Tag Archives: women

I almost died while giving birth

The doctor walked into my dark room and woke both Jim and I up only after an hour of us falling asleep.

“Kristin, you were suffering from HELLP syndrome. We’re lucky your husband will be taking you home too and not just your new baby.”

I didn’t know it, but apparently, I almost died while giving birth.

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Pregnancy felt awful. I was sick all day, every day for at least 8 of the 9 months. I ate little more than fruit and vegetables. Meat was terrible. Sauces: no thank you. And anything greasy? Ugh! I finally got some relief in month 7 and had a craving for real food: BBQ ribs. So Jim took me out to a local restaurant and we chowed down. There were appetizers, several entrees, and dessert, y’all. It was ridiculous and wonderful all at the same time.

I was finally living the “I finally feel good again!” again for a few weeks.

And then my feet started to retain water. And my stomach aches came back. My feet and hands started developing a red, dry, itchy rash. I wondered where in the world I would have picked up athlete’s foot and how it could have moved to my hands. I used an obnoxious amount of lubriderm to try to stop the irritation, to little avail. I was back in the hell of pregnancy. I was feeling unsure of my ability to give birth with what little energy I had. I was dreading waking up each day. I was feeling hopeless.

The stomach pain started to hit an intense level on a Saturday, and I struggled to sleep through the night. I reached out to the on-call doctor and he suggested I was likely suffering from the flu, and to keep my Tuesday afternoon appointment with my regular doctor. I felt really discouraged and not confident he was right. But it was the same-old pain I had been suffering throughout my entire pregnancy, so why get all worked up?

I stayed home from work on Monday because I simply hadn’t slept or eaten due to the stomach pain. That night, my feet reached a heightened level of itching. I actually got out of bed and put together an ice pack that would lay on my propped-up feet to make my toes go numb so I wouldn’t feel anything. By Tuesday morning, I told that doctor’s office they had better get me in ASAP, and when I walked in for a 1:30pm appointment, I was on the brink of tears from little food, extreme pain, and exhaustion. They took my blood pressure (a common action of every prenatal visit), and it was extremely high. My blood pressure had never registered as a concern to them in the past, and suddenly I was their number one priority. I was taken for an ultrasound to check on baby’s health, and they determined baby was ok but I was not. I completely lost my composure (from the hunger, hurt, and the unknown) and sobbed, while Dr. L came in and informed me to run home to grab a sandwich and meet her at the hospital in an hour. I was being induced.

As Jim and I met up at home, we realized: we were going to go have a baby. This is actually happening. And something’s not right. He reassured me the best he could, and we ventured to the hospital to meet life’s next journey: parenting.

I was offered an epidural, but was basically told because of my situation, it would be a good idea because they didn’t know how this labor was going to play out – and they knew I was already in a lot of pain, wanted to alleviate it, and prepare me for a long night. I was so incredibly miserable that I agreed to anything providing relief. They also began pumping magnesium into my body, in an effort to avoid seizures. A short while later, around 9pm, I was feeling a break and actually closed my eyes to sleep. It was the first time I’d really rested fairly comfortably in four days, as a result of feeling numb. Every hour, I remember being awakened by my nurse to check the dilation of my cervix. And every time I woke, I shook uncontrollably for several minutes, hence the need for the magnesium. It was scary, annoying, and frankly: I just wanted to be left the hell alone. We finally hit pushing levels at 5:00am.

And did I push. In every position. With every little ounce of strength I possessed. For three and a half hours. There were a lot of nurses in the room, and I wondered if that was normal, or if they were anticipating issues and needed “all hands on deck.” Mostly, I was just trying to not pass out. Or vomit again. The one time was enough.

The nurses gave those encouraging little cries every time I pushed: “Oh, you’re doing so good! Yes, keep coming!” But I knew when they weren’t good pushes. And it’s not like you’re not trying to give a good push. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. But Jim knows those encouraging little quips don’t help me, and he was dying to say, “You’re sucking! You need to do a better one! Step it up, girl!” But he was in a room full of medical professionals. He feared the repercussions of police questioning him and asking me, “Do you feel safe?” or “Blink twice if you need help.” And he feared the judgement of all those female nurses watching a husband be a total dick to this laboring wife. But I’m a tell-it-like-it-is kind of person. And negative criticism swings me into action faster than a polite comment on how I can improve something.

That baby FINALLY came out at 8:30am, and I just wanted to be left the hell alone. new-babe-owenI was so incredibly thrashed by the whole experience, and to be honest, struggling cognitively to take in my surroundings. I held Owen for a few minutes and then the nurses started to do their typical checks before taking him to the nursery. The medical staff recommended Jim and I get some sleep, and they’d holler at us in time to order lunch from the cafeteria.

At 11:00am, a male doctor (my doc went back to the office to see her patients) walked into my dark room and woke both Jim and I up only after an hour of us falling asleep. He proceeded to explain the complications I was having: low blood platelets not causing the blood to clot, my liver shutting down, and a red blood cell breakdown. Apparently my itchy extremities were a sign of my liver shutting down. And the magnesium was pushed to prevent seizures of preeclampsia. So every time a nurse woke me up, my body would shake for a short time – a lesser version of the seizure. If I had waited any longer, the outcome may not have turned out so well.

“Kristin, you were suffering from HELLP syndrome. We’re lucky your husband will be taking you home too and not just your new baby.”

I later learned I pushed for 3.5 hours because my doctor feared doing a c-section. She didn’t know if my blood would clot, which was necessary to survive surgery. She figured I’d have a better chance of survival with a vaginal birth. Jim told me later he’d notice Dr. L deeply thinking, perhaps about how to get Owen out. He didn’t realize she was weighing the options of how to keep both Owen and me alive. A friend later told me she believes God worked through Dr. L to make the best decisions to keep both his babies (Owen and me) on this earth a bit longer.

HELLP syndrome is a serious form of preeclampsia. It was only first named in 1982, and women are dying of it in 2016. Globally, mothers die at a rate of 25% once diagnosed. I know people who have friends who have died of this in the United States – in the past two years. I’m 25% likely to have this syndrome again if I become pregnant. I’ll be considered high risk. So I don’t know if we’ll ever have another baby. Because I’m scared of the 9-month nausea, the intense sickness and exhaustion, and the chance that I won’t live to see my babies grow up. I’m afraid of dying again while giving birth.

I hope parts of this story resonate with other mothers, and more importantly, I hope others know that if something feels wrong, speak up. Doctors are humans too, and we all make mistakes. Make the doctor’s office take you as a same-day appointment. Make them check twice. Don’t be embarrassed. You know yourself best. So always trust your gut. Especially your pregnancy gut.

Would You Wanna Hang With You?

That was the question I posed to myself last fall as I again went on a rampage against my husband – but not in real life (…this time…). Only alone in my own thoughts.

I contradict nearly everything my husband suggests.

“I’m going to go hunting on Saturday.”

“We really need you to mow the yard, finish the deck, and sand that picnic table.”

 

“I think we should get those retaining blocks another day.”

“What other day? We’re not home together again all week.”

 

“Will you pick up something for dinner and we can eat quick and have a quiet night at home?’

“Well, we planned for pork chops and we could really use the leftovers.”’

 

Ugh. I am so annoying!! And I realized it on an “off” day.

I struggled to focus on any task at hand. I spilled food at dinner. I was basically acting like a normal human, which is not my strong suit, considering I’m a perfectionist. I looked at Jim and said, “I know what it feels like to not have things go well – and have what seems like everything fight against you. I know what it feels like to be you. And I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for you to be you when I’m being critical.”

The man about. fell. over. He just looked at me with those big, defeated eyes and gave a breathy, exasperated, “Yea!”  

This revelation led to a single, simple thought: would you wanna hang out with you?

My simple answer: no.

I’m mean, critical, judgy, and definitely not a grace-giver. I’m everything Satan loves some days. And while we all know Satan is super fun to hang with (e.g., the dancing and drinking I did in college – which aren’t always sinful, but in my case…probably were a bit), we also know that Satan only provides a short term high, which ends in feeling totally lonely, isolated, and empty. And it got me thinking about when I’m more pleasant: when the devil’s on my shoulder, or God is guiding my thoughts and actions?

This seems like a no-brainer answer: when God is #1 in your life, right? But I honestly don’t know that I’m super fun in that mode. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve got a lot great qualities that come out when I’m focused on a demeanor that is God-honoring. I’m actually pretty authentic, a decent listener, and quick to serve. But when the devil’s on my shoulder, I’m more likely to take risks, speak before thinking, and let my cockiness overpower my confidence. Maybe those aren’t great qualities, but haven’t you noticed people who get attention have those qualities? It starts as young as grade school, with students who act out getting the most teacher time. We’re drawn to sensational reality TV shows, and we are living in an era of a narcissistic president. Everything in our world screams to us: be louder and bolder than everyone else. And get rewarded.

As reflected on that, I thought: being a follower of Christ is BORING! No wonder so many don’t spend their time with Him. But then I reflected on those times I feel lonely, isolated, and empty as a result of shrugging off God and choosing the Devil. And I realized I feel more fulfilled, at peace, and calmer when I’m in strong relationship with Christ.

It’s tough to be counter-culture. It’s tough to not want to feel the high of hanging with the devil. It’s tough to stop being critical and love on people like Jesus does for me over and over again every day. Luckily, my two-year-old is my consistent reminder of this love Jesus offers. And yet it is amazing how quickly I can go from adoring love for this beautiful, constantly-in-awe human…to complete exhaustion and on-the-brink-angry-meltdown (that my husband and I call tapping out – “He’s yours. I’m tapping out”).

But today I was reminded that long-term, consistent joy is so much better than exciting, short-term happiness. People flock to that attitude, and can see Jesus living in you (which, is kind of the goal, Christians). And…no one likes a crabby, critical curmudgeon. So today I choose joy. And I’ll need to be reminded of this month after month for likely the rest of my life. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to a point where more often I’ll be less critical to those I love the most, and want to hang out with me than not. And maybe others will feel the same too.

If that fails, I’ll just buy wine. Friends always show up when there’s free wine, right?  🙂

The Devil Wears Dirty Laundry

I take vacation days to hermit. I choose to not talk to anyone. I watch at least two hours of YouTube videos. I verify all camera and phone photos have been backed up to Google Drive. I sit on my comfy deck furniture and drink chai, or wine, or both. And I do chores: wash windows, dust, iron. But this time, I struggled on my vacation day because I thought I’d choose to be selfless by choosing people. I chose relational time. I chose to “Mary” instead of “Martha.”

And these relational appointments didn’t align. First, I went to Owen’s daycare to help with a project at 10am. Drive home. Then, I went on a lunch date with my husband. But we argued most of the way to the restaurant. Drive home. Go to see the chiropractor because I tweaked my back loading concrete blocks (that’s a whole ‘nother blog post, y’all). I took three separate trips in and around town at three very different times, which I hate. I was feeling really frustrated and exhausted by all this, so much so that I came home from lunch and went straight to bed. Naptime on my day off. That’ll improve my mood.

But my phone rang 15 minutes in. Deal with it, go back to sleep. 15 minutes later, another call. Seriously?! Deal with it, go back to sleep. No joke – 15 minutes later, that sucker is buzzing again. You have got to be kidding me?! No one ever calls me!! I know you’re thinking: just put your phone on silent. But all my mamas hear me when I say, I don’t love doing that when my kid is at daycare because I want to be available should something happen.

I just want to be alone and do my chores! I don’t want to be relational! So I went to do a load of laundry.

But God took advantage of my day off to remind me of his presence – or rather, the Devil’s presence.

devil-laundry

I went to pull the clothes out of the washing machine and began hanging them up to dry. One of Jim’s sweatshirts came out with sleeves inside-out. And I was automatically furious. I think, “Why can’t he take 5 seconds to pull his sleeves out? Doesn’t he know it will save me time doing the laundry? I wash his dirty underwear! Can’t he be considerate?!”

As I’m starting to dig deeper into this angry pit, something stops me from falling in. I remembered the grace God gives me is something I know he wants me to extend to my husband.

Uh…left field thought? Yeah, I call that a “GDB”: God-Dropped Bomb. You know, a thought that just comes to your mind and the only way you can explain it as God’s presence and way to get your attention. I firmly believe God speaks to me via thought.

Jim doesn’t have any vices (wait…does hunting count?). He’s a good dad and husband. He just puts his laundry in the clothes basket with the sleeves inside-out. So I told myself to shut up. The devil is always after your positive thoughts. Let God’s Spirit be stronger.

I took some deep breaths (literally; it was intense, y’all) as I gave myself an invisible pat on the back for coming back to the land of sanity. I’m choosing to rise above. I’m choosing to extend grace in my relationship with my husband. I’m choosing to be Mary-like.

Then, I found tiny shredded up pieces of paper. You know, like when a kleenex goes through the wash? What the…? “Why can’t that man just clean out his pockets? First the inside-out sleeves, and now this?! What am I, his maid?!”

My rage grew as I continued to find piece after piece on every article of now clean clothing. And I started looking for a large piece. You know, the kind that would incriminate and prove he was the guilty party of this piece of paper. But they were all so damn tiny!

Then I remembered: I’ve done this before. Not the rage…well, yes, the rage. But I mean…leaving a paper in a pocket, which means I could do it again. This could be my piece of paper. And I’m preparing to go all crazy town on a potentially innocent man.

It’s the Martha in me. So I gathered what very little dignity I had left of myself in that laundry room and chose to move on. And I sat on the deck with a cup of chai.

In sum, what did I learn on my vacation day?

Being relational while trying to be selfless sucks. Especially when you really suck at being relational and make it difficult for all involved parties. And if you’re going to whine about being selfless (like through a blog), then you’re not really being selfless.

Being relational – period – is hard for this Martha, so I think I need to only do it in small doses. If I try to plan relational time during a vacation day or break I’m looking forward to, I need to either let stuff go, or plan less of the relational time.

The devil loves dirt. The dirtier the better! And I think dirty laundry is causing me to connect with the devil. I should probably stop doing it. Except for the fact that I don’t trust Jim to do it (hmm…I may be my own worst enemy and not the devil…). He mostly does it right, but there is always one clothing item that never gets hung correctly and dries with a nightmare crease – usually at a bottom hem. (I’m clearly in a very dark Martha-like place after this vacation day gone awry.)

Which means the devil and I will continue to have a laundry date every couple days. He’s gonna want to take advantage of my Martha-ness. Well, bring on your dirty laundry, devil. Because while I’m obviously not a strong relational Mary, I’ll keep working toward that end. And Mary has chosen what is better (Luke 10:38-42).

3 Ways to Live Less High-Strung

I’m a sucker for click bait. So when I saw the article, “7 ways to make life simpler,” I knew I was a goner. The timing is especially fitting considering the overly busy last two weeks I’ve had.

There has been too much on my plate and the to-do list is truly not getting any better. I mean, the work to-do list is going fine because I am at work eight hours every day. But the home/personal list? I can usually knock off a few things every week, but J and I are in such a hole of daily survival that nothing else is getting done. So I’ve nearly entered “Throw your hands up and screw it. Screw it all!” mode. But I’m a Martha, chained to the never-ending to-do list, so you know that’s only a realistic reaction for exactly 4 hours at which point reality sinks back in and the person God created me to be HAS to get back to finding supplies for the school auction project.

So of course I suckered for the article about making life simpler. Here’s what I learned:

I’ve already eliminated a crap ton of stuff by choosing to not feel guilty over saying “no.” Easier said than done, right? But I’ve hit such an extreme wall of overcommitment, that it’s been fairly easily to respond: “Thanks for thinking of me, but I can’t add this to my plate right now,” to several recent requests. And I’m eliminating a couple more responsibilities in the next two months.

My house is freakin’ clean. We have little clutter. It’s the downside and bonus of being a Martha. And OCD (not really, but close).

“Schedule one distraction-free time block every day.”

Alright, touche, blogger. I am so not doing this right now. I try to start yoga by 8:30 or 9:00pm, otherwise it probably won’t happen. I get up 2 hours before our family has to leave for the day, but apparently I should get up earlier. (Which won’t happen. I need at least 7 hours of sleep a night. 8 is ideal. I read somewhere that the most successful people in the world get a good night’s sleep. I need mine and a shower so I feel like a human again.)

“Accept. Appreciate. Be grateful.”

I know people who are like this. I am not necessarily bad at this, but I definitely am not good at this. I’m a whiner. And I’m judgy. Saying you don’t judge others is like saying you don’t sin. We’re human. We do it. It’s just about curbing the amount of it you do. And obviously, I need to have a judgment check-in. Daily. Well…maybe at every meal. That’s a bit more…honest.

 

So if I’m implementing half of these strategies, how do I really make life simpler? How do I relax?

Rather than living simpler, here are my tips to living life less high-strung:

  1. Wine.

Alright, I know, that’s not a very productive answer.

Or is it?

At any rate, it’s always the first thing that comes to mind. Ok, I’ll be less naughty…let’s start over…

Number 1: Breathe deeply.

When I am feeling like too much is coming at me, taking a few deep breaths does help a lot. It not only helps get oxygen to my brain, but it also provides me a few seconds of perspective to recognize I’m alive – and this project is not so terrible. Fresh oxygen to the brain always helps. Am I right?

Number 2: Dance and be silly.

Nothing gives me perspective better than my two-year-old diving into a home dance party with me. We work out our wiggles, throw in some giggles, and I recognize his total innocence in his perspective of this world. Being reminded of the simplicity of life gives me a break from the pressure I put on myself. And that’s good for me – physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Number 3: Connect with God.

I struggle to pray – either formal or via conversation. But I do find that when I sit with my thoughts, I sometimes get ANSWERS that I know don’t come from my own mind. They are God talking to me via thoughts. And that’s pretty cool. It’s my way of praying.

Living life high-strung is not a place I enjoy being. So here’s to more praying, dancing, breathing, and drinking. (Lord…am I a country song, or what?) And likely more instances of feeling high strung. But you’ve gotta start somewhere, and today I’m choosing to make life simpler. Wish me luck for tomorrow.

Reasons Why I Won’t Murder My Husband

You ever get the…urge? You know, to take the axe to him?

Yeah, me neither.

But sometimes I worry about him getting in a car accident or falling out of a tree stand or losing a fight with a burglar, and that’s it. I’d be a widow. I know that sounds morbid and horrible, but it really is my greatest fear. And I think we all can get to that dark place every now and again. I tend to let my mind wander there when J is away from home.

But most of the time I think about how much this man drives me nuts. I love him to pieces. I couldn’t imagine my life without him. But sometimes I just want the whole bed to myself and I’m like, “Why did I get married? Do you remember what it was like to sleep by yourself? O.M.G. That was so, so good.” And I have this deep, twisted thought about how glorious it would be to have some freaking personal space.

But let’s be clear: I don’t plan to murder J. First suspects are always the spouse. And I am not writing this post as a cover-up. Or trying to twist and confuse the detectives into thinking this post isn’t a cover-up when it really is.

If something happens to J, I think first suspects should be the parents of the high school soccer team he coaches. Those adults can be straight up cray-cray. If his murder goes down in spring season, it’s practically a guarantee an angry mom or dad lost it because their kid didn’t get enough playing time. Just sayin’.

So let’s focus on the positive: reasons why I need this man in my life. Reasons why I won’t murder my husband.

 

Reason #1: I’ve done the math (I mean, not like to the penny, but in general numbers), and the income he can make in his full time teaching position is worth way more than that life insurance policy. Yes, honey, I am a very practical woman in my finances. And I need you to stay alive and keep working for that cash.

Reason #2: He is a damn good cook. And I don’t have to cook often as a result, which is straight up amazing and convenient for me. I like to eat well. And if I don’t have J around, I’ll have to start feeding myself for a change. That sounds…no bueno.

Reason #3: He makes me snort laugh. When we start laughing, we just can’t stop. We typically laugh at the expense of ourselves or lil O (not when he’s in the room, of course). Or when we’re not stressed, or taking care of a kid, or <insert all the other things that happen during my 24 hour day here>.

Reason #4: I need him to reach tall things.

Ok, that is a total joke just for J because he always says I only keep him around for a couple things, like reaching high things and lifting heavy objects. And I always laugh. But it’s true. I’m a short 5’3” and he’s a tall 6’2”. It’s a nice perk of having a tall, dark and handsome in my life.

Reason #5: I’m so incredibly in love with this sexy man who loves me unconditionally.

I struggle to like him all the time (because I’m a crazy perfectionist with issues – and no one matches my unrealistic standards), but I always come back to how much I need him. I look at him and am reminded of the man who selflessly helped me with Calculus and Biology in college. The man who, junior year, got his four music major roommates to sing a Valentine’s Day tune to my seven roommates.

He has always gone above and beyond to bring me happiness. What an incredible feeling to be delighted in so deeply.

You’ve given me many reasons to be thankful for our life together, J. Consider yourself “safe” from any foul play, honey. And here’s to many more years together.

 

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I’m Suffering from Election Year Anxiety

If you read my post last week, you’ll remember what stress I had been feeling and my total melt down as a result. I had hoped it was getting better, and it is, but for some reason this week, I can’t shake the feeling of anxiety. Webster defines anxiety as, “fear or nervousness about what might happen.”

What am I feeling nervous about? What am I fearful of?

Then today, as I was reading article after article and watching video after video of the presidential debate that occurred a few days ago, I had this gloomy feeling I couldn’t shake. Comments being made by candidates and other politicians are sending me into a tailspin of the future of our nation! Between Trump’s bigotry and arrogance and Clinton’s “crookedness,” and lies from both, I’m about ready to “jump ship.” Ugh. It’s really difficult for many, including myself, to find positive characteristics in either candidates and look forward to the future.

After 45 minutes of going deeper into the rabbit hole, I realized: I’m suffering from election year anxiety.

Self-diagnosed, of course. But this is a real thing that major news outlets are reporting on! I seriously thought I had just come up with a new dictionary term, but turns out NPR, The Atlantic, Time Magazine, Health Central, and Huffington Post are all reporting on this feeling. Also, they’re offering tips on how to cope with deep despair and anxiousness during an election year.

Sure, the articles above give a number of strategies for dealing with this anxiety, but as a Christian, many times we’re encouraged to consider how the Bible guides us toward resolving conflict. And I know the go-to anxiety verses in the Bible:

  • Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow has enough worries of its own.
  • Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

I’m sure you could also add a few more.

But God hit me in the head with a brick again (not literally). I love how ideas pop in my head and I recognize this is God speaking, not my brain doing the work. I had this thought: the leader of the free world will obviously shape America in a new way over the next four years. And if that leader is Trump, then God help us (I guess you know where I stand now). But really, the next president will only have so much influence. And as I started to pin all my hopes and dreams and fears and doubts on this one person, God reminded me that He is ultimately in charge. He will be the Grand Redeemer. And I should be putting all my hope in His plan.

As I consider that, part of me gets angry with God because that logic seems so…immature. Childish, almost. “Put all your hope in Him.” Is it realistic to put all my hope into a being that I often forget is a part of my everyday moment-to-moment actions? It’s easy to forget God’s presence when you’re working with a client at work or cooking dinner at home. But experience has taught me: when I really let go of an issue and ask God to take control of it in my life, he never disappoints. He always shows up. It’s miracle-like stuff, y’all. Been there?

Then I realized, while the president does have a lot of power, the three branches of government exist to balance each other out. And did you know that state and local governments have a more direct impact on your life than federal? It’s in your best interest to spend more time researching the candidates close to home because they’re determining funding for salaries and equipment to emergency services like police and fire departments, public works (like snow removal and street repair), and having the parks mowed and pools filled with water.

Needless to say, I could feel the tension in my neck starting to leave as I processed this. And I chose to take a few deep breaths.

1 Timothy 1-2 provides wisdom from God for one way to approach our government leaders: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

So for now I will pray for our leaders and potential candidates for all offices – federal, state, and local. And I will continue to share my views with those I come into contact with. I will continue to work toward overcoming this anxiety. And I will vote. And you should too. It really does

matter and it takes so little time to do. By choosing to vote, you are literally making history. Your grandchildren will ask you about this election some day. I believe it’s important for me to say that I did my duty as a mother, wife, woman, worker, and American to voice my opinion. I did not stand silent.

So take control of your election year anxiety by letting God have control of your worries about this future. Because He’s got this. Just give Him a chance to show up.

I’m Exhausted by Living the American Dream

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.

img_2399The 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.