There has been something about the new year that I haven’t quite been able to shake. Maybe I set too high of expectations for a “new year” to bring new things. Or possibly, it’s been harder to settle into my routine after the holidays than I imagined. I’m not sure what it is, but this year has just felt hard so far. I’ve been feeling unhappy, off-kilter, and all of the sudden very uncomfortable from being pregnant and having to deal with a toddler all day too.
I’ve hit writers block the past few weeks in a time where I thought I’d be going full force here. Any time life gets “hard,” I back away from the blog. Mostly because less social media always does me good when I’m struggling. But also because I still struggle with finding my voice when things are not ideal. But I love writing through things, so here is my attempt at making sense of my “funk.”
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I’m sure it has good merit for some people, but for me, this phrase couldn’t be more opposite of helpful.
Not too long ago, I used to believe this phrase and that more work would bring more joy. The biggest wake up call lately has been that more work just equals more stress, more striving, and always feeling unhappy. More work is more work, no matter how you slice it. Of course life calls for work. We all have things that need to get done or actual jobs to go to, but life can’t be all about striving and just trying harder.
Since life has been crazy lately, not necessarily yielding the results I’ve desired, I’ve eased up. When the going has gotten tough, I’ve gotten soft – on myself. And I’m trying to be soft to others around me (but I’m definitely not perfect in that department, just ask my husband 😉 ). I’ve come to realize that when things are hard, whatever that may mean in different seasons of life, being kinder to myself, requiring less of myself, and slowing down is the only thing that has brought contentment.
Most of you know I’m a neat-freak chores person. I love cleaning and my ultimate goal all of the time is to have a clean space. Add in real life which equates to three other people living in the house – one of them being someone who is still working on always getting the fork to her mouth – and I don’t exactly have a recipe for The World’s Cleanest Home. I’ve struggled with this idol (and totally recognize it is one at times) for years. And trying harder by cleaning more, picking up every little thing all the time as soon as I see it has never ever brought me peace.
Deep down, I know that the Lord has made me a “clean” person. For years, I used to beat myself up for desiring things to be neat and clean, but in the end I realized I was really just beating myself up for the way God made me. I’ve come to terms with how I am, but I’ve also had to work smarter and not harder so I don’t lose my ever loving mind about crumbs on the floor.
I’m also a schedule person – or heck, let’s just be blunt and call me a control person because that’s what schedules and cleaning really come down to. This week, our schedule has been different. We had Monday off, which was a lovely day of snorkeling and sunshine. Thank you, Hawaii. My husband also decided to take Tuesday off so we’d have a nice long weekend. Claire was sick all day Tuesday and still is. So most of the day that we had set aside to be productive was spent watching Frozen on the couch and trying our best to entertain our cranky, feverish toddler.
And that brings me to today (now yesterday). It was supposed to be my first MOPs meeting of the year, but I couldn’t bring Claire since she was sick, so we stayed home. We stayed in our pajamas until 10:30. I let her watch as much Doc McStuffins as she wanted while I snuggled up to her while I stuffed the cloth diapers. She ate a popsicle after breakfast because I knew it would make her feel good. And right now, she’s already been napping an hour earlier than normal, there are Mega Bloks all over the floor, and I have “done nothing” except shower and eat some microwaveable pad thai.
Old me would be in a tizzy right now that we haven’t left the house yet, that I didn’t get a workout in, that I missed the MOPs meeting, that C has had a fever for two days now. The old me would be beating myself up for the variance in our schedule called real life.
But the me writing this right now is more than happy that I gave Claire everything I could to make her comfortable and happy, despite constant whining. Me right now is not bothered by the blocks on the floor because I know they will get picked up someday and it doesn’t have to be right now. Me right now knows that I have a long afternoon ahead of me with a most likely very cranky, needy toddler. But I also know that there are days she doesn’t need me this much, so it’s okay. It will all balance out.
I still struggle and have days where I will be bent out of shape because there are blocks on the floor or the day I had planned is going nothing like what I thought it would. Each day is a chance for me to remember that when the going gets tough and I go to God, he doesn’t say “that’s nice, but you need to pray more or harder.” He doesn’t say I have to be better or be anything to receive grace. I just have to simply be in need and seek Him and he gives, gives, gives. If motherhood and the trials of my life lately have taught me anything, it is how to give myself the simple act of grace when I need it most.
So while I could look at my life in terms of what I have not done – the dishes, edited photos for work, written more blog posts, read more books, mopped the floors more recently than last year – all that does is bring me down and shine a light onto the have nots. I’m trying desperately to look at my life in terms of what I do have. And even if that is a crumby floored, toys everywhere, less-than-perfect home, I can sit here on this beautiful day and say it is enough – so much more than enough.
Questions for You:
- How has the new year felt to you so far? Tough or better than you imagined? Why?
- How do you struggle with perspective in your own life?