The American Dream says I need to:
Be a loving wife who lets her husband enjoy his hobbies, encourages him even when you’d rather murder him for his illogical decisions, and offer sex several times a week.
Be a good mom who spends time with your kid. Don’t feed that kid trans fats. Play imaginative games. Read – a lot. Teach them new skills. Limit screen time. Discipline. Pinterest yourself into guilt and failure.
Take care of your home. (My floor needs to be swept and mopped daily – and we are only awake in that home six hours a day on weeknights. Key phrase: needs to be does not = actually happens. And you don’t even want to see the main bath toilet right now.) Keep washing clothes. Juggle the never-ending list of things to keep your home in order, which includes: freeze tomatoes, defrost the deep freeze, schedule an oil change (and don’t forget to go do it), pick up grass seed and dirt to patch the yard, go tree shopping, and do the monthly budget – which should have happened two weekends ago.
Don’t forget to have friends. Have great conversations. Even though you’re all stressed, exhausted, and just want to be sleeping instead of spending time together. But we know you’d be home pulling weeds or dealing with a screaming child if you weren’t together, so have another glass of wine.
Oh, and love Jesus. Read your Bible, do a daily devotional, pray, and be the best little Christian you can be. Radiate God’s love. Give – your money would be great, but mostly your time and energy. Which you have none of. Absolutely none.
It’s the American dream, y’all. All men are created equal.
But pull yourself by your own boot straps. Work hard to achieve success. And live in a 4 bedroom house with 2.5 children.
The thing is…J and I do work hard (and PTL we don’t have 2.5 children; one lil O is plenty for me right now). We worked to the point of exhaustion last week – first during the day at work, and second, doing upkeep on the home at night and taking care of lil O (hard work, y’all. You can see how I felt over this recent cracker package “dump”). While we’re both putting in 40-hour weeks, we’ve usually got additional responsibilities with our family and community. But what’s even more wild: we’ve said “no” a lot this month. No, we can’t help with a church project. No, we can’t visit family for a weekend away. So you’d think I’m sitting pretty, right? I wish…
Even with fewer responsibilities, I haven’t stopped to ask for help. I’ve reached the point where I don’t even know how to ask for help because I’m so damn overwhelmed and I can’t think clearly. And everyone around me – both friends and colleagues – feel the same. How am I supposed to ask when others are drowning too?
This feeling leads to me hunkering down and putting it in “go mode.” There’s too much to handle so I’ve chosen to be emotionless the past few weeks. I’ve simply shut out all feelings of frustration, loneliness, and even joy. I felt nothing. I thought it was the only way to handle the extra stress of this season of life. I just had to keep pushing through the to-do list. Because it had to get done. Right? I mean, what’s really the worst that could happen if I didn’t get it done? …Nothing, really. But I was on a mission. No time to consider the consequences. Just work your tail and get it done. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.
But then, a moment occurred where things started to cut loose. Suddenly, it wasn’t all synching. It was likely watching 4th grade me try to hit a thrown baseball with a bat in slow motion. While I attempt to be, I’m not at all athletic. I’ve been less than blessed in this area, and by less than, I mean: bad. I’m straight up terrible at physical ability and coordination. So you can see where this is going…
I made a poor decision.
It impacted a few people negatively. Nothing earth-shattering terrible happened because of it, but I felt total shame. I didn’t fully consider the punch to others. I didn’t choose to feel the consequences. I didn’t ask for help. All my emotions boiled up and my composure couldn’t contain it any longer.
So I cried. I mean, “shut the door and just about wail” cried. I lost it because there is so much on my plate. I feel out of control. And I, like most, don’t handle “out of control” very well.
I know it’s important to give yourself permission to take a break. I read it on other blogs and hear it from other women all the time: take care of you first. I know why it’s important. I want to be better about it. But sometimes I just miss the mark. Sometimes I prioritize things over people, and everything over myself.
So God woke me up with a screw up. He reminded me I was doing life apart from Him. And once I realized He was trying to get my attention (which took 6 DAYS, y’all. This blow up happened 6 DAYS ago), my tightened shoulders suddenly let go of tension. I took a deep breath. I gave myself permission to sit down and close my eyes for a moment of peace. God’s not all that into living life drained. He’s more into living it joyfully – and together.
The thing is, I don’t feel any better about that huge to-do list today. And I definitely am not hitting the mark on “best friend,” “#1 mom,” or “wife of the year.” But at least I feel something today. Being cold to the world doesn’t help me have a better day or grow in relationship with anyone – including Jesus.
I remembered the American Dream isn’t so dreamy all the time. Because frankly: it’s exhausting. And God called me to be His before I call myself Uncle Sam’s.