Bored.

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I have two days to go. Only two. A governing body of professionals in our school district have decided that 14 whole days is required to celebrate Christmas. Actually, I don’t know who makes that call.  Someone who is mad at me, I presume.

Boredom hovers over our home. I wonder how it was possible to birth the thirstiest, and boredest, children on the planet. Maybe the two go hand in hand, the boreder they get, the thirstier they get. The fog is thick, making imaginative play, creative thinking or reading of any kind impossible.  I conclude that my children can no longer see the words on the page through the boredom.  The only thing left to do is sit as close to me as possible, and stare. Even the dog. She is bored. And staring.

My arsenal is bare. I have suggested all I know to keep us busy, thriving and going these past two weeks. Even TV is old news. Nothing left to do but sit, and stare, and hold on. The boredom creates a shaky, anxious feeling inside me. We can all feel it.

I remember reading an article somewhere that talked about boredom being good for kids. That it actually makes them smarter. I decide I love that article. That even though they are staring at me, and sighing loudly, they are actually turning into little geniuses. This thought moves me safely back to the illusion that I have it all together. Lying to myself about this gives me something to do.

Finding something to do. That, I know, is actually what is making me feel shaky. It’s me. Not the kids. I am bored. I feel uncomfortable in silence. Unsafe when stationary. So we go, and do, and push so I can pass the hours until bedtime. As if time wasn’t moving fast enough, I partner with it to move the day along quicker. My eight year old’s face is changing. The early years are falling off, he just looks..older. His life has flown by. Back to panic. Back to shaky. Moms know time is flying, and yet, it isn’t moving at all. I don’t understand this dance, and why it makes me feel like I can’t miss a second of their young lives. Even though I need to. Even though I have to.

There is a post-it note tucked away in my journal. “Courtney, you don’t have to be ever-present.” It was written after another tearful conversation with a friend. A male friend. Casually, he said “I think moms get present and ever-present mixed up. Being a present mother doesn’t mean being an ever-present mother.” The words dropped in my heart like an anchor. I go back to the post-it frequently, a written permission slip to myself to walk away and let boredom set in. Not only for my kids, but for myself, because THIS IS IT. I DON’T HAVE TO BE EVER-PRESENT.

This opportunity to be the mother of three young boys needs to be exactly what motherhood was that day. Each day different, but routinely familiar to the day before.  Each day asking for do-overs and high-fives. Each day feeling joy and sadness. Anticipation and boredom. Each day walking away from ever-present parenting, to ever-present awarness of what I need emotionally and physically, so I CAN BE a present parent. What WE need. Each day being what it is, nothing more or less.

I smile thinking of all the days I have had with the boys, and of the ones coming. They catalog themselves in my memory. The memories steady the shaky energy. I know that they are okay, and that I am okay, and that I am actually a really good mom. Even though I am bored today. Even though motherhood seems like busy work. So it will be. So it is. But I still have no idea what to do with the dog.

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About Done.

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‘I’m about done.’

‘I’m sorry. Can you get time away? Time to refocus?’

‘Yeah, it’s more than that though. This (beep) is way too hard for me right now.’

‘I have zero help.’

The abruptness of the text message made me pause. About done. Someone that I love so much, buckling under the pressure of day to day with a household of small, very small people. A dear friend, loosing the hope in her marriage. Another mom feeling marooned on an island. No help.

I understood the words she had sent on a level that was acutely familiar.

I wanted to send encouragement, to find words that would giver her hope or wisdom or whatever it is that we need when we find ourselves about done.

All I had was ‘I understand.’

Because I understood that about done was a hard, difficult place.

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Hey Friends,

I haven’t written anything in six weeks. Largely because my life started to teeter along the about done line, so I stepped back and called a time-out. Many, many moving factors contributed to the overload of life, all of those needing to be separated, looked at and re-prioritized.

The only way I have found to preserve my sanity during the day-to-day grind is to find humor in the chaos. Occasionally that humor and chaos is the subject of my facebook statuses or blog posts, these statuses and posts suggesting that raising three small children can be difficult. Very difficult.

I have found that people who love me, who care for me, gently remind me to be thankful for these crazy days with my beautiful boys. To be thankful for my life.

They gently remind me that this time is fleeting.

I get it.

What I don’t understand though is our need to remind people we love or know to be thankful when they are brave enough to admit they are getting the wind knocked out of them by life. 

How does admitting something is hard suggest  that someone is unappreciative of their life? Can they (we) not feel both, thankful and tested?

I have tried to change my perspective with thankfulness. Tried starting each morning with praise for my children.

It didn’t work. They were still tough.

Being thankful didn’t take the tough out of my life.

Jude Crying

This is the thing-there is no room in my heart to love my children more than I do. It is a maxed out, full, fierce, protective, emotional, enduring love that will never be questioned or replaced. I am also overflowing with thankfulness for their health, their life, their personalities, THEIR EXISTENCE.  My nightly conversation with Jesus always starts with a thankful heart for my family. Man I love them.

But that thankfulness has not replaced the reality that raising them is HARD. Some days it physically hurts. Having two toddlers (three boys) has infiltrated my mind, my checkbook, my marriage, my body, my belongings-everything. It has changed everything. Some days they move me to the about done camp.

And yet, I still go to bed thankful for them.

This is what I have learned :: It is completely possible to feel IT ALL. To feel overwhelming joy and love alongside frustration and mayhem. To love someone and still want to kill them. In motherhood I have felt things I didn’t know existed; frustration and hopelessness in dark levels, happiness and thankfulness that overflows.

It has all been there.

And unlike the moments that I am constantly reminded are fleeting, all of the feelings I have are not. They always return – day in and day out- each day experiencing my life differently.

The past four years have been very difficult. And I am very thankful.

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This is what is left-this is how we love people who are standing on soapboxes declaring their life is difficult ::

WE LISTEN. We respond with I UNDERSTAND. If we don’t understand we dig down and look for empathy inside of us and say I DON’T UNDERSTAND BUT I AM HERE. We hold our declarations of their need for thankfulness until we understand their difficult. They know what to be thankful for. Some days the difficult is stronger, when we help with the difficult thankfulness peeps through brighter.

When your friend is declaring the tough of life help her pull the tough apart.

When your friend is mourning a deep loss, mourn with her. When she is thankful for the time spent with her loved one, be thankful with her.

When your friend is struggling as a parent pour out empathy. When he/she rejoices and delights in their children, rejoice with them.

When your friend is struggling at work, listen first.

When your friend is in the middle of an identity crisis, sift through it with her. Listen first and then help, help her find the way back to herself.

When your friend is giving up on marriage-validate how hard marriage is. Listen closely to the ache in his/her words because marriage is tough. After listening-then help. Help in a way that your friend needs.

Before interuppting someone’s difficult with a list of ‘should be thankful for’-interupt it with kindness and understanding and lead them back to the things they already know they are thankful for. It’s dark in the difficult. Be the light.

Time and time again, the people who have listened and helped me with my tough have lead me back to the road of thankfulness. Lead me back to myself. Lead me back to my family. Lead me back to Jesus. Without suggesting a single thing.

And as I said before, I am thankful. And I am learning.

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There is a scripture in James that I have a love-hate relationship with that leans in on the idea of thankfulness and joy being present in difficult times.

~Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.~ James 1:2-4

This has always been a nudging reminder that life is gonna be hard. This is actually promised a few times in the good book. In the difficult it is possible to also feel joy, and thankfulness. Cause we are letting our endurance grow, right?

So here’s to our endurance friends, may it grow and grow, and in the end,

may we be in need of nothing. AMEN.

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Hooking up with #tellhisstory over at http://www.jenniferdukeslee.com!

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