Cara is a freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom living on the East Coast with her husband and two sons. After years of working in student ministry, she has come home to raise her boys and begin tackling grad school. She loves hanging out with college students, watching Parenthood and eating chocolate like it's one of the food groups. In addition to iBelieve, Cara is a contributing writer at RELEVANT and Today's Christian Woman. She writes about faith, marriage, motherhood and intentional living at www.carajoyner.com. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.
There's tired and there's TIRED.
In our house, 2014 will be summarized by the second type. Some weeks were life giving, others were devastating. Change was unavoidable. It seemed to be everywhere.
The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale measures the amount of stress a person has experienced within a year by assigning units of life change for each event. The suggestion is that by adding these units together, you can gage how likely a person is to become sick from the stress their body has been under. A score between 150 and 299 represents a moderate risk for illness. Over 300 is an indicator for developing illness due to stress. The psych major in me was curious, so I took the test...and scored 547...?! Hmmm.....yeah. Needless to say, I was singing a few praises for the start of 2015, because we, the Joyners, are tired.
I've been trying to find words. For the last three months, I've be wringing my hands and raking my thoughts, searching for words to bring back here. But there was an apartment to pack up and a new (old) house to paint and two little boys to feed, clean and protect from themselves...and with each passing week, the words drifted further away and the tired settled in with more weight...more haze.
So I'm sitting here now, determined to not get up until the more arduous work of writing is done.
Enough. Before we moved, I began to sense that I was drowning in the water of my own life - a feeling only affirmed by the act of bringing everything we own into a 57-year-old house and trying to paint the entire interior surface area before the birth of baby boy #3. That's what I've been saying was the goal, but it's actually a lie. What I really wanted was to paint every inch before anyone came over to visit - to show them the clean finished product instead of the messy process. I tried hard to do it too, but eventually I started to break and every part of my body, from my pregnant hips to my cloudy mind and my dried up heart, begged me to stop.
If life feels like drowning and I'm not in crisis, something's wrong. If the everyday hours feel more like a race to survive (or perform) than a new opportunity to love and live and serve, something's wrong.
To equate the day-in-day-out, non-crisis stuff of life to drowning is ridiculous. And dramatic. The list will never end and the demands on our time and resources will only grow; and as much as I'd like to wait for someone to take my hand and outline healthier boundaries, I know that I'm a grownup. Plus, those who know me well will tell you that I don't tend to respond favorably to others telling me what I can and can't do. The responsibility to say no to unrealistic and unnecessary expectations is solely mine. How much is enough? I am the only one who can answer and if I don't, the elusive question will haunt me relentlessly.
So I'm throwing my hands in the air, whispering words of thanks and saying that this is enough. Right here. Right where I am.
If we fill our living room with friends and the walls are bare, but they feel wanted and welcomed, it's enough.
If the boys' bedroom remains half painted for the next six months because we stopped painting and TOOK A NAP, it's enough.
If the nursery remains unpainted, not decorated and laughable by all Pinterest definitions, but his dresser has sufficient diapers and moderately clean clothes to get us through the day, it's enough.
If we can't swing the extra cash for a date and our kids crawl into our bed every night around 1AM, but my husband and I can fall asleep next to each other, too tired to talk, it's enough.
If my kitchen floor is older than I am and if my lunch menu is a simple rotation of quesadillas and PB&J, but the bellies of my children are always full, it's enough.
If we can't afford preschool or babysitters right now, but our kids are generous and kind and happy, it's enough.
If our house is messy and mismatched and safe, it's enough.
If we just squeeze by on paying the bills, but our home is warm on cold nights, it's enough.
If the day this baby is born there is laundry everywhere and his room is still full of moving boxes, it's enough.
I will not drown under pressure and expectations and lists that I created for myself or my family. I can't afford to choke out the life from these beautiful days with such short-sighted vision and poor perspective.
There are a number of new things I'm excited for in 2015 - getting to know this new baby boy and watching his brothers find their place with him, a summer of not being pregnant and literally running around with my family, more writing (lots more writing), and a few dreams that are too fresh to put to paper this early in the year. Less pressure. Less striving. More rest. Less painting (yes & amen!). More being. Less fighting to get our new home to that place I imagine it could be. More life.