My life is wonderful. But it’s also lots of work. Good work. Hard work. Heart work.
This weekend, I gave away our puppy. Or gave her back, technically. She was more work than I thought she’d be. At least for right now, for my season, my family, my personality maybe.
Sweet Sadie was smart as a whip, sweet as pie, cute as a button, and everyone in our house loved her to pieces but me. (Granted, I did like her a lot…) The kids admittedly have done a fantastic job of taking care of her, but always at my direction and with my supervision. They did whatever I asked them to do most of the time, from cleaning up puppy tee-tee to feeding her to picking up a thousand pieces of our outdoor furniture cushions strewn all over the yard.
But even with all the help from the kids, the dog was still a lot of extra work for me for several reasons, and I finally had to be honest with myself about that. She’s been almost like another child to feed regularly, train, supervise, clean up after, and childproof my house for. When it comes down to it, I’m always so busy trying to do all of those things for my human children that I didn’t have time or energy to do all of those things well for Sadie the Dog, too.
The crazy thing is, my parents are both veterinarians and I grew up with at least two dogs at all times in the house. I thought I was a dog lover. Until I tried owning a dog for the first time…with four young children in tow. And homeschooling. And a family budget that doesn’t have a monthly line item for “replace four pairs of chewed-up shoes, half a set of outdoor cushions, four or five toys, and several plastic Frozen figurines.”
I’m sharing this little slice-of-my-life story partly because I suspect that there is something in many of your lives, too, that is ‘just too much.’ Something we feel guilty about saying “enough” to because we feel like we’d be able to handle it if we were better somehow. More calm, maybe. Or more organized, self-disciplined, patient, ambitious, self-sacrificing…you name it.
Maybe you feel guilty about not doing something you think you should be doing, or not doing something you wish you could do. Maybe there is something pushing you over the edge that you wish you could just quit. Maybe my story will give you the affirmation you need to take your legitimate concerns seriously in cases where that’s truly what needs to happen.
Older mentor mom friends have always told me that I’ll almost never regret saying “no” to doing more stuff in this season of young motherhood, but I’ll likely regret doing some of the things I said “yes” to. For me, I think that things that either take time and attention from my marriage or add unnecessarily to my daily work at home get the chop right now. My marriage and my daily life with my kids is where my focus needs to be. And if something is threatening my state of mind in either of those areas, I’m rethinking my reasons for keeping up with it.
I write honestly on my blog about the struggles and hard work of motherhood. I hope I give an honest picture of my own experience without seeming too negative. I’m still learning to see beauty in the mess and the madness, and to hold fast to that in my heart when I’m feeling underwhelmed or overwhelmed by motherhood.
I will think now of those little everyday moments that give me deep joy in this vocation.
My three oldest children laughing together, still at the sweet young ages when they are delighted by many of the same things. That smiley, handsome, and oh-so-kissable baby of mine (see below). The way that fatherhood has made my husband grow up in ways that melt my heart. The way that Mother’s Day finds me more grateful for my own mother’s hard work and sacrifice every year. Waking up each day and seeing the faces of the five people who are most intimately a part of God’s mission for my life. Knowing that those five faces make me a better person. Reading to the big kids and talking about the story together. Singing the baby’s favorite song to calm him down in the van. The way the house is wonderfully full and quiet at the same time when all the children are in bed. The way that my five-year-old daughter draws me with a heart-topped crown on my head. The way that my four-year-old daughter draws me with three antennae and a humongous belly button. The way that I can hardly wait all of a sudden to feel those first little flutters from my new baby.
It’s a wonderful life over here, really it is. But it’s also dog-gone hard sometimes. Like when you can’t give your kids a gift you thought you were ready to give.:)
But you know, if giving away a dog was the hardest thing I had to do this week…life ‘aint so rough. If you would, please take a moment to join me in returning to perspective, and pray with me for two grieving families: One who recently lost its young mother of four to cancer, and the other who just received a cancer diagnosis for their 29-year-old daughter.
One prayer intention for myself that I’ve been praying for this spring is the grace to not become so self-centered that my problems become mountains, instead of molehills. Perspective is so important. It makes us grow up. It makes us focus more on others than on ourselves.
And it makes us grateful for our dog-gone wonderful life.