I was in the car with my daughter, and she has developed a bad habit of noticing all the houses for sale and critiques them. Today she said something about how bad a house’s yard was, that the people must not care, and they should take better care of it. I’ve heard her talk like this before, and I finally couldn’t take hearing it any longer. I told her that we don’t know what those people’s stories were, what struggles they may be dealing with, or any pain they may have. Yes, there are lazy people out there who don’t take care of their stuff, but many people are out there with a story, a struggle, we just don’t know about. We have to stop judging each other, tearing each other down so we can feel better, feel more justified in our life choices, or feel more important.
Lawns can be mowed, yards can be redone, houses can be cleaned and painted, but the immense value of the occupants is the same, no matter the state of a house.
I asked Emma what would people say about our house? It’s a mess more times than I’d like to admit. We are tired…exhausted. Taking care of Taylor is consuming at times, and at the end of the day we just have nothing left. During the day, I find myself resting up for what feels like the sprint race that will happen once Taylor gets home. It’s like running a marathon at an 800m pace. (Little history tidbit…the original guy who ran from Marathon to Athens…? Yeah, he died. You marathoners are crazy!)
But what would a stranger think of my house? Would they give me the benefit of the doubt and think there might be a story that goes along with me, or would they just judge and assume that everything, every failing, is just a character flaw of a lazy person.
I am so tired with judgemental thinking. I find when I choose to let go of it, I feel free. Prayers are so much more helpful than raised eyebrows, looking down from elevated chins.
Where do we get off assuming that anyone in a less than ideal situation wants it that way, doesn’t care about it, or couldn’t use some kind of help/encouragement? When will some people make that choice to extend beyond their comfort zone to at least consider the possibility that all is not what they might see?
It’s obviously more than just about houses. I find a lot of judgemental looks and comments coming my way when strangers (and sometimes not strangers) see my son and quickly assume it’s all because I’m a bad parent.
It’s more than just me and my experiences. What is it about all the this-is-better-than-that competitions? I was talking to my physical therapist, who’s wife just had their second child, and during our conversation about how the birth went he asked me “Why do so many women treat pregnancy experiences, especially about the birth, like a pissing contest?”
We do. I don’t know why. It’s hard enough to be a mom, and then to alienate a possible friend just because of differing views on subjects that have no right or wrong way makes life so much harder and lonely.
I will be showing my home to a group of dear friends in a month. Not to show some new improvement or decor scheme that has been done, but to show the mess. Let that sink in. No hiding behind 2 hour sprints to get it ready for company (which usually requires stuffing everything out of sight into my bedroom) and no excuses. It is very humbling. I am working on letting go of guilt and feelings of failure. I haven’t been giving myself the ability to see my story for what it is, and I let fear of judgement creep in. I even judge myself and don’t let myself see how hard things are at our house. I give myself little to no grace.
Our friends have asked to help us. They want to clean and help with projects. Tears of gratitude flow as I write this. They know we need help. We were shocked with their desire to help and so thankful and blessed to have a family of friends like them. They know our story, and want to help…with no judgement. What a huge blessing and relief. I feel loved.
I’m exhausted, to the point I have a hard time hiding it when going into public.
Let me tell you about an average day. I wake up an hour before bus pickup for Taylor. I open the blinds tell him to get up and make sure I at least see him stir. I have to be careful not to be too forceful, or it might throw him off and getting him on the bus might fail. Then I would have to drive him to school, which means I would spend at least the next 10 minutes trying to get him out of the car while he is screaming, crying, and pinching the heck out of me. If he wakes up on his own, I have a better chance of success. Yet I have to make sure he is awake and up at just the right time or else he won’t be ready and mentally in the right spot the minute the bus arrives.
I then find some clothes for him, usually out of the laundry pile because I am so very behind on all my chores (and I hate folding laundry the most). After that, I start dressing him. I know he could possibly dress himself, but it would be a battle that could throw him way off, and I really need that time when he is at school to recoup and get some ‘me time’. If he has a bad bus ride or has to be driven, a call home from the school is very likely. I have to put on his underwear. It’s hard, because he is at the stage where it is an uncomfortable awkward task. I then proceeded to put on his shorts, shirt, and shoes. Sometimes he doesn’t want to get dressed, and then starts to pinch and scratch. I have to lock all the doors to the bedrooms and the family room so I can keep him close to the front door because if he gets to far towards one end of the house or the other, he will resist coming to the door. I then have to drag him and/or push him out, receiving more scratches, pinches, and screams. I then pray that the bus is on time, because I time his being ready to the minute so he doesn’t start to settle in for the day at our house. If that happens, he won’t leave the house. My morning is full of stress, sometimes some panic, and pleading prayers. When he gets on the bus, I have to make sure my daughter is ready for school and we quickly get in the car and drive the 15 minutes to her school. She, most the time, has to ready herself because I am so busy with Taylor. It breaks my heart. Once I get home all I want to do is rest and do nothing because in 5 hours he will be home, and more constant busyness and damage control happens until he goes to bed, which can be as late as 12:30 before we can even get him to calm down enough to at least stay in his room. Every day we have to suck up water from the bathroom, many times more than once, because he has flooded the floor from putting water in the bathtub and slipping back and forth in it. Our rug doctor is parked out side the bathroom door in the hall. We have to follow him around making sure he keeps his pants on. He trashes his room everyday to the point you can’t walk on the floor. He doesn’t sit still for more than a few minutes all day. Those are just some of the things that he does.
Finding the time, will power, and strength to do chores is difficult, sometimes painful, and I feel so very lazy when I try and rest and R&R for the upcoming afternoon and evening. It’s hard to rest when you live in a house that screams “Clean me, lazy woman!” I am in constant stress waiting for that call that says Taylor is doing poorly, and sometimes I am asked to pick him up early. When he gets home, I pray and worry about getting him to go inside instead of trying to run away. I am not able to stop him so easily anymore.
I had, in the past, hidden away from a social life because I was afraid I didn’t fit in, and I am so exhausted to do things sometimes. Now that I have realized a need and desire for friendships and how valuable they are, it is hard to break into already formed groups.
Don’t get me wrong, I am in love with my son. I birthed him. He is my flesh and blood, and in his heart you will find such sweetness. He has a laugh that is infectious. His smiles are ear to ear. He loves MarioKart and Super Mario Bros. He has no personal bubble and loves to give hugs. He loves to kiss his baby brother all the time. He also is entering puberty, and he feels like a different difficult person. I miss him. In the midst of the struggle we forget that our little boy is still there, that our little sweet 3-year-old boy is still inside. And he’s lonely. We have forgotten not how to love, but how to feel.
I laid on the grass last night looked up at the stars and just asked God “Do you even see me?” I know that is a silly question. I know that he sees me, but it felt really good to just voice my pain. “Do you see the hitting. Do you see the pinching. Do you see the scratching? Do you see the bruises? Do you see the fears? Do you see our confusion, our worry. Do you see that we don’t know what to do? Do you see that we are out of ideas? When are you going to help?” I know the Bible says that God is already helping, that God is at work, that God is always there. There are just moments in everybody’s life where it feels like he is not there there, has abandoned us, doesn’t see us, doesn’t notice us, or he’s busy doing other things. I remember hearing a philosopher William Lane Craig mentioning, in a response to a question, that the worst thing that you can do in times of doubt, is to stop praying, to stop asking, to stop inquiring until you think you have all the answers. The Bible even shows some of the greats of our past questioning God, asking God, even doubting him. The Bible is full of examples of bringing your concerns to God when you have doubt.
This is just part of my story. A story that a stranger doesn’t know. Everybody has a story that we don’t know, yet we are so quick to judge on what we see on the outside. What would a stranger think of my house? Probably not good things.
I don’t want it to be this way. I have a deep longing to have my house in perfect order. It’s a dream of mine. I want to decorate it beautifully, creatively, and I long to be able to have the energy, time, and money to do it. I can’t work so with the addition to high medical bills for Taylor, we are poor. I want to have dinner ready without stress. I want to be able to teach my daughter style, help her do her hair, even have time to make breakfast. I want to be able to teach her music, singing, crochet, and more. I want to be a good example of how to parent and keep a beautiful home. I long for it with all my heart.
So what a stranger sees is not a representation of who I am. Let’s not be so quick to judge.
Everyone has a story. What is yours?
As always, positive comments are welcome. Negative hurtful comments will be trashed before I can even finish reading them. I have many readers who are emotionally vulnerable, and I will not post comments that will further harm.
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