I’m trying to write this morning, because I have important follow-up work to do charting your booger rules and stuff, but Greg’s home and he keeps making breathing sounds and clickity clackity click clack typing sounds and allergy season sounds, and, unbeknownst to Greg, it’s all been very distracting. Now it’s after noon and he’s in the kitchen making toast buttering sounds like scritch scritch scritch and cupboard closing sounds and foot walking sounds and sandwich eating sounds and, well, you see how far I’ve come on the booger charts.
Living with family is hard, mostly because family is made up of people and people are cobbled together from wishes and dreams and noisy things and silent spaces and hard bits and broken pieces and beauty and dirt and pain. It’s all a terrible mess.
Sometimes I think it’s the most stunning thing in the world that I’m tasked with the care of others when I can barely manage myself. I mean, here I am, inside my body, and I know what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling and all about my own needs. You know, in theory. And yet I find myself still somehow needy. And then there are more people around me. More people with more needs which are not my own, many of which require sussing and masterful sleuthing and decoding and then, eventually, commitment and resources and selfless engagement to properly meet them.
Some days I feel empowered. I can do this. I will do this. And I will rock it hard, baby.
Other days? Oomph.
I was walking out of a room last night after a long, good day at a kid event and my purse strap caught on the door. Just like that, arms overflowing with stuff, trying to get the car to get to the home to get to my bed to get to some sleep — trying to put one foot in front of the other and make rest happen by sheer force of will –I was caught. Pulled back. Stuck fast. And I had to walk backwards for a while because that was the way toward freedom.
Not Evan wrote me last night. Do you remember our friend, Not Evan? From On Accidentally Having 5 Kids and an Open Call for Joy? He’s the guy who, along with his partner, is adopting five foster kids, and he wrote:
I worry that I sometimes feel like we’re running a breakfast-eating, getting-dressed, do-your-homework factory rather than a family. And I don’t want to let the worry consume me to the point where I can’t see the joy.
We wrote back and said, “word, man” and offered up pieces of joy and honesty and camaraderie like gifts.
Well, folks, good news! Five kiddos have been cleared for adoption from our foster care system, and Not Evan and partner are just paperwork away from becoming a family in the official, on-the-dotted-line sense.
Yes, of course, right.
And, since we’re honest here, can we all just hyperventilate a little?? Let’s call it togetherness.
Five kids, you guys, and only two parents. All of whom come with bottomless needs. Which is panic-worthy, just the same as any number of kids and any number of parents. Because, you know, all of us are made from the stuff of humans. Which, to repeat, is a terrible mess. A beautiful, terrible, horrible, glorious mess.
Yes, of course, right.
Not Evan writes:
Now, I understand how fortunate we are for this journey and hope that you understand we feel truly lucky. However, with the ‘real’-ness of it all sinking in, we are finding ourselves nervous.
Simply put, after ten months of parenting five kids, We. Are. Exhausted. I feel like the optimism I had and the calm that came when I was parenting (even in the difficult moments) are gone… and that the periodic weekend away, sleeping in, and routines that we fall back on are not enough to ‘refill my tank.’
I worry that I’m not prepared for the long haul. I worry that my exhaustion and frustration are just the tip of a very large iceberg. In the really bad moments, I worry that we shouldn’t go through with it. And then I look at the kids, their smiling faces and (mostly) good attitudes in the face of all they’ve been through and I think, “how could we not give them a forever place?!”
So I am exposed and hoping no one judges too harshly but maybe you can tell me how you got through a difficult time like this one?
“I worry that I’m not prepared for the long haul. I worry that my exhaustion and frustration are just the tip of a very large iceberg.” You know what? Me, too, Not Evan. Me, too. In my darkest hours, even still, me, too.
Of course, I have a lot of answers to your question. Answers of how I get through the difficult times. Answers like coffee. And Jesus (who — free advice, Jesus — should market that whole “rest for the weary” thing better). And friends. And medication. And exercise. And time.
But that’s the funny thing about answers. My answers may not be your answers, and I think there’s much to be said for community, which I like to call Come, Unity, like we’re all beckoning unity closer by participating in it.
So, friends, I’m lobbing Not Evan’s question your way, knowing we’ve all wandered in this exhausted space of the unknown.
When uncertainty whispers in your ear, when hard and good times take up equal space in your home, what do you do? How do you get through times like this one?