“Why do you think she works so much?” I asked. Part of me thought I already knew the answer. Because her family loves to play. Or she likes to shop. Or they are fantastic savers. Or they are trying to pay off some debt.
Any of those answers would do. I could check off the familiar and move on to our next topic.
My friend thought for a moment. “I think it’s easier than being home with the kids all the time. When you’re good at what you do—when there is affirmation at work and incentive to keep doing what you’re good at—it becomes easier to work than it does to parent. Parenting is hard. Home is hard.”
Three days later my friend’s response replays itself over in my head.
I hear it as I sit on the couch and stare at my wall and wonder why work suddenly stopped coming in.
I hear it as I sit in the doctor’s office and receive the diagnosis of what I already know: My daughter faked a broken arm for the entire weekend because lying is her default setting and I haven’t figured out how to reprogram her ability to feel safe and dependent.
I hear it as I pull up my teen’s progress report and see this isn’t progress at all. That he will finish the semester needing to repeat a class or two.
I hear it as I sit by the bathtub, too tired to run it because home is hard—parenting is hard—and when I sit still too long I hear this small voice tell me that I’m failing.
I just want to tell that small voice to shut up.
I haven’t had this little to do since the summer of 2009—the summer before I started back to school to finish undergrad. I’ve been cooking dinner every night. My laundry is caught up. My floors are mopped. I recovered dining rooms chairs. And let me tell you what: It’s messing with me.
Who am I if I’m not productive? What am I good at if there isn’t any contracted work right now? When the calendar is more white than it is black, have I become bland—am I grayscale? Does anyone need me who will actually appreciate what I do because let me tell you what, I am spilling my guts over here for these kids and all that’s happening is me feeling gutless. Just give me some work so that I can complete the task and receive a monetary payment that says I’m good enough.
Someone tell me I’m good enough.
Isn’t this a shared craving? To know that we are spending our lives in ways that count.
I finally found the energy to run my bath tonight. While it ran, I put away laundry and listened through the baby monitor as my husband put the girls to sleep. My youngest—who is disproportionately obstinate for her size—kept getting out of bed—mainly because my oldest was whispering, inviting her to do so. I just listened in dismay and was reminded of that book on Amazon that I bashed a few months ago called “Go the F**k to Sleep.” As I remembered it, I started giggling. As I giggled, I felt so much better. Then I realized why the authors wrote it and I swore never to bash it again.
Then I wondered if it was sacrilegious for someone who loves to teach scripture to equally love a book called “Go the F**k to Sleep.” And in that one thought, something shifted inside me.
I realized what I love to do. I love, love, love teaching Scripture. But over the last few years this has only showed up on my calendar a few times–maybe a Sunday morning and the random conference or two. So I said a prayer in that moment, “God, what I really love to do is teach your Word. It’s what I want to do. And I’m pretty good at it. I’m not as funny as Jen Hatmaker, or as poetic as Ann Voskamp. I’ll never have big hair like Beth Moore or be able to kick my shoes off and look as cute as Margaret Feinberg. But if you’ll just give me a people to teach it to, then I’ll do it. Will you fill my calendar with that? I can talk it or type it, I’d just love to do it.”
His response was immediate. Sure. Start at home. Start with a woman or two around you.
It was such a simple, honest prayer. I wonder why I haven’t tried that in other areas of my life.
Lord, I want to give this lying girl some true grace today. Will you do that through me?
I’d like to not wallop my son over the head about his grades, but show him a better study habit or two. Can you open communication between us?
I need some quiet time, alone, with kids asleep. Can you help with that or should I head to Amazon?
Lord, will you keep me slow so that I can do this hard thing in my home—this thing that offers very few immediate rewards outside the spontaneous hug and kiss.
On the days where I want to run away from home, will you help me open my arms wide and embrace the chaos?
I get it. I get that when I work, I feel so capable, so strong, and so alive. I get that sense of failure that comes with parenting. I get it, but I refuse to accept it. Instead, I’m just going to pray that strength and ability and life right into my home. Because we are far from failures. We are women. And those boogers are alive because of us.