Nothing yells entitlement like dashed hopes. I needed alone time: to write, read, or just sit with a cup of coffee without chatter or anyone touching me. Just for a bit. I wasn’t asking too much. My husband, too, was on board. But you know what happened? The stomach virus from hell that makes you want to die. And not me, but the hubby. There goes my alone time, my sustenance for the soul.
So I showed up at my friend’s house with four crazy kids and we intervened in kid fights and big feelings while we commiserated and milk poured out of our breasts for these babes that never stop needing, never stop touching. And I wavered between wanting my cup of coffee from a drive-thru and my polka-dotted top to bring me back to myself and also realizing that coffee and clothes are just ways to numb myself. (Socially acceptable ways of course). Because really sometimes a bit of sugar, or caffeine, or a cute outfit can make your day. And there’s a fine line for using these substances appropriately — to appreciate them as moments to pause, as gifts — and using them to escape, to feed into entitlement.
I’m wrestling with escape. I actually have been daydreaming about leaving the kids and just hoping on a plane with my hubby for an exotic beach vacation. Because there’s always someone on Facebook with the Vogue beach body halfway around the world drinking a mojito, and here I am with tired eyes, spider veins, and a cup of coffee, with breastmilk poring out, when all I want is one good night’s sleep. Because when I’m honest, I want escape and the “I-deserve-that-mojito-and-tan” attitude is the death of my daily joy. Because I am here, now, not in Bora Bora. And living in Bora Bora in my mind will only take away form the gifts of now. And then I turn to Pinterest and I find more than a bagizillion ways in which I’m not measuring up as a mommy/crafter/writer/party-thrower. Because I don’t have impromptu “Frozen” parties or make my boys a teepee or paint wooden figurines or brew Kombucha. I see food as the enemy, parties for only entertaining with the latest barware and the saddlebags on my thighs as proof that I’m not enough. That’s the lie: that I could ever be enough. And that’s what I run up against day after day. What I strive for: to be enough; to fulfill myself, my family, my community’s hopes and dreams. Thankfully I am not their savior, though it seems my actions and attitudes sure seem to want to lean that way.
What I’m realizing is that I both am enough and am not enough. You see, I attempt to be enough to my husband, kids and friends through what I do (bring meals, make meals, make cool crap) rather than whose I am. A lot of self-help books keep spouting that “you are enough”, “you are not broken”. And that’s a load of junk. Because I am broken. You are broken. Brokenness is where we live and move and have our being. And yet there is beauty there too, just in existing, just in being, just in breathing in and out, even (and perhaps because of) the brokenness. So in that sense, yes, I am enough, but not in the sense that I have an innate value apart from my identity in the Story.
The Story that relishes the moment, the hard moments, where something is made from nothing and where life comes from death. A Story not built upon comfort or physical beauty but of the beauty of vulnerability, of sacrifice, of constant pouring out. And so this motherhood thing is part of the grand narrative where I get to experience the mystery and beauty and pain of death in life and life in death. Because the noise and the chatter and the touching sometimes feels like death; other times it feels like my house is so full of life it’s going to burst. It’s a Story where my cute top and skirt and cup of coffee do not save me from my spiraling into self-doubt and “woe is me” lack of solitude, but they do remind me of the good gifts that surround me. That as much as my frustration and anger are poured out, so is the stuff that brings life: from breast milk to the thousand little deaths to selfishness that inhabit my daily hours.
And maybe I’ll just give up on Facebook or Pinterest and instead celebrate the lives around me.