you CAN just be whelmed.

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.

The end.

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.

So, whelmed.

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.

grow.jpg

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.

free (2).png

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.)

in case anyone else is as tired as i am.

Tired is the new status quo over here.

In the past four months, I can count on one hand the number of times I have slept for longer than two hours at a time before being awoken for one reason (a baby who hasn’t quite figured nighttime sleep out yet) or another (the three-year-old who forgets how to cover herself up with her blanket in the middle of the night).

You might think I’m exaggerating for effect, but Jake can back me up on this one because he sleeps about as well as I do. And, if you need further evidence, you can reference the two pounds of coffee I buy every other week.

I know we’re not the only ones living in a constant state of exhaustion. I also know that the fact that we can attribute this exhaustion to our children is indeed something to be thankful for. Please know that I’m not complaining.

Rather, I’m trying to establish our baseline. It is an indisputable fact that Jake and I are tired pretty much all the time. And it can be frustrating to feel tired all the time.

(Sleep deprivation hardly brings out your best qualities, after all.)

Now, as you might remember, I’m trying to shift my perspective this year. To focus on letting  the hard things change me instead of praying for the hard things to change.

So, in light of that, here’s what God had to say about my current state of exhaustion:

For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.¹

He doesn’t promise me sleep, but He does promise rest for my soul.²

come-to-me-all-who-labor-and-are-heavy-laden-and-i-will-give-you-rest-29-take-my-yoke-upon-you-and-learn-from-me-for-i-am-gentle-and-lowly-in-heart-and-you-will-find-rest-for-your-souls

My physical body may be tired, but my soul doesn’t have to be.

That. That is something of hope when you’re dragging yourself out of bed for the fifth time in the middle of the night. When your alarm goes off two hours earlier than you wish it would. When you just. can’t. catch. up.

There’s hope. Always hope.

And, tonight I feel restored in knowing that exhaustion can’t touch things like joy or peace (to name a few). There is rest for my soul.

So that’s where I’m at. Tired but satisfied. Sleep-deprived but replenished. Exhausted but well-rested.

Wondering if I’ll ever sleep through the night again (of course I know I will. This is the part where I exaggerate for effect.) but also feeling rejuvenated because I’ve been promised a more important rest.

The most important rest.

And hopefully that’s what I’ll remind myself of when I reach for that third cup of coffee tomorrow.


¹ Jeremiah 31:25

² Matthew 11:28-29

new year. new prayer.

I didn’t start 2017 in a particularly good mood.

I usually like to think about fresh, white canvases and blank pages to write a new chapter of our story into on the first of the year.

Instead, I woke up in the thick of post-vacation chaos: suitcases and miscellaneous bags of things strewn all over the living room, piles of mail that needed attention, and kitchen countertops that I think were under the clutter somewhere.

And that’s not to mention the three tiny people in our house who were equally struggling to get back on rhythm.

I had a headache by 9 a.m.

And yet, headache or not (Oh, you thought it would have gone away by now?), the blank page remains. And, it’s not in my nature to ignore it.

It’s so easy for me to get bogged down and frustrated about this phase in my life. And lately, I’ve found myself praying things like, “Please help him sleep,” or “Please calm her down,” or “Please cancel the rest of residency for the year, so Jake can be home all the time to help me.”

And then, this week I was reminded of something I wrote a few months ago about finding value in the hard things.

So, I’ve decided this year, my resolution is to seek change for myself rather than from other people.

When it comes to the sleepless days and sleepless nights (all the coffee over here, people), I’ve decided to start praying for patience and strength and gratefulness that God chose me for these kids.

When it comes to said screaming kids, I’ve decided to start praying for wisdom and that God would help me know our kids, so I can love them well.

When it comes to residency, I’ve decided to keep praying that it would be cancelled because that, at least, seems pretty reasonable.

Solomon asked for wisdom, too. And, as we enter the new year, God’s response to his request gives me hope:

Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind.

in-paradise-1

So that’s where I’m at. Standing on the blank page of 2017 and knowing that when I look back on this chapter in a year, I’ll be a wiser, more patient, and better rested version of myself.

(I can still pray for sleep, right?)

Here’s to another year of choosing to live each day well. Who’s with me?

my kids are teaching me about forgiveness.

I stand by my theory that one of the hardest parts about being a parent is adjusting to the constant ebb and flow of kids. They master one thing, then regress in another. They conquer one milestone, then change their mind on another. In my case, it always feels like just when we’ve found a good rhythm, they up and grab a different instrument altogether.

For instance, all summer, the girls have been waking up at 7:30 a.m., a time everyone in our house felt really good about. Then, suddenly last week, they decided 6:15 a.m. would be more appropriate. Even better is that they have decided it’s best to just stay in bed and yell angrily until someone comes and gets them. They started beating a drum just when we had gotten used to the soothing sounds of a string quartet.

I did not handle this change well. And as I worked to adjust, I realized that I had this innate need for the girls to know that they were inconveniencing me. I wanted them to know how terrible it was to wake up to angry screaming, and I wanted them to feel bad about it.

As it turns out, guilt trips are not a highly effective means toward change when it comes to small children. Go figure.

Anyway, it has me thinking about forgiveness, an act that is much more difficult to come by when the offending party hasn’t actually asked for it.

I err on the side of over-sensitive and easily wounded. I’ve certainly come a long way in this regard (mostly thanks to Jake’s magical prowess with reasoning), but I can still pinpoint times in my life where I had to move forward from something without an apology. Parenting included (let’s talk about how irrational I can get when inadvertently head-butted in the face or made late to something because of an ill-timed tantrum).

And, lately, it’s in each one of these moments that I’m always reminded of what God says to Jonah after Jonah is whining about how unfair it is that God showed mercy on the people of Ninevah.

“Do you do well to be angry?”

Loving kids is to understand sacrifice. Sometimes it’s just easier to be mad. But in these moments, that simple question has started whispering in above the beating drum: Do you do well to be angry?

plant.jpg

The answer is always no (even if there is a strong justification for the anger¹).

The principle transcends parenting, really; it’s just another example of how this whole being-a-mom thing is refining me into a better person or whatever.

So here’s to burying the anger, the self-pity, and the other bummer qualities that distract us from better things. Good things. Important things. Refining things.

At least, that’s what I’ll be telling myself at 6:15 tomorrow morning.


¹ For the record, I don’t think a 6:15 a.m. wake-up call is reason to justify being angry. It’s not such a bad time to wake up; it just happens to be the most recent change that has me reeling a bit. And, It’s not my fault that I’m so tired in the morning. I blame NBC, Eastern Standard Time, and Simone Biles.

a few of my favorite things.

I tend to love things emphatically. Harry Potter. McDonald’s soft serve ice cream. My kids’ bedtime (and when they actually stay in bed WHICH HAS BEEN HAPPENING). The way a fine-tip sharpie changes your handwriting from everyday average to fancy in just moments (this last one has helped increase my correspondence tremendously).

I’m finding that summer intensifies my love of things which I think is mostly thanks to Vitamin D and longer days to fill with wonderful things.Anyway, mostly for my own reflective purposes and because I love to tell other people about the various things I love, here are a few of my favorite things right now:

The library. More specifically, the fact that I can check eBooks out and have them delivered wirelessly to my Kindle from the comfort of my home. Attention, people who are buying books: libraries let you read these same books for free! Free!

I have, lately, been obsessively reading memoirs and autobiographies. I already referenced Kelle Hampton’s book, Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected, awhile ago, but recently I’ve been making my way through the minds of various actresses (you can click on the pictures to read more via Amazon although obviously I would suggest utilizing your local library).

I usually stick very closely to fiction, but I can’t stop swimming around in other people’s brains and looking at the world as they see it (which in turn causes me to think about my own lens and perspective).

Our minivan. I almost wrote an entire essay entitled “A Love Letter to My Minivan,” but given that a year ago I wrote an impassioned post about my dishwasher, it felt a little much. Attention, people who have made a solemn vow against minivans: DO YOU EVEN KNOW ABOUT ALL THE SPACE? You can’t because you have vowed to never step foot inside one!

In case the space alone doesn’t convince you, here are some additional perks: The doors open automatically as if by magic. You can fit more people than just your family which often eliminates the need for multiple vehicles. When you go through a drive thru, you are the same level as the cashier which I find to be especially pleasant.

The West Wing. I started watching this series when we moved to Cleveland a year ago and am only now nearing its end. This can be attributed to the fact that I don’t like the things I love to end and because I wanted Jake to watch with me (which slowed me down considerably).

Attention, people who think this is just a boring television show from the late 90s: I’m rolling my eyes at you. Everyone else: Bartlet for America!

Mexican Restaurants. Attention, people with small children: You CAN still go out to eat in your new life. The beauty of a good (“good” here meaning cheap, hole-in-the-wall) Mexican restaurant is that the chips will tide your kids over for exactly the amount of time it takes to cook your food. And then, if you’re real pros like Jake and me, you know how to feed a family of four with two lunch combos and will leave having spent no more than $12.

I could go on and on. The month of July. Splash Parks. Books written by Mo Willems. Rocking chairs on the front porch. Pictures lit by natural, summer sunlight. Oh, and coffee that is sent anonymously to me through the mail.

The other day I was feeling sorry for myself about something particularly insignificant when I stopped and thought about all the good things that had happened to me during that single day. It’s obviously not any sort of original practice (there are books written on the concept, for crying out loud), but it did recenter me. It reminded me that if I can make a list of even one good thing, that’s something to be thankful for.if i can make a list of even one good thing, that's something to be thankful for..jpg Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll spend the rest of the evening watching The West Wing with Jake while I catch up on some correspondence with the Sharpie pen I just found. It’s almost election day and things are really heating up. Santos for a Brighter America!