I've been struggling with something lately. Something entirely new to me. Stuck at home with sick children for too long while contemplating my year and what I hoped it would look like verses what it actually turned out like? I have been depressed.
I know it's ridiculous. I have two beautiful children, a loving husband, a warm house, wonderful friends, and an amazing family to celebrate the end of another year. But anyone who knows me at all knows that I am extremely competitive. I want to win at this game called life, and I work with a singular purpose to do better- write more brilliantly- parent/housekeep/schedule organize with more awesomeness.
And looking back on this past year, I feel like I haven't measured up. I feel like I have failed, and I feel like everyone around me notices and talks behind my back about what a disaster I am. I know that (hopefully) the world isn't judging me like that, but some days it's hard to convince myself of it.
So I have been wallowing. Neglecting chores that I know I should do but just can't bring myself to do them because I know that they'll be undone ten minutes later. Holing up in my house even more than necessary because I can't bring myself to leave it. Focusing on goals that I haven't met and convincing myself that I'll never be good enough to get there. Fighting with my husband just for the sport of it. Staring into the smiling faces of my children and trying to force a smile in return.
I beat myself up at every tiny failure and convince myself that I'll never be more than that.
I just wanted to skip Christmas this year. I wasn't feeling the warm, fuzzy spirit of Christmas as I canceled my gingerbread house party before I even planned it, worrying that my children would infect the world if we broke our long quarantine.
The normally bright shiny moments seemed too dull and ordinary to matter.
And last Friday as I was trying to snap myself out of it with a blog post Christmas card, I saw the news of the shooting. I heard of all of those children who wouldn't get one more Christmas. I thought of those mother's broken hearts and how nothing would ever feel warm and fuzzy to them for a very long time.
As some of you remember, my sister lost her son this year. He was one week old- beautiful, handsome, amazing, healthy, and it was a complete surprise when a virus unexpectedly stopped his heart at seven days old. And something I learned from watching my sister deal with the loss of her little boy is that nothing makes this better. There's nothing you can say. Nothing you can do. No sort of lemonade can be made from the lemon of losing a child. It is tragic on every level. At one point in my life I thought that the WORST thing that could happen as a parent is to have a child with special needs. But that's not true. The worst thing that can happen to a mother is to lose the little one who made her a mother.
And with the memory of my sister kneeling before my nephew's tiny casket heavy on my heart I can't stop thinking of these mamas (and dads) dealing with this loss compounded with the worry if their children suffered; if they were scared; how they never got to say goodbye or "I love you" one more time; how they wouldn't be able to give them the Christmas presents they've already wrapped.
It feels selfish to turn around and then say how thankful I am for my two little ones. It feels thoughtless to avoid the intensity of their pain just for my own peace of mind. It feels weird to continue on as if nothing happened because so many lives will never be the same again. And yet on every level this was such a wake up call to me.
Nothing transforms the mundane into life's most amazing moments like the thought of not being able to have them anymore. Motherhood is not a right. It is a privilege.
I can sit at home and feel sorry for my pathetic little self. Or I can capture what I have been given and enjoy it while it's mine. I can make the most of my days or I can roll my eyes that they're all the same. I can whine about the lack of exciting in my life or I can be thankful for the lack of troubled drama.
I don't know why Friday's tragedy happened. I don't know what to say to wrap up good feelings in a pretty red bow. I don't know why these precious children didn't even get a chance at life. I don't know who's right in fighting for certain issues to make sure that this never happens again.
But I do know that my peace and hope comes from someone far bigger than myself. I do know that the lives of my children are held in the hands of an almighty God. I do know that God didn't forget those victims on Friday. I do know where to find peace of heart even in the midst of deep hurt. I do know that my obsession with failure is ridiculous in the grand scheme of what really matters. I do know that I have been given one beautiful life to spend wisely. I do know that each breath that I take and each breath that my children take is not to be taken for granted.
I'm not saying that I'll never struggle again. I'm not saying that life is suddenly easy. But today I am thankful for a new perspective.
As I continue to grieve with and pray for these families, I am reminded from where my joy comes. I am reprimanded of my own selfishness in discontentment with life. I am hopeful that this tragedy can somehow be used for a greater good. I am counting today as a miracle. I am hugging my children tightly and smiling genuine smiles in response to theirs.
I'm choosing to celebrate louder, live more fiercely, love bigger, enjoy with more awareness, and laugh with more abandon. While I can.