And today I broke.
I just walked in my backdoor, closed the bathroom door, got in the shower, and started crying – that big, ugly, guttural cry that is so very unattractive and yet so very necessary at times.
There was nothing wrong. Not really. Nothing Earth shattering or life altering.
I’m just tired.
One of the aspects of parenting that gives it some of its beauty is the constancy of it. There are no breaks. There are no time outs. There’s no punching out at the end of the day or taking a vacation.
And I love that. I love the sacrifice it requires. What better to take us out of ourselves and our own messes than the life and health and love of someone we helped to create?
And yet at times, I can feel like I’m drowning.
I don’t like saying it out loud. It makes me feel like I’m whining or complaining, making my life out to be harder than most.
But deep down, that’s not what I feel like I am doing. I feel like I am acknowledging and giving voice to the sometimes draining nature of it.
I’ve been thinking about self-donation a lot lately. About how the love we have as a parent or a spouse is called to be sacrificial. We are meant to give ourselves away as a gift. We gain our fulness when we pass on pieces of ourselves to others.
And this is a beautiful thing. I believe it’s the only way to really find true joy.
And yet sometimes, the giving can feel less like a donation and more like a seeping or a pillaging or a leeching. We can stop feeling like we are consciously giving ourselves away and instead feel like something is being taken from us.
And I don’t believe this happens because of selfishness, or at least not fully because of selfishness. I think, for many of us, this happens because we don’t fill ourselves up. After all, we cannot give away that which we don’t have. And lately, I haven’t had a lot to give.
I’ve been getting so angry with myself lately. I’ve been cranky and irritable. I lack patience. I’m failing at what it is that I most want to do well.
And when I try to find patience or I try to pray for patience, the idea that keeps coming back to me is that I simply cannot give that which I don’t have.
And honestly, I don’t know how to fill myself up when there is almost no time to do such.
I’ve been so overwhelmed lately with responsibilities. I can’t even take care of myself much less help others stay above water. I’ve had to cancel the only dental appointment I’ve been able to make in years because they wouldn’t let my children come with. We’ve been out of groceries, shopping only for days and moments at a time, because I can’t find the strength and patience to go to the grocery store for an hour with three little people who all run in different directions as soon as we get anywhere. And I haven’t been out on a date with my husband in twenty months. I’m ashamed of that last one.
I need a break. I need a breather. I need to be able to get my head above water if only for two breaths so that I can go back down beneath and pull others up with me.
I want to keep us all afloat. I want to keep us safe and happy and peaceful. But I find it so hard when I’m down there desperately kicking about trying to catch just one breath.
And I get that this is life. This is what I happily signed up for, and this is what I wouldn’t hesitate one single moment to jump into again. It’s my life, and it’s beautiful. I just feel like sometimes we have to acknowledge the struggles if we want to be able to release some of the tension.
And that’s all I’m trying to do. Again, I’m not trying to complain or moan about my very blessed life. It’s just not real if we only share the good parts. And some times I think it’s the struggles that unite us more than the joys.