Life really isn’t going the way I thought it would. The truth is that not much has worked out the way that I planned. Our reality doesn’t really resemble what I envisioned at all…in fact, it’s nothing like I foresaw.
This just isn’t how I thought it would go…
That can be so very hard. It can feel so damn unfair. But you know what you guys? It doesn’t HAVE TO feel unfair. And it doesn’t actually have to be hard, either.
I’ve been finding that the toddler-like “no fair!” thoughts only show up when I fight against reality. The feeling of being dealt a crappy hand I’d rather not have only plagues me when I grapple to plan for the life I THOUGHT I’d have, rather than the one I actually have.
Trying to fit a square peg in to a round hole is what causes the pain.
Currently, I am a stay-at-home momma. My days and the majority of my goals revolve around trying to balance the varied needs of our 3 children. Daily routines need to be maintained for everyone’s well-being (and for my own sanity!), the house needs tidying constantly, my medical needs can be EXHAUSTING…oh, and let’s not forget the 4 fur-babies! Let’s just walk through a typical day here in this momma’s world, just for funsies: make sure everyone has their bags packed for their respective days, help them eat, get dressed, teeth brushed and out the door semi-on-time. The laundry needs to be kept up with in what feels like a never-ending battle, the grocery list needs updating…whoa, hold on–I really wanted to workout right now, but the dogs need water first…ugh, then the cats need their litter box cleaned…ok, done. Yikes, I only have to leave in 25 mins to pick Evy up…no time for that workout now. Take the dogs out, drive to pick Evy up, make it home in time to meet Cody as he arrives from walking home. Spend the next hour trying to get a substantial amount of food in the neurodiverse angel who only eats 7 items total on the planet and refuses to sit at the table, whilst also trying to keep the dogs away from the food as he carries it from room to room against my wishes…oh, but don’t forget Cody needs some attention too! How was his morning? Note to self: remind Cody to do his daily chore of putting the dishes away before he heads back for the afternoon….ok, make sure you kiss Cody goodbye and wish him a great afternoon, don’t want him to feel unseen amidst the chaos of feeding Evy with this speical needs! Whew, made it to the afternoon. Man, I’m drained already and this day is really just getting rolling! I really want to sit down and rest…but first I have to clean up from lunch time and get supper prepped…crap, what should I make today? Did I even update that grocery list? God cooking all the time sucks!! I’ll just put those 2 loads of laundry away, and then I’ll shower…no wait, I’ll workout and THEN shower. Yea, that makes the most sense. <body hurts too much to keep powering through>…guess I’ll lay down with a heating pad for a bit and then try to get back at it. <body still hurting>…but I know a workout will help with my energy and I gotta do it…time to get at it. Do I have time to shower before I need to get the kids? Ugh, nope. I guess I’ll do that after they go to bed tonight. <picks kiddos up> And the mealtime battle of chasing Evy around begging him to eat, and stay in ONE SPOT to do so ensues yet again. Hold on though, Lydia is being picky today and only wants freezies for supper…and Cody doesn’t want to get off of “Fortnight” to eat at all…LORD!!!! Remember to feed the animals, oh and myself somehow…not much gluten & dairy free options left at this point…man we need more groceries again. Remind the kids to put their dishes in the dishwasher, count the minutes until Scott is off of dayshift, maybe listen to a podcast to keep my sanity while I clean up from supper? Nope, can’t hear a damn thing on this podcast, the dogs have too much energy & need a walk, but Cody is arguing about taking them because he “has to do everything around here” (which apparently is the end of the world), Evy & Lydia are being super loud….my head is starting to feel like it’s going to explode!! Geez, can’t a girl get 2 minutes of quiet around here EVER?!!!
Oh yes my friends, and that’s not even the entire day! Bedtime is a whole other special brand of torture…with an opinionated threenager who decides whether or not she’s going to cooperate (%90 of the time, she does NOT) and sticks to her plan like glue, a neurodiverse 5 year old whose circadian rhythms are so touch-and-go that it’s a nighlty question of whether he will even go to sleep at all before midnight or if his unique brain will allow him to fall asleep…only to decide to start his day at 3 AM! Oh, and a 9 year old who has nightly anxiety about going back to school in the morning.
This isn’t how I thought it would go…
I have 2 University degrees. I was professionally trained as both a classical singer, and a teacher. The plan was to be home part time, but teaching part time as well, and performing for the pure pleasure of it whenever I felt drawn to do so. It’s a pretty balanced plan, right? Still home enough to be fully involved with my babies as they grew up, working enough to feel fulfilled in my wider purpose & was financially contributing to our household, and of course exercising my passion for music. What a beautiful vision…
This is NOT how I thought it would go…
You guys, I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that NONE of those well-laid plans have worked out. I’m not elegantly balancing a professional career with parenting while also expressing my love of singing; most of the time I’m scrambling just to keep up with my kids & the demands of daily life. I’m not financially contributing to the house so that it doesn’t solely fall on the husband, and so that I’m not perpetuating that “traditional” role of the woman as being mainly a homemaker; I’m home, doing the exact role that women have fought for decades upon decades to find autonomy from. My body doesn’t feel like that of a typical 35-year old woman in her prime; most of the time I’m still struggling, sometimes stuck in bed, or working hard to keep a feeling-good streak going. And just when I thought I could take steps towards fitting back in to the life we pictured with substitute-teaching part time…COVID’s 2nd wave came crashing in to remind people like me, who are in greater danger if we do come in to contact with the virus, that now is not the time to venture back in to the world just yet.
But you know what? It’s all actually OK. MOreover, it’s all quite beautiful, in it’s own way.
No, I’m not being sarcastic here, I totally mean this. There is nothing inherently “wrong” or “bad” about my life looking almost completely the opposite of what I planned. And you know why that is? Because human beings are this amazing species that have the ability to ADAPT. We have the gift to be able to approach life in a fluid manner, rather than a rigid one. We can choose to PIVOT (Side note: if the image of Ross on “Friends” trying to coerce Rachel & Joey in to making his new boxy couch fit up his apartment complex staircase doesn’t immediately spring to your mind there…then we may not be friends in this life 😉 ) and keep going.
It’s when we choose to fight against the changing nature of our lives and of the world that we run in to the real adversity. The pain comes not from our actual circumstances, but from our refusal to pivot; our stubborn or short-sighted choice to stay stuck in the painful position we are in because it’s HOW WE THOUGHT THINGS WERE GOING TO BE.
I finally see that I have this superpower; to simply stop trying to be a square peg in a round hole. We ALL have this superpower.
For instance, I can fight against the body I have; forcing it to ache & get sicker simply to fit in to societal standards of a teaching career…or I can entertain other ways to flex my teaching muscle, maybe online at home.
I can stew in wishing that I could contribute more financially; or I can be creative in finding new ways to save us money as a household in general, while being grateful that I have a hard-working partner in this life who doesn’t ever complain about doing overtime shifts. (thank you by the way Hunnie, you’re an amazing human!!)
I can push my body to keep up all day every day, or I can view my needing a nap as a super power that turbo charges my energy levels for days to come!
I can view my body’s reactions to gluten, dairy, and processed foods as “bummers” or “restrictions”; or I can bless my body with the foods that give it extra lives just like the 1-ups in “Super Mario Brothers”.
I can view needing to lay down with a heating pad on my aching body multiples times a day as unfair for only being 35; or, I can use that downtime as a gift, to do things like write this blog again for the first time in years.
I can mentally battle with needing a daily medication for my anxiety & PTSD; or I can change my lens to view it as an ally on my journey, which immediately feels more harmonious and less anxiety-provoking.
I can sink deeper in to darkness every time my vertigo rears it’s ugly head; or I can steel myself, get back up, and PIVOT. Read another book, try a new supplement regimen, try a different hormone pill. Do those changes come with a whole new set of challenges? Absofrigginlutely they do! But would I rather stay stuck? Hell no. Being helplessly restrained on the rollercoaster of vertigo was my only option not long ago you guys: if this was 7 years ago when I was finally diagnosed after suffering for 16 years prior to that already, then there would be no “new” options to try because practically nothing was known about this hideous, silent, “Vestibular Migraine” disease. So, yes, I can choose to succumb to the deep sadness & nearly debilitating anxiety I feel when it flares up; or I can be grateful that medicine has come as far as it has in only 7 years, and buckle up to move forward in this journey.
That’s MY CHOICE to make. It is so much more empowering to view it that way you guys. And it’s widely paralleled by the choice we ALL have to make in this world right now. I hate to bring up the dreaded “C” word y’all…but I’m gonna do it anyways. We can all choose to view our individual circumstances as we go through this COVID-19 pandemic trying to claw our way BACK to NORMAL….or we can adopt the superpower that only humans possess to decide to be FLUID. And we can realize that although life doesn’t look like the “normal” we were used to, or that we expect by societal standards, we can absolutely build a beautiful NEW NORMAL as we adapt and move through this life.
We can pivot, and build something exquisite in it’s on right.
“This just isn’t how we thought it would go”… can actually become “this is so much better than we could have foreseen”