When I Wish for a Different Life

Lately? I’ve been feeling harried and haggard. Frayed at the edges and rushed in the middle. Because life is ballet mom, flag football mom, wife, teacher, migraine sufferer, committee member, writer, all the other things and somewhere in there—me.

Have I mentioned lately I have ADHD? Because that’s a thing too.

Last week Prince Charming came in the door the same moment the ballerina and I were leaving. Hello. Good-bye.

You’re picking up dinner, I called through my car window.

I wasn’t cooking. I had decided.

I know you understand…you’ve been there too.

After I dropping my girl off at Nutcracker rehearsals, I headed to my favorite coffee shop. (I’m a cliché…) With computer and books in hand I knew I had several hours of lesson prep ahead.

A sweet friend I hadn’t seen in ages stood in front of me at the cash register where I soothed my ache with carbs and sugar. We said hello, and she had the pleasure, rather misfortune, of asking how I was and getting an honest response.

Basically? I spewed words of stress, anxiety, and angst her way. Bless her heart for standing there with a smile on her face as I huffed and puffed about wanting to be just a mom. About how I was desperate to have my children in school while I didn’t work. That way I could have a clean house and a home cooked meal instead of gross toilets and 1,000 frozen pizzas.

I know I live in Lala Land, and it doesn’t work out that way—but still.

Yesterday? I walked in the door at 4:30, began grading at 4:45, and didn’t stop until 10:00 last night except to eat a dinner that, yet again, I had no role in creating.

And then? As I got up from dinner to go grade some more? My Court Jester wrapped his arms around me and broke my heart into pieces.

Why do you have to be a teacher? I wish you were just a home-mom. Then you wouldn’t have to grade papers and could spend more time with me.

Yep. His words exactly. I know because they burned a hole into my innermost being.

I’ll take five heaping helpings of mom-guilt please…

And if you’ve managed to read this far before thinking, “What does she have to complain about? She has a great family, a steady job, and no real worries in the world,” then kudos.

Because you’re right. I love teaching. My family is precious. I know I shouldn’t whine.

The self-reproach weighs heavy as I complain about a life that’s pretty dad-gum great. But maybe you’ve been there, too. Maybe your crazy-busy life is beautiful, but maybe there are days and weeks you feel like if someone pulled one more thread from your delicate balance, you’d unravel into a tangled mess. A mess no one can fix.

Contentment is hard to get right.

Most days I get it wrong.

Because most days? I want to be a home-mom. I don’t want to grade until my eyes are bloodshot and so dry my contacts have glued themselves to my corneas.

Most days I’m desperate for a home that is clean more than once every six weeks or so.

Most days I want to cook a meal for my family that doesn’t involve a microwave or a box-mix of anything.

Most days I want to be the mom that doesn’t have to miss field trips and special events.

Stay-at-home moms have crazy, insane lives, too. I know because I was home when Ella-girl was young.

But I’m not home now.

Don’t hear me wrong. My life’s not harder because I work full time. Nope. That’s not it at all.

My real problem?

I want what I can’t have.

There stands the struggle. The envy and the dissatisfaction. Discontentment has a staring contest with my emotions, and I blink first.

When I focus on what my life isn’t, I lose sight of what my life is.

When I get contentment wrong, it’s because I haven’t gotten gratitude right.

And there is the miracle in this mess. The miracle of this life is communing with the Father,and turning a heart of dissatisfaction to one of Thanksgiving. Living with contented heart means living a life of constant gratitude.

Gratitude for surprise cups of coffee given by the student as I walk into the school. Gratitude for the Godiva truffle a student shares because it was her favorite, and she wanted me to love it, too. Gratitude for my babes who jump in the car with me at 9:00 pm and head to the park so I can take pictures of the harvest moon. Gratitude for my Love who picks up my slack without complaint. Gratitude for the music that softly plays in the background as I write from a plush chair with the gentle glow of the lamp nearby.

Can I still struggle with the hard days? Days I want to crawl into bed and sink into the shadows? Without doubt. Because there are some days when we are overwhelmed by the tragedy taking place in our own corners of the world.

But.

The more gratitude swells, the higher the tide comes in to wash away the discontented sand that scratches and sticks to my skin.

Maybe. Just maybe…contentment isn’t so hard after all.

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7 Responses to When I Wish for a Different Life

  1. Chris Hovendon says:

    I am grateful my wonderful wife has such an amazing friend in her life. A friend who brings so much joy to her. A friend who brightens her day with just a simple mention of her. Thank you for being that friend!

  2. chandagriese says:

    Oh, Heather. You so speak to my heart in this season. May it truly be a time of gratitude even if I too feel “like if someone pulled one more thread from your delicate balance, you’d unravel into a tangled mess. A mess no one can fix.” Yep. That’s where I’m at. But I want to be content. Thank God for grace. I’m going to try to rest in it.

  3. Amy McCorkle says:

    “When I focus on what my life isn’t, I lose sight of what my life is.” What a powerful statement! Thank you for always saying what I need to hear.

  4. Rebecca Randall says:

    Thank you for the reminder to have an attitude of gratitude. You are a blessing

  5. Emily Conde says:

    I’m so glad I stopped to read this tonight. Returning to teaching has been challlenging. For three years, while purse strings were tight and my husband’s health was challenging, I felt like I could be the mom I wanted to be. Having to return to teaching, while I’m grateful to have a place that sought me out, has been disheartening. So I thank you for your words tonight.

  6. Jann Martin says:

    Beautiful post. Well said.

  7. One day, God will give you the desires of your heart to have more time, stillness and peace…and you will be grateful beyond measure and will appreciate it so very much! All in God’s time, my dear. I speak from experience having been where you are…same thoughts and feelings. Praying for God’s best for you in the days ahead and his strength and joy for today! This was a beautiful piece. Keep up the good work.

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