Sunday, April 19, 2015

A "When/Then" Life

Sometimes when I'm struggling with what to write or how to put a certain idea into coherent sentences (read: all the time), I plead with God to give me the words. I will literally walk around doing my daily life with some form of this running commentary in my head. When I make lunch for the kids, "Please, God. Just tell me what to write." When I fold laundry, "Seriously, just do it. Please. Please. Please." When I give the dog a bath, "I know asked for the words last time, but just one more time. Please." When I finally sit down to write, "FOR THE LOVE OF YOU, PLEASE JUST OPEN THE TOP OF MY HEAD AND POUR THE WORDS INTO MY BRAIN. THANKS." Sometimes I even shut up long enough to hear the reply. Most times though, because I'm complaining and begging so loudly, I have to be shown the answer. And usually I have to be shown the answer in a big way, because again: complaining, begging, blah blah blah. You get it.

I set out this week wanting to convey the irritation I was feeling with the idea that people have to put their lives on hold when they become parents. And not just other people having this idea, but me having this idea. Me allowing parenthood to strangle the life out of ambitious and lofty dreaming.  I'm a notorious "When (fill in the blank) happens, I can finally (fill in the blank)" person.  "When the kids are older, I'll..." or "When the baby starts sleeping through the night, I can..." (HA!) and "When they're all in school, I'll do..." I do it all the time, for things big and small. If you look at the dates of my second and third blog posts you'll notice an almost two year lapse. I started a blog and it literally only took me two posts to decide that it was too hard to keep up with while also being a parent to little kids. "When the kids are older and more self sufficient then I'll write more." Turns out even when they get a little bit older they still have "needs." Who knew?

So, I was going to write this killer post about living life now, and pursing dreams, and Carpe Diem-ing the crap out of your life even if you have little kids because kids should, nay NEED, to see their parents live big and dream bigger. The details of life only hold you back if you let them! It was going to be full of metaphorical fist pumps and high fives and so many inspirational quotes you'd be sure you were twelve and reading Chicken Soup for the Soul again. 

I was ready. I was ready to write that post. I had begged some words out of God and I was sure I was ready to write it. I tried a few different times during the week, but kept getting interrupted by sibling fights and kids who woke up too soon from their naps right when I thought I was about to get it all out. "Haha. Oh, Life. You smug little ironist, you." I thought (rather smug myself, obviously. I was about to show Life!) I wasn't too perturbed, I knew I had Saturday night. Dan would be out of the house, the kids would be in bed, and I would gorge on ice cream while merrily tapping away my super awesome post. 

Cut to tonight. I won't bore you with the details, but obviously my night didn't go as smoothly as I planned. Actually, I take that back. I will bore you with the details (this is my blog and I'll bore you if I want). The 3 year old screamed a lot. In bed, out of bed, it didn't matter where. She did it. The 6 year old repeatedly asked if I was going to follow through with my "no cartoons tomorrow if you get out of bed again I SWEAR" threat I made to her sister.  The baby woke up multiple times. I obviously handled it all like an adult by grumbling and then yelling and throwing the biggest and loudest pity party the world had ever seen. Helloooooo. Didn't anybody realize I was getting ready to write about not letting life's "details" hold you back? I'd really appreciate if you would just detail your butt back in bed and sleep so I could go about blessing the world with my wisdom. No? RUDE.

Here's where I missed the point (one of many, I'm sure). I was blinded by two extremes. Either I put everything on hold to raise babies OR I did it all perfectly with great enthusiasm and endless energy.  I did the first one and all I got out of it was literally years worth of time lost that I could have spent getting better at something I really, really wanted to do. And obviously the second one is impossible because: kids. No further explanation necessary. I couldn't fathom that the messy, imperfect, sometimes exhausting middle ground would be the sweet spot.

Everybody has their stuff. The thing that makes them say, "When (fill in the blank) happens, then I can finally (fill in the blank)."  Sometimes that's actually true. Sometimes we literally can't do one thing until another has run its course. But other times there's a beautiful, untidy sweet spot in the overlap. One that allows for all sorts of life to be dug into now.


  1. Oh Emily, I've been looking at your blog because I'm starting one and am totally overwhelmed with the process, especially this pressure of keeping new posts coming in the midst of doing life. Thanks for sharing so openly your heart. Your writing is beautiful and transparent. You encourage me.. Thank-you.

  2. Thank you for your kinds words, Sue! I so appreciate it. I have your blog--it's beautiful! I look forward to reading more. :)