I’ve been feeling whelmed lately.
Yes, of course, this is a cultural reference from the late 1900s.
Specifically, it’s a nod to the acclaimed 1999 hit, 10 Things I Hate About You¹ in which high schooler Chastity wonders aloud, “I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?”
Anyway, Chastity, you can be.
Oh, sorry. You were hoping for something shorter this time?
I realized it the other day. It was 7:30 and all our kids were in the bed (all the praise hands for that one – we’re getting there when it comes to sleep!).
Jake and I were sitting on the couch, and I was trying to put words to an anxiousness I had been feeling.
And as we talked through it, Jake articulated exactly how I had been feeling: equal parts underwhelmed and overwhelmed.
The life of a parent is as such.
It’s underwhelming because every day is exactly the same. The same regimen of wake times and meals and toys and bedtimes and negotiations (while being sprinkled with the periodic play date or library story time, of course). And then the weekend comes–those days of rest you used to live for–and nothing changes. You do it all again.
But it’s also overwhelming, and I feel this at the end of each of these predictable days of preschool transit and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches when I wonder if I’m doing a good enough job. Am I loving them well enough? Am I offering them enough undivided attention? Are they eating too many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?
(Answer: Yes, of course they are. Whatever, okay?)
So whelmed, although I will admit this to be my own personal definition, is somewhere in the middle.
I suspect I’m not the only one to feel this way. To go through my days spinning my wheels a little as I try to balance the enormity that is life with the ordinary, particularly simple things that are present all the same.
The more I think about it though, the more I have decided that my general “whelming” feelings aren’t so bad because they keep me rooted in the things that matter.
On one hand, the place in the middle reminds me to love my people well in the simple and understated moments. To unplug from my distractions and pay attention (which is, unfortunately, easier said than done). To engage with them and listen to them and really be with them.
On the other hand, those moments in which I begin to feel overwhelmed are important too because there is a world outside our home that I will one day send our kids into, and the only people wholly responsible for preparing them to face that world are Jake and me.
I want to feel the weight of that because I want to do it well. I want their love and compassion and kindness someday to be rooted in the eternal. To be saturated with Truth.
Which is something that certainly won’t happen by accident or happenstance.
So, in the end, I guess I don’t really hate feeling whelmed.
Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.
¹ Great news: 10 Things I Hate About You IS ON NETFLIX. (In case anyone was wondering what we’re doing tonight.)