Last night, as I was preparing dinner, my 15-year-old daughter walked up to me and asked, “Mom, what is wrong with you? Don’t say “nothing”, just tell me what’s wrong.”
I had to stop and take a deep breath, feeling bad that I was so irritable that my daughter was doing an emotional check-in on me. I told her she was right, I was feeling angry.
“I haven’t been sleeping well this week. I just can’t shut my mind off, like always, but this week has been especially bad. The air conditioner won’t be fixed until the part on back-order gets here. It’s 81 degrees in here and I’m over it. (Cooking dinner in a hot house, while fatigued is not a good equation for happiness. I wouldn’t advise anyone try it.) I also have agreed to more meetings than is reasonable over the next few days and I am already dreading most of them.”
She tilted her head as though she felt bad for me and said, “I knew something was up with you when I told you that my shirt made me hot today at school and you told me to just shut up.”
Nothing quite makes me feel more like a loser mom than when my kid articulates a very valid point to highlight why her mother is acting a fool.
“I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have said that to you. I am really sorry” I said to her, to which she replied, “It’s ok,” then returned to the couch with a bag of chips and her phone, seemingly satisfied with how the conversation ended.
I stood in the kitchen alone, fanning myself with the utility bill while finishing our meal. I was feeling bad about feeling bad.
Dr. Henry Cloud, a psychologist who writes some of my favorite self-help books, once said, “Keep this question in your pocket and pull it out often: “Why am I doing this?”
Why did I leave my paycheck producing career 2 years ago to become a volunteer moderator/teacher/nurse/slave/cook/maid to the hormonal little monsters who I created and grew inside me approximately 14 and 15 years ago? This change was one that my husband dreamed of for years before I finally had the nerve to pull the trigger on it. It was discussed endlessly for months and prayed about so many times before I finally had peace enough to make the leap. It was a well thought through decision, yet now, I’m sweaty, in a hot house, mad at the world today forgetting why.
I am a person of faith and for that reason my ongoing quest to find meaning is centered around my beliefs that God has created me uniquely and with a specific purpose. I’ve read books about this. I’ve also taken spiritual gift assessments, which revealed that I’m gifted in hospitality and the opposite of gifted in administration. So basically I excel in partying and suck with anything that requires the filling out or filing of any piece of paper. Still, at times my purpose in life gets out of focus and a little foggy.
There may be days when I’m not clear on what my purpose is, but I know when I’m not living it by the discomfort that it brings.
“Whenever you say yes to something, there is less of you for something else. Make sure your yes is worth the less.” Lysa TerKeurst
My purpose during this current season of life is to encourage, model, instruct and provide a full life for my kids so that when they graduate from high school in only 4 short years and move out for college (did I really just say those words?) they will be ready. I want to be the safe place for them to ask hard questions and get honest answers. I want to be available to them as they have to navigate the very confusing teenage waters. My purpose is to do my best to make sure they have strong faith and character when it’s time for them to spread their wings. THAT is my purpose. That’s my why. Everything else is just noise.
As I’m hot gluing cotton balls on a t-shirt for a sheep costume that I’m making my daughter for her cotillion initiation, I’m living my purpose. I’m showing her she’s important and I care about the little things she cares about.
When I sit in my car for what seems like forever on a Saturday morning waiting for my son to finish his guitar lesson, I’m living my purpose. It’s important to him. It’s important to me.
When I run them all over town to be at various youth functions, it’s again my purpose. Growing them into adults I can be proud of.
When I can’t sleep from the disappointments and frustrations of life, when I worry about things out of my control and when I commit to volunteer roles, even worthy ones, that rob too much precious time from my family then I’ve lost focus and am doing something wrong. When saying yes to everything thus effectively saying no to doing most of it with a joyful heart causes discomfort to my purpose then I’ve allowed what is expected of me to trump what God wants for me.
When I tell my girl to shut up over a shirt she’s wearing I am not living my purpose. Something is out of order.
And it’s uncomfortable.
So I logged into my email and declined a couple meeting invites. I set up a few lunches with my friends. The ones who recharge my soul while we refill our cups. A blandness in life becomes more pronounced when I go too long without having the balance they bring. I even said no to a couple people who I had originally planned to say yes to, but my yes was going to be out of pure obligation.
I prayed that the air conditioner part will get here quick before I lose my sh@t with this August heat inside my house.
And I made some brownies for my daughter as a gesture of peace for the jerk I was yesterday.
No grit, no pearl!