Let me preface this with saying that this post has nothing to do with Christmas. Or the holiday spirit. Or the coming new year. In fact, it’s quite poorly timed with anything to do with what’s going on in the world. Really, all it has anything to do with is what’s going on in my head.
You see, I try to be very grateful for the blessings in my ordinary life — and, trust me, I’ve got quite a few. I mean, I have a cozy and beautiful home that’s filled with the life, light and laughter of my perfectly imperfect little family. I’ve got a career that I enjoy and a job where I get to work with some amazingly creative and inspiring people. I have a big, loud supportive and encouraging family. I have these friends that are pretty much family. Oh, yeah, I also have my health (that, truth be told, I still sometimes take for granted).
And, like the oft-shared, somewhat viral post will tell you:
- I recognize that dirty dishes mean I have food to eat.
- I understand that paying bills means I have a source of income — and lights and heat and water and trash pickup.
- I know that dirty clothes and household chores mean I have clothes on my back and a roof over my head.
- I totally appreciate that stressful work deadlines mean I have a job.
- And, most importantly, I know that wakeful nights with a baby who has yet to really sleep through the night mean I have a baby in my arms. Because — oh! — consider the alternative.
But, lately I’ve been seeing this trend where everyone is constantly reminding each other (I’m guilty of it, too!) to “be thankful for what you do have” — I mean, there are others less fortunate, after all — that we forget that sometimes it’s OK to have a bad day (or, even, bad days). It’s OK that sometimes life just feels like … too much. It’s OK to not immediately see the blessing in every setback or challenge or stressor.
Because, I’ll tell ya … life can be hard sometimes. And that’s all it is — nothing more, nothing less: hard. Balancing work and home and volunteering and family and friends and … and … and … ain’t easy.
And when we tell people they don’t have a right to feel overwhelmed now and again, that they should just walk around feeling blessed all the time, we tell them what they’re feeling isn’t real and that it doesn’t matter.
When we lose compassion for other people — when we take away someone’s right to just have a bad day — we take away the emotion of being human, part of what makes us who we are. After all, we weren’t created to walk around with a smile on our face at all times. We were created with the ability to experience a wide range of emotion and to be affected by the world around us.
So, just because I say “oh, man, I’m so tired … Dottie Lou didn’t sleep again last night — for the 317th night in a row” doesn’t mean I take one single second of it for granted. Because I don’t. Let’s be honest — I know the flipside of that coin. The side where there isn’t a baby home in my arms — where all that’s left of my baby are 38 days worth of memories in a small chest in my bedroom. I cherish every single second of it. But that doesn’t make it all sunshine and rainbows. It doesn’t make it easy.
I feel like when I lost Penelope Joy, I lost my right to ever be sad or stressed or angry or upset about anything. Ever. Because — it could be worse. My baby could be dead. (And there’s really not a lot worse than your baby dying — unless your dad dies a year later, almost to the day … cuz that might make it worse).
And I feel like when I complain or talk about something difficult in my life, it’s just so shallow. “Pull yourself together, Kimi, it’s not the end of the world. You’ve survived your baby dying — having a bad day at work doesn’t even move the needle.”
To be truthful, just after Penelope Joy died, I used to get upset when I’d hear people complaining about their kids. Because what I wouldn’t have given to be them — to be home with a snotty-nosed sick baby, to be fighting with my fit-throwing 2-year-old, to be cleaning up piles of dirty laundry after soccer practice, to be sitting at home watching the same episode of “Paw Patrol” for the umpteenth time instead of out drinking a glass of wine with my friends.
But now I get it. That whole range of loving your kids but wanting to drop them off at Grandpa and Grandma’s house for an hour — or two — is part of what being a parent is. Parenting is hard. Man, is it hard. And it’s so rewarding. I’ve honestly never been a better person … or a stronger person … or a fuller person … than I have been since becoming a mom.
And, yes, being called “Mama” is the biggest blessing I’ve ever been given. But dang it if I haven’t cried in the shower — more times than I’d like to admit — because of how exhausted and stressed and inadequate I am.
I wouldn’t have it any other way, but, golly, does it feel good to be able to talk about it.