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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.