Living in Imperfection

Well hello there. Per usual I have fallen off the writing wagon. To say our family life has been a little chaotic would be an understatement.

Since my last post about the passing of my mother-in-law, our little family has had to navigate the waters of grief and change. Most of the time with lots of tears and sometimes yelling and maybe some ugly snot running down our faces.

It has been hard. I feel like I have been called to stretch so much as a person, and if I am honest, I feel like I am drowning in the waters. It has been hard to take on the role of supporter, and mother, and continue to be a professional worker.

Most days I feel like I am failing.

Most days I feel alone.

It’s hard.

Two weeks ago I had the chance to go to Catalina Island with my family and parents, aunt and uncle and cousin. As we were planning the trip and up until actually leaving, I was dreading it. Dreading spending time with people. Dreading having to figure out how to care for my son (who to be honest hadn’t been sleeping well, and was hitting, and spitting and going through all sorts of toddler emotions). But I went.

On the second afternoon I stole away while my son was napping to a wine bar to sit and read and listen to the the waves. I sat there reflecting and thinking about where the hell has my little corner of happiness gone? As I started to look around me, and to be honest, as I loaded my Instagram feed, I realized something.

I am unhappy right now because I am looking for perfection.

I am sitting here and comparing my life to what I am seeing online or some BS image of what I expect my life to look like – a perfect made-for-TV functioning family life.

I am looking at former classmates, and friends, and mom bloggers, posting photos of their well manicured families and their babies that sleep through the night, reading about “tips and tricks” to work out when you only have 30 minutes.

It hit me that I am not looking at my life and all the wonderful things in it, I am comparing it to some ideal I formed in my head. This idea that no one else has to deal with their kid not sleeping for over a month, or the fact that their kid has been sick with a weird cough/sinus thing for 4 months, that these moms don’t have to schlep to work and pretend to be happy everyday when they are really calculating how much quality time they will have with their family once they factor in cooking, cleaning, bed time prep, following day prep before collapsing into bed to sleep for 2 hours before their kid wakes up screaming in the night.

I’ve been letting the pursuit of a promoted social idea take the place of what is right in front of me, my family.

So the next day, as Jacob and I watched E play in the sand and the little waves, I tried to let go a little bit. I didn’t lose it when E sat down in the wet sand and started playing. I let him sit there and wet his clothes, not wearing a swim diaper, and just play, because in the end, is he going to remember this moment as the joy her derived from playing in the sand, or for me yelling at him for not listening and getting wet?

This life is not about the polished and posed Instagram photo, its about the photo of your kid eating dirt, while you accidentally burn the chicken as you run to catch Costco size oil from spilling on the floor.

And don’t get me wrong, don’t think in the two weeks since this trip I have woken up everyday thinking “golly, life sure is swell.” I’m still struggling to find my happy, but I figure if I can just continue to be honest with myself, each day will get a little clearer and a little bit more real for me.

 

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Loss & Grief

When my husband and I got married, almost 4 years ago, we sat down with the priest who was to marry us and had a serious conversation about what marriage means to each of us and why we were getting married. Something that the Father asked us always stuck with me. Father asked: “Will you do everything you can for this marriage? If a spouse cheats, will you abandon the marriage or will you try and fix it? If one of you does something to the other, how will you make it work?”

These questions in ways have been spinning through my mind in the last two weeks as I watched helplessly as my husband struggled/struggles with a grief so deep and powerful I can’t help ease it.

Two weeks ago my husband lost his mom. My mother-in-law had been suffering from a heart condition for the last ten years. She had several surgeries to prolong her life and give her more time. Because of these life giving surgeries, she was able to be at our wedding and be there for the birth of her first grandchild. Tuesday, March 14th, God called her home.

It was sudden, unexpected, and heart-wrenching. My husband was asked to make decisions that no child expects, or wants to make. I have seen the weight of a lifetime come crashing down on his shoulders. I have seen a grief so deep, raw, and hard.

I have struggled to be the wife my husband needs me to be and the one God calls me to be. I have not been the best version of myself at all times. Grief does weird things to people. It makes you say and do things you normally wouldn’t. It puts a blinder on your heart and won’t let you out.

This consuming grief is only made worse when it is unexpected. When the life that is extinguished had so much more to see and the ones left weren’t ready for good bye. Each of us has regrets in these moments and the regrets can eat us up.

However, through this pain I have held on to what Father asked us, “What will you do for your marriage?” If my husband is crumbling, I need to be strong. If my husband is in pain, I need to show him compassion and grace. This pain he feels, I feel it to. I feel it when my son asks for his Oma, when we go to her house and he wanders the halls wondering where she is. I feel it when I am alone and think about the questions I didn’t get to ask my mother-in-law. The million and one things I wanted to know about her.

It is through the Grace of God that we are weathering this storm as a couple and a family. It is through the Grace of God that our employers have been understanding of the time we need. It is through the Grace of God that we have friends that are here for us – texting, calling, sending food. These small acts have been the difference between drowning and surviving and thriving.

While my heart aches at our loss, I know that our spirits will soar and heal with time. If I truly believe in a God, then I know one day we will be united. And until that time, I will hold my baby a little tighter and tell my friends and family how much I love them, because we all owe it to each other to say it as often as we can. Love is the only thing that matters in the end. How much we loved, how hard we loved, how often we shared our love. Love. That’s all there is.

When We Don’t Have Words

Sometimes we no longer have the language to express the pain and suffering on our hearts.

It seems like a paradox to be writing when my title hints that I don’t have the language to say what I want, but this isn’t about having words, this is about having the “right” words.

Last Tuesday, as I was leaving work I got a call from my husband. The call dropped a few times and I assumed he butt dialed me, because he never calls when I am at work. I picked up my work phone and called him. He asked me if I had heard about my uncle. I immediately went into a panic, picking up the phone, making calls, mind racing. The long and short of it was my uncle had passed, and while I could sit here and pen type all the details, that is not what I am here to say.

What I am here to say is I no longer know what to do with my words.

My heart is broken. A little of me feels shattered.

To have this happen so unexpected.

But the thing that gets me is this, this isn’t even fully my pain. As I sit here and cry, all I can think of is my aunt and my cousin. My dear, dear older cousin. My sister. My best friend. My heart breaks.

I don’t know what to say. I don’t know how to act. How can you be there for someone when they don’t really want to be reminded of what their reality is. I get it. I totally get it. What is my sorrow to hers?

I thought of what Anne tells Marilla at the end of Anne of Green Gables, when Matthew has passed, “It’s our sorrow. Yours and Mine.”

I feel like there is a sorrow so outside of myself that I can’t put words to.

No one can really put words to it. And it seems even hard to be there for someone when they don’t have the words to share their grief with you either.

I know many may say that it’s about being there, listening, presence, and yes, it is that too. But sometimes, we also need to be able to say “Here I am. See me. I hurt too. Your sorrow, its mine too. Because I love you, I cry for you, my heart breaks for you.”

My heart, it has been filled with a lot of sorrow, so much so that I don’t even want to burden my friends with it. How do you call someone and say, “Hey, it’s me. Someone else I loved died today and I just feel a little lonely, scared, hurt, and scarred.”?

It’s hard.

It’s hard to allow yourself to feel sad when you think your grief is a pinprick to someone else’s.

So this is me sitting here saying, I don’t have the words anymore, just the grief. And for now, that will have to be okay. Because I am going to be honest, these wounds of loss. They are deep and every time it feels like my heart is healing, the scab and the loss happen over again.

The only thing that sometimes keeps me together is the hope knowledge that God has something greater for us, and that these bodies are the shells for our gorgeous souls. That is my only comfort right now, because this has been a rough year for loss.