The Day I “Quit”

I quit. 

I was standing in my kitchen, scrubbing dishes that had been sitting in the sink all day. It was a Sunday. It was gray outside. The wind had been battering against the side of the house for four days, and we hadn’t seen the sun for longer than that. I was exhausted. We were all exhausted. 

Pink eye. Teething. Picky eaters. Kids who won’t stay in bed. A house that kept getting messy. Appraisals and deadlines and closing dates on the new mortgage. Dogs who steal entire loaves of bread off of the counter during the night. 8 doctors appointments in one month. Shots for all of the kiddos. A frail dad who broke a hip and had surgery within a week’s time. 

But it wasn’t about all of that. 

The day I quit

I felt so lost. I felt unappreciated. So dejected. I have been submerged in the world of children for six years. When do I get to come up for air? I don’t know who I am anymore sometimes….

….Besides the chef. And the chauffeur. And the launderer. And the maid. And the person who everyone comes to with their problems even if she is on the toilet or asleep and hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since 2009.

So, I quit. 

Naturally.

Simple as that. I threw a dish towel down on the counter and slammed the lids to pots and pans in the sink, not caring if it was too loud or would wake someone up. I.did.not.care. I felt kinda free for a moment when thinking about just walking out the back door and shutting it behind me. Then what?

Then I cried. And I felt like I was the lowest of the low. 

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I don’t know what my plans for my days post mother/wifehood were. Go back to work? Go back to school? Go back to bed? Go to Dunkin Donuts? Go to the Caribbean? Do I NEED a plan? Can I pretend I wouldn’t miss all of them by day four? Okay, so maybe day five eight.

I wish that I could tell you that something seemingly small and insignificant happened and that suddenly my outlook was changed. A kid gave me a hand drawn card they made me. The husband showed up with flowers and wine. I found $20 bucks and chocolate in my pocket…or a gold brick in my bed.

None of that happened. 

But I decided to give this stay-at-home-parenting-and-wife thing another go. 

Because I have quit before. 

I’d venture a guess that a loss of their sense of identity is a humongous problem that moms face. Where did I go? And when did this 30-year-old woman in sweat pants with bags under her eyes, thoroughly drained by life show up and decide to inhabit my body?  

When did everyone decide that the best things I can accomplish in life involve Crayola crayons and washing socks and running to the pharmacy??? Who decided this for me, anyway?? How does anybody do all of this?

I tell myself that I need to cut myself some slack and instead of shame, adorn myself with grace. I’m simply trying to do the best I can.

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But then you have weeks on top of weeks where it feels like the best of you isn’t cutting it. It isn’t good enough for anyone else. It isn’t even good enough for you. And then you figure, hey, what’s the point? Can I really say that I am making any difference in anyones life??

I don’t really know much about anything. It might sort of sound like I do on random occasions because I get lucky and things come out in a complete sentence. But the truth is that I really, really don’t.

I talk like I know a thing or two about grace and about how it goes hand in hand with parenting and that it heals us when we are broken and utterly spent. 

But the furthest thing I felt when sitting on the sofa once I had cleaned the kitchen was grace. It wasn’t pretty, people.

Then I realized something. 

What I do know about grace is that when I’m in the deepest realms of discouragement and disillusionment and I feel like an utter failure and I ugly cry over stuff being stuck to a baking sheet…when I am looking at myself in the mirror and I don’t know who it is that I see anymore…grace is not in that dark place.  

Grace is not being mired down in our failures. But grace IS there When we are. 
But it’s not in The staying there. Because grace lifts you out. 

Grace is sometimes the voice that says it’s okay if you don’t measure up, because even on the days that you think you do, you really don’t anyway, you just might not notice.

Grace is this really real thing that you can fall into when you can’t stand on your own. It’s there for when you ugly cry. It’s there when you rejoice. It makes the jubilation sweeter and the difficulties easier to bear. 

God says that HIS grace is sufficient, not ours. And that is really the end of the conversation. It’s pretty much as uncomplicated as it gets.

Going back to my chaotic life, no, the dishes didn’t wash themselves. The house is no cleaner than it was. No, things don’t suddenly get easier, things just fall into perspective. 

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So yea, I quit. I was about to print out my resignation and give it to the baby, though she would probably just chew on it, but who cares, it would not have been my problem.

But then I heard, quietly, that it’s okay. From some place that I know wasn’t about me.

And in that moment that was good enough for me, even if I didn’t understand it. Now it’s a new day, and the sun has finally shone its face (get it?!?) after almost a week and I’m okay with the idea of Mondays.

Still, I wouldn’t mind finding $20 in my pocket…or a gold brick for that matter.

I guess I’ll settle for coffee instead.

She Blogs

I follow “The Girl Who Blogs” and read her posts whenever I can. Her words are thoughtful and refreshing and a great way for me to take my mind off of the routine stuff of everyday. She posted a questionnaire that a blogging buddy of her’s, suzie81’s Blog, has asked WordPress bloggers to answer. And so I figured why not. If you feel up to it, do the same and then link back up to Suzie’s post!!

 

1. Why have you chosen your blog name?

WELL, my blog name has actually changed a few times. This used to make me feel bad but I have since found out that other blogs that I enjoy reading have also changed their blog names on occasion, which makes me feel better about my indecisiveness. *Phew!*

My blog started exclusively as “Ashley’s Devotions,” namely because I couldn’t come up with something better when I started. The idea behind that name was that I would be writing about the things that I felt the most devoted to in my daily life. Namely motherhood, being a wife, staying at home, friendships and so on. It then transitioned into “A Thoughtful Housewife” as my role as a stay at home wife and mother began to evolve. I wanted to show that there was more beneath the obvious surface in child rearing. Now its name is, “This Heart”, and if you feel so inclined you can read on my about page why I chose this title. Basically, I write about the contents of my heart. What inspires it, uplifts it, ails it and fills it. Which is pretty much a bit of everything.

2. When you have an hour of free-time, what do you do?

I always pretend that I’m going to do something EPIC when I have spare time because on a normal day since such a miracle hardly ever happens. I think that a lot of moms do this. Am I right, ladies?? I always think that I’m going to read a great book, give myself an at-home pedicure, write a thoughtful blog post or put new shingles on the roof of our home or something. In truth, I end up on the couch, watching reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, doing the laundry or dishes, or something else equally less grand.

In my dreams, I would instead do productive things that provide an outlet for me or that bless my family immensely. I’m always tickled when I make the time to blog, or when I can find some great time in the Word, or even just in silence. That’s always worthwhile.

3. If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what would it be?

I’m not sure. Physically a I would take my body at 20, because DUH. Mentally, spiritually and emotionally I like where I am now more than any other point in my life. But I’m sure that will change. When it comes to my children, however, if I could on occasion freeze them so that they wouldn’t grow anymore then I’d be tickled.

4. If you could learn to do something, what would it be?

Right now, I’d choose photography. So that I can translate what and who I see into a photo in the way that *I* see it/them.

5. What would be the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery?

If I were ever fortunate enough to win the lottery I’m pretty sure that we would tithe to our church body first. It may sound boring, but honestly, furnishing our church’s needs, or the needs of a missionary to enable them to continue reaching out to others would be extraordinary. After that, and if we were able, I am sure that Rob and I would want to buy the financial “freedom” of ourselves, and our closest family and friends.

6. What is the thing that makes you absolutely unique?

I will spare you all from anything too in-depth.

What makes me unique is that God made me unique. I’m figuring that out and committing it to memory more and more as time goes on. I am unique, but it has nothing to do with what I have done to make myself that way. I’m an empty, flawed jar of clay. But I am blessed with gifts and traits that make me unique. Much like I am blessed with flaws and weaknesses that make me unique.

Also, I make perfectly moist cookies and other baked goods. Like, oooey-gooey in the middle brownies. It’s a gift and a curse.

7. What is your favorite blog?

This answer may change from time to time. I have friends who blog and I love reading what’s on their heart and being inspired by them. I also love Ann Voskamp’s, “A Holy Experience.”

There you have it. Tidbits of information that you really never needed to know. All in good fun. Thanks for reading!

5 Blog Posts That You Should Read

I’m going for something a bit different today in my “5 Things” edition. 

I believe in the power of blogging.

It might not sound like anything special when anybody can sign up for a domain name, start a blog and spout off about whatever their heart’s desire is. But oh, the joy when I find a blog that speaks to me. Everything is at your fingertips when you live in the age of technology – and it’s even better when what your keystrokes find is encouraging, insightful, honest and actually worth reading.

There have, thankfully, been a handful of times when my world was changed, ever so slightly, by the words that someone shared on their blog. And often times, the posts that really strike me are those where the author is emotionally transparent, when they are open about their mistakes and their insecurities, when they remove the rose-colored glasses and allow us to see life in all of its glory – and its pitfalls.

We become enamored when we are doused with the cold hard truth because it has become a fleeting occurrence in this day and age to be forthright, instead of being commonplace.

I am hoping that most of you will find these posts as encouraging as I have.

1. The Pinterest Perfect Real Mom

Everything blares at us from every page and every screen and tells us that we need to do better. It dictates that we need to have it all together, that we have to have all of our ducks in a row. And true, there is something to be celebrated when moms, or anybody for that matter, get it right – some moms are better at some things than others. But what we should celebrate are the small victories. The mom who cleans up the small, but plentiful messes. The mom who keeps her cool through it all, even when it’s just too hard. Motherhood is more than the milestones, sometimes it’s enduring the everyday. This post celebrates that.

2. Grace on a Thursday: Blind Spots

A dear friend sent this to me during my first few months at home. After giving up work out of the home, I was finally able to see what had been overlooked during my years of balancing work and motherhood. Namely, the neglect of the menial, practical tasks that had been going on in my home. And the realization of just what it takes to try to keep a home afloat (and from burning down) was a doozy. But this post gave me such perspective on the matter, and helped me realize what is ultimately the most important. Though this is something that I sometimes struggle with daily, and I am quite certain that the same goes for other stay at home moms, this post was so, so refreshing and encouraging to me.

3. Nope, not ever

A post by a dear, sweet, wonderful friend and one of my favorite-favorites. Definitely check out the rest of her blog. But this incredible post came not too long after she established her corner of the internet. Heartfelt and sincere – a call for moms to embrace their bodies – every scar and every seam. And Sarah’s bravery is evident in the fact that she posted a picture of her post-pregnancy body. If only we could all be that brave.

4. Why Mother’s Day is for the Birds & {A Letter to Kate} 7 Ways to Labor & Deliver Your Best Life

This one is a tie. I would feel like I was cheating you if I made these two posts two separate entries on to this list. Every person needs a favorite author (or two) by default and Ann Voskamp is quickly becoming mine. There is pretty much no post of her’s that I can’t happily read and garner something insightful from. And there is so, so much to chew on in her writings. Her words are encouraging, they are honest and they are thought-provoking. Definitely check out the rest of her site.

You don’t get to make up most of your story. You get to make peace with it.”

-Ann Voskamp

5. For ME? 

Amanda is awesome. I really could just stop right there, but I suppose that I should keep with the format of this post and write-up a smidge about another one of my favorite-favorites. Amanda is really, really awesome. And her blog chronicles her family’s journey with their beautiful son Theodore, born to them with a few chronic health conditions. Amanda and her family have been on quite a journey these past few years and thankfully, I get to both read her blog and know her personally. And she is just as, if not more so, great in real life as she seems on her blog. And she also has the best sense of humor. She can go from insightful to hilarious in an instant. Definitely worth a read!

I don’t have much to add. You, my friend, need to get to reading. Happy hump day!