These days, if I am what I repeatedly do, I am: a cook, a housekeeper, a tutor. A mother who gets exasperated too quickly with her children. One who fills found moments by scrolling on her phone entirely too often. Someone who can’t find a book she wants to read, so she just doesn’t read. A wanna-be runner who doesn’t want to run (it’s gotten cold in Virginia). Someone who responds to text messages in her head and not in actuality. A friend who doesn’t return phone calls. And, more and more, a writer who can’t find her inspiration, so she just doesn’t say anything.
Lately I find myself—a self-professed lover of words—speechless. At the end of a trying second half of the day with the kids last week, when they were down for the night, Daniel asked me what I wanted to do. “Not talk,” I said.
“Not even to me?” he asked.
“Not really,” I shrugged. My days are filled with gentle coaxing, reminding, correcting, talking off the ledge (literally, for my son, and figuratively for my daughters) and sometimes, if I’m honest, yelling. So I don’t return phone calls and I sit in front of a blank screen with nothing to say.
I love the idea of hitting the ground running, but this year it hasn’t happened for me. And I’m mostly okay with it, mostly okay giving myself time and grace. Mostly. To a point. And I’m wondering where that point is, when my permissiveness shifts to coddling and enabling. I don’t want to enable myself to fail and call it “grace,” don’t want to give myself permission to give up and call it “rest.”
So this is where I’ve been. Meandering around in my mind, halfheartedly reading things I’ve already written, wondering where—and how— to pick back up. And maybe we’re not all writers, but I can’t be the only one feeling a little lost.
I see you in the grocery store with your cart full of littles; I see you walking out of church with your crying baby. I see you picking up your kid after a full day of work; I see you looking miles away, even in a crowd of people. And if I had empty hands and a coherent thought in my head, I would stop you and say this: “Me too. I am grateful for this moment, and it is good, and I am not necessarily in a hurry to get past it, but this isn’t all I am either.”
So I’m stumbling through these thoughts and days, trying to figure out how to restructure my time and mindset so I can find that room of my own again. If I run into you and you ask how I’m doing and I avert my eyes and mumble that I’m working on a book or working back up to three miles or actually taking my yoga pants to yoga, then you’ll know I've found it again. If I mention only the kids or the husband or the schedule, you’ll know I’m still working on it. But either way, I will try to shake off the platitudes and well-intended motivational sayings that some of my multi-level-marketing friends love to post on Facebook and embrace the truth: that my value and purpose lie somewhere much higher than in my daily activities, and they are secure. And, just in case you’ve been a little lost in your mind too, let me remind you: so are yours.