Well, guys, we did it. My children got to their first day of school on time. Which is no small miracle considering that we spent the summer living like college students.
My ordinarily normal home became a total frat house, minus the underage drinking.
I only cooked real food when we had friends over. Which was not nearly enough to sustain my family. Fortunately, my seven year old son, who would be just fine to solely exist off of gummy bears, assured me that all food is real food.
And I embraced his logic as if he were writing his PhD dissertation on the matter.
Because a mother should totally trust a child who, like his brothers, has not yet figured out that a toilet is meant to be peed in, not on. Or around. Or on the wall nearby. Or their summertime favorite, from the front porch.
Honestly, I am surprised they even had to pee at all considering the copious amounts of sodium they ingested from living off of Ramen and chips.
You probably think I am kidding. You guys, it got so bad that my one year old learned to sleep in until 9. NINE IN THE MORNING. I’ve never met a toddler who sleeps in, but lucky for me, she adapted well to the frat life.
There was an overabundance of television. And a whole lot of doing nothing.
Summer was fine. We took a few trips. Went to some summer camps. We did have fun. It probably won’t be one my children look back on with great fondness. Unless they one day appreciate the number of Fortnite wins they achieved.
But it was just what my soul needed.
The last three years have been one thing after another after another…we closed our business, moved halfway across the country without a job, away from our dearest friends, spent nearly a month in the NICU when my body decided 43 months of pregnancy was its limit, took a long time to find a job, found out my dad had cancer, lived with that and then his subsequent passing…all while being responsible for the upbringing of five humans who like things like food and clean clothes and an education.
Sound exhausting? Try living it (or don’t. It wasn’t great.)
Earlier this year, around the time when birds started chirping and flowers started blooming, my life actually…dare I say it…calmed down.
After years of trying circumstances, it was time to deal with it all.
As an Enneagram 7, the last thing I wanted to do is face the pain of the recent years. If you know nothing of the enneagram, just know that it is in my nature to avoid pain at all costs. And I don’t mean to brag, but I am really good at it. I have been able to see the good in everything, until there just wasn’t much good to be seen.
I knew that I knew that I had to sit in the pain and grieve some of life’s greatest disappointments.
The way I processed was by doing only what I had to and giving myself time and space. I wasn’t a good friend. I was a subpar mom, at best. I didn’t make a bucket list. We barely went swimming. I think my kids bathed at some point?
And guess what? My kids survived. Thrived, actually. They needed the downtime just as much as I did. Not necessarily to process but to just be kids. The magic of childhood isn’t found in the over scheduled moments Fall is sure to bring…it’s in catching fireflies in June and eating slushies and sumo wrestling your brothers and staying up too late.
The days spent without an alarm or a meal plan or any sort of plan didn’t make for a particularly memorable summer…but it made for a refreshing one. It’s not like I will never be sad again, but I got to a place of gratitude for the sweet memories and for the part life’s hardest moments have played in my story.
I never thought life would hold so much disappointment. Having walked through a lot of it in recent years, I can now see it also holds so much redemption.
(These are vulnerable words for me to write, and I enjoy vulnerability about as much as I enjoy pain.)
As I bring my frat house back from the brink of several health code violations and pick up the pieces of unmet expectations, I think it’s important for you to know there is hope on the other side of what you’re going through.
The very thing that breaks you will be the gift you have to offer the world.
The most disappointing circumstances and life’s greatest heartbreak serve to make you into a person that people need. Deep down, I think we all want to be significant and make our life count. Your life story, with all its beauty and joy and ugly and painful parts, matters. Who you are and the experiences that have shaped you have important purpose.
Personally, I know it’s so much easier to complain and get angry when life is hard. And there is certainly a time for that. But the fiery trials of life are refining you into the most beautiful version of who you are meant to be. It is tempting to believe that trials are ruining you. Quite the opposite is true: the world needs who you become when life doesn’t work out quite the way you had hoped. That person holds so much more kindness, gentleness, and mercy. And I promise people need those more than anything.
I honestly planned to make this a light hearted post about going back to school. I wanted to make you laugh as you battled nerves for the year ahead (and feel better about all of the summer reading you did or did not do). But as I sit in my quiet house with my big kids gone and my toddler napping, thinking back on the summer, I think the better thing is knowing your life is tremendously valuable.
The road paved with broken dreams, unmet expectations, and painful experiences (of course, in the midst of all that is good and awesome) will lead you into your greatest calling in life. And that will leave a legacy far beyond what a completed bucket list or perfect summer tan could ever do.
Your story matters, my friend. And chapters that are particularly hard to write matter all the more ❤️