The purpose of a bad day

Not often, but occasionally, I have days that hit me with the enormity of the fear that maybe, just maybe, all my struggles and triumphs and day-to-day banalities are all for naught.  That it doesn’t really matter if I live this day well, or try a little harder to get that task done, or remember to curb my tongue of the petty criticisms that may make my daughter cry.  Why would it matter, if life is indeed pointless, whether I were a good mother to my children, faithful and loving to my spouse, or tried to be a good neighbor to my fellow man?  What would be the point, even, of getting out of bed?

I have a tendency to be over-sensitive to other people’s moods and attitudes, and today was a poster day for that.  My mother, meaning well, sent me a light-hearted text about how she just saw the State Department had issued a travel warning for Europe, citing terrorist fears.  She knows that I have been beginning to plan for a trip to Europe with friends in 2017, and she knows I am excited and have been furtively sneaking away from my kids to Google search hotels and tourist sites in anticipation of this journey.  So while I appreciate her concern (and, really, do I think the threat of terrorism anywhere will decrease in the next decade or so?) I didn’t see how this benign text added anything of a positive nature to my day.  In fact, it sort-of depressed me.  Yes, it is true.  Yes, it is scary.  But…why share it with me?  Was her goal to scare me?  Or to let me know she was worried for my safety in some way?  Whatever her intent, the text irritated and depressed me.  It seemed almost a subtle way of saying, “I know you have this fun plan for your life, but guess what? It is raining on your parade.  Right now. You can’t win, so don’t even try.

I got through the rest of my crazy day with the kids and karate, and came home, proud of myself for having prepared a crock-pot minestrone so we could eat right away after getting home at 6:30.  I grabbed the mail and saw that some travel guides I requested had arrived; we want to go to the West coast this summer for vacation.  Excited about that, I mentioned it to Hubby, who I instantly realized had arrived home under a cloud of crabbiness.  He said, “I don’t even want to talk about vacations.  The new company [who is taking over operations at Hubby’s work tomorrow] sounds like it wants to get rid of our division/make everyone move to somewhere horrible if they want to keep their jobs/fire me/make me take a huge pay cut and work 1,000 hours of unpaid overtime.”  Instantly, my mood switches to OMIGOD WE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO MOVE AND THE KIDS CAN’T GO THROUGH THAT AGAIN AND I DON’T WANT TO MOVE AND MAYBE WE WILL BE BROKE AND HAVE TO FORECLOSE ON OUR HOUSE AND DECLARE BANKRUPTCY AND I AM NOT QUALIFIED TO WORK ANYWHERE BECAUSE ALTHOUGH I HAVE A DEGREE I HAVE NEVER HELD A REAL JOB AND EVERYTHING I HAVE DONE THIS LAST NINE YEARS WILL HAVE BEEN FOR NOTHING BECAUSE STAY-AT-HOME MOMS ARE NOT VALUABLE IN THE GRAND SCHEME OF THINGS AND THIS CROCKPOT MINESTRONE I MADE FOR DINNER IS ABSOLUTELY AWFUL I AM A HORRIBLE HOUSEWIFE.

It really should be said that Hubby and I got very little sleep last night because Spike, who is recovering from a horrendous sunburn, couldn’t sleep and came down into our bed last night.  And then, that adorable 3-year-old proceeded to have a horrible day of “three-nager”ness (which Hubby defined as, “Spike’s feet woke up on the wrong side of my back this morning.”) which was such fun.

Ok.  No sleep.  No sleep makes you feel like life.  Is not worth.  Living.  Seriously.

Anxiety can be caused by little to no sleep.  Anxiety makes you fear things that are…mayyyybe real possibilities…but very slim chances.  Like terrorists targeting you on vacation.  And anxieties relating to job loss and perpetual poverty.  And freaking out over the fact that you might not be a perfect wife and mother.

Hubby is nervous about the new company taking over.  That is completely understandable.  New management, new way of doing things, new corporate culture.  But perhaps we should focus on what we can control.  We can’t control if our boss decides to downsize us.  We can’t control if the company wants to headquarter elsewhere.  We have no control over what the future ultimately holds.  We really don’t.  It’s honestly terrifying.

I seek solace in the knowledge that about four years ago, we were in the same place.  Spike was on the way, Hubby was laid off, we had no permanent dwelling, and Hubby and I were both scared to death.  I prayed.  I prayed without ceasing.  I was so afraid of so many things, and God said “Trust.”

Trust.

Trust that I have your future in my hands.  Trust that I know exactly what you need, and will not give you more than you can handle.  Trust that I love you and I will not let you falter.

Be not afraid.  Be not afraid.  I am with you and will never leave you. 

I can believe.  I can believe God is in control.  I can believe that he will be beside me in whatever I may encounter.  I can believe there is a purpose and a reason to everything.  When I doubt, when I want to run the other way, God is there to remind me that His will pervades all.  His love conquers all.  And his purpose for our lives permeates and engulfs us all.  So it is not for nothing that we struggle with [yes, the banalities of laundry and stinky diapers] our tasks and it is not for nothing that we strive for Heaven in our lives.  It is what makes life worth living…it is what makes life so precious…and it is what we will not abandon when we are forced to abandon our dreams for anything else.  It is through trust in His plan that we can forge ahead with all we may encounter….even on a bad day:-)

 

 

 

 

 

The Mercy of Failed Best-Laid-Plans

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photo credit: freeimages.com

I have trouble leaving the house on time.  And with four little ones to hustle to the minivan with all the requisite lesson stuff and shoes and coats and underwear (yes, as it so happens, my dear Bellie one day “forgot” her undergarments on a trip to the grocery store.  And she was wearing a skirt.  She didn’t get what the big deal was.) it gets a little frenzied at times.  We generally are never more than 10minutes 15minutes 30 minutes late.  So, I have taken to “padding” our ETL (Estimated Time of Leaving).  It takes approximately half an hour to get to town from The Ranch. (We love living in the country, but the time to commute must be factored in).  Then, I add 15 minutes to “transition” from house to car.  I don’t know why getting the kids out the door, into the van, and strapped takes 15 minutes, but it does.  Prior to that, I make sure the kids are properly anticipating the Leaving of the House.  They get warnings at 10-minute intervals for at least thirty minutes prior to the “transition” 15 minutes.  Needless to say, it is a process.  And one that requires constant vigilance to the clock on my part.

Yesterday, I considered it a victory when I had herded all the kids plus myself into the car so we could leave the house at that exact 30-minutes-to-commute mark.  Phew!  I turned my key in the ignition and – CLICK.  My battery was dead.

Now, our geriatric minivan battery has been on its last legs for several months.  I was not sure if I would even be able to jump start it back to life, and we were late for Junior’s karate class anyway at this point, so I opted to just say screw it and stay home.  I texted Hubby to be sure to pick up a new battery on the way home from work.

The weird part was, I was really ticked off about this turn of events.  It was no big deal.  Karate wasn’t a requirement, and the kids were, by and large, pleased that they got an evening off from running to town.  It gave me extra time to get the kitchen cleaned up and dinner on the table.  We could afford a new car battery and my car had died, conveniently, in our own driveway so I was not stuck somewhere foreign with four unhappy kiddos and the logistics of getting home to think about.  The situation was nothing bad.

So, why was I irked?  Because, it was not in my plan.  And, certainly, when I had begun the whole “count down” routine an hour and fifteen minutes before Junior’s karate class was due to start at 5pm, I was single-mindedly working toward my goal of getting out of the house and to class on time.  My reward was to be that, having dropped Junior off, I would sit in my car and gloat over the fact that I was such a great CEO of my time.

Best-Laid-Plans.

I was just musing over the fact that we human beings are obsessed with control.  Regardless of whether you consider yourself a control freak or more laissez-faire, each one of us is invested somewhat in being able to control our looks, our health, our family members, and, yes, our future.  Or perhaps, I should say, invested in the illusion that we are, in every instance, in control.

As a mother, I really struggle with the concept of control.  First of all, having four littles running around like banshees the vast majority of the time makes one feel very out-of-control.  And, by nature, I am a control freak.  I want to be able to control my children’s behavior at all times.  And shouldn’t I?  Won’t the general populace look upon me with derision and scorn if I am unable to control my children’s behavior in a public place?  Won’t I be neglecting my duties as a parent if I don’t control my children’s media time, the friends they have, and their time spent doing homework?  It’s commonly agreed that involved parents are better for creating the next generation’s leaders and contributing members of society than parents who let their children do whatever they want.  Isn’t this all about control?  If I can control every aspect of my day, including my children’s behavior, activities, and schedule, won’t that guarantee they will lead happy, safe, and successful existences?

The truth is, I can’t.  None of us can.  Trying to be in charge of our circumstances 100% of the time is impossible.  We do our best, and need to learn to let go of the rest.  And honestly, if I naively think I can or should be in control all the time, where does that place God in my life?  It relegates Him to a minor, supporting role.  As a Christian, I believe in an All-powerful, All-knowing, All-in -Control diety.  I need to remind myself that much of the time, IT DOESN’T ALL DEPEND ON ME, and then leave the rest to Him.  He is in control, and He knows what He is doing.  His plans may not be my plans.  It is merciful that He allows me to have “reality checks” once in awhile that remind me of that, even in the annoying guise of car trouble.

Those two blue lines on the pregnancy test when Hubby & I were “done” having children?

Only able to find a minimum-wage retail job after I graduated from college in the midst of the recession?

Having to cancel a much-anticipated trip when Hubby lost his job?

All dressed to the nines for Christmas mass when the youngest child gets a violent incarnation of the stomach flu?

God says, “You’ve done all you can, now let me handle this.  It’s OK.”

And you know what?  Somehow, it does always wind up being OK.  And I breathe a sigh of relief that I no longer have to be the Atlas of Control.  But I probably will still ask God’s help for getting me out of the house on time.