brings to the story is so important. It’s a blatant statement that there was a shorter route out there for God’s people to follow. But it wasn’t the one God chose. I am a lover of efficiency, so this hit me hard this morning.

At first, it felt a little harsh. Some might argue feels perhaps even mean, reading how God had his people take the long way home. I was a bit annoyed myself, until I read the sentence that follows in the last part of the verse. I’m not a biblical scholar, but it becomes clear that the motivation for this indirect route was inspired by deep love and tenderness. God knew that if His people faced war, “…they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” The way by the desert road, though longer in distance, will spare them their freedom. Were they to find themselves in the midst of yet another battle with their former captors, they might to tempted to just give in. So, God, in His mercy, takes them a different way, This “long way home” is for their protection and betterment.

“…God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.

I think about all the places in my life where I long for efficiency. There are so many hurts that could have been spared, had I been taken on the more direct route. Certainly, I would be less tired if I was on a shorter path. In a world devastated by heartache, it’s easy to be tempted by the ease of the short cut or the appeal of a quick fix.

As I ponder specific instances in my life, I recognize how much richness and depth would have been lost had I taken on the more direct route that I desired. The people I would have missed. All the sites not seen. The mountain peaks and the deep valleys. The rivers I would have never had to forge and conquer. There can be a treasured richness to the lengthy journey, even if it takes more time.  

Whether it’s anxiety we want to get through faster, or some other form of personal health issue that we want to be done with. Whether it’s COVID we want to end. Or increased intimacy we desire in our marriage. Whether it’s clarity of purpose or calling we are looking for. There could be a shorter way. But efficiency often comes with a cost. The challenge I’m bumping up against today is do we trust God enough to lead us through the process? Even if we must take the long way?

Can we rest in the knowing that His path for us, full of unexpected and sometimes arduous curves and bends, is rooted in deep tenderness and great love? Sometimes, in that love, we might find ourselves doing the hard work and sitting in messy places for longer than we would prefer. We don’t need a shorter path. We need to grow our trust.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Safe

A couple months ago, we welcomed a sweet preschool-aged boy into our home for a 5-day stretch. This child’s history was colored and fuzzy, and it proved difficult to make sense of all that he had faced in his short little life thus far. But it was clear from the way he spoke that safety was something that he and his mother talked about regularly. Heartbreakingly, he knew what it was like to be safe, because he had experienced what it felt like to be unsafe. No child this young should have to know the difference between these two. But he knew.

When he came to stay with us, we were strangers. The level of trust his mother possessed, as well as the desperation she must have been experiencing in order to hand her baby boy over to a complete stranger is difficult to fathom. I tried to imagine what it must have been like for her to tell her young son that he was going to stay with a family who she knew very little about, that the crisis they were facing had reached a level where trusting a stranger to take her son for a few days was her best option, until she got her feet back under her. She knew next to nothing about us beyond the fact that we were vetted and background checked by the nonprofit organization through whom we were matched. How do you explain this sort of situation to a preschooler? I wasn’t there for the conversation but I think she must have told her son that he was going to a “safe place.” At that point, it was an act of faith, a freefall step into the unknown, hoping-beyond-hope that this strange place she was sending him off to lived up to the way it had been advertised. The rocky road they had been on, left them longing, needing a safe place to receive care.


We met the duo at a fire station. Maybe the mother told the fireman about the child pass-off arrangement that was about to commence, or maybe she didn’t. All I know is that, when we pulled into the station, we saw a blur of a mini human in full firefighter costume, whizzing past us, and the fireman told us the boy was on his thirty-second lap around the fire truck. It appeared that we were in for a very busy week ahead.

 

But the young boy fit into our home that week like liquid poured into a cup. It felt like he belonged. He meshed into our crew like he’d always been a part, adapting so well to suddenly having three temporary older sibling figures in his life. His fire truck-lapping escapade appeared to be for show; he required very little beyond feeding, clothing and being occasionally doted on once he was in our home. He came with us to our kids’ soccer games. He was present at school drop offs and pick-ups. It didn’t feel like we did much beyond setting a 6th place at our table, and proceeding with life as normal.


The task that feels mundane and meaningless might just be the very thing that carries the greatest significance. 


This is what God is teaching me, lately. But I’ll get back to that. 


Five days passed, and when our time together came to a close, I packed the boy’s few belongings back into the reusable grocery bag they came to us in. As I buckled him into the carseat in my van, I told him it was time to go back home to his mom. I will never forget what he said to me next. I swear the world fell totally silent as he looked me in the eye and announced in the candid way only a child can, “This is a safe place.”


It was so matter of fact. There was no question in his voice. It was a clear statement.


THIS is a safe place. My house. My car. My yard. My family. My kids. My husband. Me. All of it.  By the grace of God we lived up to the words his mom offered up to him before we met. 


“You are going to a safe place.”


I’m sure at that point, she said those words as a wish, a hope, a prayer for herself, willing them to be true, trying to believe them into fruition. And here her precious little boy sat, confirming their accuracy now that he was on the other side. 


I could barely keep myself from weeping. I was equal parts elated that he experienced us as safe as I was devastated that he had to have experienced the opposite in order to know the difference. It’s unfathomable. 


I hope this experience forever changes me. As I think about our world right now, I’m acutely aware of the importance of, and desperate need for, safety, both in the physical sense as well as in the emotional. I keep thinking about what it means to be a safe place to land for those around us. It is not often the big one-time acts that provide a sense of safety. Rather, it is the repetitive showing up, being available, and proving oneself trustworthy in the little things that leaves the lasting impact. It’s the constant, subtle awareness of presence, the knowledge that someone is for you and behind you and saving space for you. This is a topic I hope to explore and ponder more in the future. This five day stretch of time reminded me yet again that even the mundane matters. What feels like nothing is a building block for something. The feeding and clothing and cleaning and driving. Just being present and available.


The task that feels mundane and meaningless might just be the very thing that carries the greatest significance. 


We fed and watered and attended to the basic needs of a human for a few days. And those actions resulted in a feeling of safety. If that’s not encouragement to keep trudging through the mundane day-to-day, I don’t know what is. Because Lord knows we all could use a few more safe places right about now!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

You can't uncork a champagne bottle slowly


(This post is primarily a massive vent-fest and has been intentionally left mostly unedited. Consider yourself warned).

 

The title of this post is the mental picture that surfaced when I thought about the waves of feels I’ve been riding this week. Once you pull the cork, out comes the contents, often with great force (and hopefully with some celebratory bubbles thrown in there somewhere too).

I thought I was mostly fine, or at least, I wasn’t expecting such a sudden outpouring of emotion when I allowed myself to slow down and actually consider all that was running through my mind. I’m so tired. That’s the root issue at hand. The fact that school is “out” for the summer tomorrow feels like some sick joke to me. It’s hard to rejoice in something being “out” when it feels as though it wasn’t ever fully “in.” I’m daunted by the idea of 5 days a week of kids at home with me, needing someone to create for them structure, needing for someone to keep them safe, needing for someone to take care of their every need. Perhaps this is what we all signed up for as parents but I will bet half of what is sitting in my savings account right now that no parent reading this will disagree with my saying that yes, we signed up for this, but we were also intended to shoulder this heavy load of rearing humans with a heck of a lot more support (and breaks!) than have availed themselves to us over the past 16 months of worldwide pandemic history in the making.

So yeah, I’m feeling really done. I have worked so hard to keep up my big girl panties and continue doing what I believe is being asked of me and oh man am I feeling over it. I’m so tired of being questioned. I’m so tired of people disagreeing. I have extreme decision fatigue. I’m so tired of having to weigh every situation and interaction and decide about the safety of extracurriculars because I am responsible for these 3 humans of mine, all of whom fall into the frustratingly grayer area where they ineligible for the vaccine. It's a lot to think about all the time.

Yesterday Emma made the following statement, completely out of nowhere: “I hear when you say thank you more, you are happier.”

It was humbling to hear the 4th-grade version of the importance gratitude come rolling off her tongue. Especially when not two days earlier, I had been venting to a friend how I know that eventually I will need to pull myself together and get out of this yucky ungrateful headspace and work on my level of contentment. But for right now, just for these couple of days, I wanted a guilt-free pass to just be tired with a side of angry. On a head level, I actually think this wish of mine is okay, essential even, a part of working through the layers of grief that this pandemic season has left in it’s wake. But it certainly is uncomfortable, especially when you have a constant narrator running in your head telling you that you are "supposed to be grateful" like I do. 

Some days though, it’s probably okay to just be tired. And overwhelmed. And weary.

I have to be honest. I really don’t want to do summer. Summer is typically a harder season for me to begin with – the lack of structure, the lack of alone time, the hours on end of parenting 3 humans with unique needs which means a one-size-fits-all technique never works. I kind of lost it on Graham last night when the topic of summer came up. I felt unfounded fury (which I’ve felt at various points throughout the pandemic) that he gets to LEAVE to go to work. This is entirely unfair as he is working his butt off at a very stressful job in order to pay the bills but in more clouded moments of overwhelm and desperation for a break that is approximately 1-2 months in length, these are the thoughts that surface. I am in a space this week where I would potentially give my left arm to be able to walk off the premises and release the care of my children (who, please hear me, despite the tone of these ventings, I do truly ADORE) to someone else whom I trusted. Do I really want to work full time? Heck no. Do I know what I would want to leave the premises to do? Heck no. Is that part of the problem? 100%.

So back to the title of this post. The cork came off the champagne bottle, and it's contents came out at full speed. In my emotional spewage, I expressed to Graham how I am so tired of shouldering all that I am. And how the monotony of my days makes me want to poke my eyes out. And how I feel like I have made zero progress toward anything in my time at home. He was stumped by this idea of progress. Progress toward what, he asked.

D-A-N-G-E-R! Abort mission! Whoops, wrong question to ask (poor guy – there really is zero winning in these sorts of situations).

I would pay money if I knew where I wanted to make progress! Progress toward greater contentment? Progress toward feeling fulfilled in my day to day? Perhaps finding a role somehow somewhere where I am compensated for my work? Sheesh. Pandemic or not, I certainly didn’t predict these inner wrestlings with "what I'm doing with my life" when I birthed my offspring! And I know I am not alone. I haven’t met a fellow mom yet who doesn’t struggle with satisfaction with their level of contribution. Should they be working more? Or working less? Kids grow us in ways we never foresaw coming.

So technically the cork actually came off the bottle in my therapy session at the beginning of the week. Last night's additional flow came after someone shook the bottle for another round. 😜 I almost canceled my appointment on Tuesday because I felt I had “nothing to talk about” (ha!) and was unenthused about spending an hour on a zoom call in awkward silence with my therapist. Surprise, surprise, I actually did have just a *couple* things on my heart that morning. As I launched into a tirade about my feeling so tired and done and trapped in the monotony of my life with a huge side of COVID stress, staring down summer with no sign of a break in sight, my therapist reminded me that I felt this way before, back when Jack was beginning kindergarten. I was wrestling with feeling unfilled and bored and wanting something new and different. I realized how much frustration I’m carrying that I am STILL in this same place. And then I remembered:

<INSERT GLOBAL PANDEMIC THAT PUT A HAULT ON EVERYTHING>

Oh yeah. That. 

Intellectually, I know that the pandemic has turned everything on it's head. But it’s super easy to lose sight of that fact in the moment and forget to extend grace for all that has gone on over the past 1 ½ years.

So many of us put our lives on hold. Our passions. The things we were hoping to pursue. Our free time. Without teaching certificates to our names, we have donned the role of “teacher,” spending hours upon hours, teaching, coaxing, motivating, reminding, dealing with technology we never wanted our children to have, trying to provide physical activity for them and us, supporting them emotionally and socially while also trying to keep them safe. We have spent 16 months protecting and fighting for these little humans, all the while trying to put on the we-can-do-this face so that no one loses their momentum (meanwhile, our own adult relationships have been put under massive strain but press on we must). Most of us have done all this without babysitters, without grandparents for a good portion of the time, without our communities of support, without daily in-person school to help shoulder the load.

It’s NO WONDER WE ARE SO FLIPPING TIRED. And that we kind of want to run away to a job, or a solo vacation or even to the woods all alone. When my therapist reflected back to me all that has been sacrificed this year, all the protecting of my people I have been doing, I totally lost it. I wanted to hug her through the screen and yell “THANK YOU!!! Thank you so much for saying that!” Suddenly it made complete sense that I was tired. Some of the guilt over feeling so many yucky emotions (like wanting to run away from my kids) lifted. Any sane human would feel this way after all that we’ve endured this year, all the closeness, no margins, no personal space.

Where do we go from here? This morning on my run, all of the songs that played on my Pandora station were about being tired and thirsty and coming to Jesus for eternal water. I found this super annoying that Jesus was being so in-my-face about needing to come to Him for sustenance. I knew that was ultimately where I would land, but I wasn’t there yet and I still wanted a hot minute to be mad and have a mini pity party and just be tired. I hate that I need to just wallow in the yuck for a bit but I’m working on being ok with it. As unattractive as it may be, I wonder if it’s not a part of the normal process to work our way through emotion and grief to get to the other side. It goes without saying that I had a major store up of rage-y tired emotions that were begging for release. I hope soon I can move to a place where I can get back on the saddle and hone in on "saying thank you more," to quote my 4th grader. But one day at a time.

I don’t know what exactly I’m hoping for in sharing all this. I know us mamas are really “in it” right now and I’m wondering if a fellow mother might see themselves in some of these words and relate. And then realize their feelings are okay and nothing to be ashamed of. Solidarity is always nice. I was so grateful to have someone reflect back for me all that this season has entailed for me personally. We've been asked to give constantly in roles this year that we didn't particularly ask for. There is good reason that we all feel so done.

If you've been stuffing some feels, take off the cork (warn your loved ones to take cover if need be) and let the emotions begin to flow (or explode if you are like me). The release is healthy, though admittedly at times very uncomfortable. Perhaps the release might be just catalyst needed to get you that break you’ve been so longing for (we can always hope!!!) 😜