Our in-town move has been difficult in a million and one different ways.
For starters, we had an unusual heat wave the week we switched houses, creating days of 100* temps, which would have been fine except the "new" house (it's 100 years old) had no working air conditioner.
We felt like we were suffocating.
"No problem," I told John our first full day in the house. "We can get AC units in a jiffy."
But we don't do
in a jiffy.
We have six kids and John works
so a "jiffy" for us takes a lot longer than normal people.
Consequently, we faced many days of dealing with ungodly high temps. But that wasn't all...
Before we moved in, some pipes burst in the walls which required plumbers to be present in my "new" and unpacked house to repair the damage.
The fix-it men, jovial types with large bellies
even larger personalities, kept us abreast of the leaky pipe situation by announcing, "Oh, look! Here's another busted one!" every time they unearthed another pipe problem.
It took those guys five working days to patch up all the pipes.
Around day three, I lost my sense of humor and couldn't be bothered to find it.
These men were in my house, occupying the space I desperately needed to organize so that we could function. Yes, they were fixing something that needed attention but still...
And I don't know what happened, but in the short time between the previous tenants moving out and our moving in, stink bugs invaded the house and then graciously died, leaving their skeletal remains everywhere.
Move in day will be forever marked in my memory with sounds of crunching bug guts underneath the movers feet.
(Christopher was all kinds of happy when I handed him a Dust Buster and told him to get busy.)
We like to keep it nice and classy around here. Furniture on the porch? No problem!
The furniture coordinates perfectly with the myriad of outdoor toys and bikes and
important childhood belongings.
Of course, my kids were completely oblivious to all the stress and commotion John and I were absorbing.
Despite the situational bedlam, the children wanted to snack every two hours and snuggle in their most favorite footy pajamas, and spend hours with their treasured toys.
The problem was, I didn't know where the food or the pj's or the toys were!
(Side note: It's amazing to me the way kids demand their needs be met even though chaos is happening around them. John and I felt like we were barely treading water and that our heads would quite possibly slip under the surface never to come up for air again, but the kids didn't seem to notice.
They just wanted to know when they could have some chocolate milk and where Cupcake the Bear was packed away. It took them 48 hours to understand that Netflix wasn't going to magically appear.)
I kept trying to tell myself that all the things I was frustrated by were First World problems--non-working Internet, busted pipes, missing toys, and no AC?
Our Great-Grandmothers had it waaaaay worse.
I kept thinking about all the ways the move would have gone easier if I were a more patient person, a more organized person, a better wife and a better mother. Instead of accepting the difficult nature of the situation as it was, I accused myself of kinds of awful: ingratitude, lack of holiness, and not being good enough.
In her post
, Jennifer Fulwiler writes in the same vein about how she felt before she realized she was dealing with some severe medical complications during a pregnancy:
I was aware of my abysmal state, and knew what the problem was: I’m lazy. And kind of a whiner. Not to mention not being fully dedicated to my vocation, and unwilling to carry my (small) crosses. Christ asks a few simple things of me, and even gives me this lavish, first-world life surrounded by luxuries, and I let a little pregnancy fatigue keep me from getting the job done! If only I were more open to God’s grace, I’d be able to unload the dishwasher without feeling like it was such a big deal.
These are the thoughts that were going through my head for the better part of a month.
My recent move was colored with the exact same kind of thinking.
Fulwiler goes on to explain the different challenges we modern moms face--especially the isolation mothers often feel in daily life--and how our inability to recognize these challenges actually makes gratitude more difficult.
The whole idea of "Fake it until you make it" just doesn't work. It's important to acknowledge a difficult situation
you can be grateful for it.
"...when we refuse to accept real suffering as legitimate, it actually makes it harder to be grateful. We spend so much mental energy fighting the wrong battles and beating ourselves up over phantom failings that we don’t have much energy left to take stock of all the wonderful things in our lives. Living in a false reality is exhausting and demoralizing. It’s much easier to be happy, peaceful, and close to God when we acknowledge the truth, even if that involves acknowledging that some things are hard. "
Like Jennifer herself admits, I
be lazy and selfish and whiny. However, I wasn't struggling with the move and everything that went with it (financially, interpersonaly, etc) just because I was (and am) a lazy whiner.
This move kicked my butt.
It was hard on my marriage---in a big way.
It was hard on the kids because I was so out of sorts and cranky.
It was hard on me as a person--my entire life was turned upside down and inside out.
And instead of being gracious with myself, I accused myself for my many inadequacies and weaknesses.
I missed the opportunity to embrace the difficult nature of the situation because I was convinced if I wasn't so flawed, my life would be easier.
And that's a lie.
There are certain situations in life that are hard, even for the holiest of people, and forcing gratitude without acknowledging when life is tough doesn't work.
The fact is, John and I are in a less than ideal situation right now and we will probably be there for some time.
And maybe if I start being honest about that fact, I might be able to see past the bad and into some good.
I hope, anyway.
Current condition of my dining room.