Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Compared To Nothing

"I want you, Mom! I want you!"

She's all sobbing hysteria, feverish face flushed and wet with tears.
 "I want you Mommy, I want you! Mom!"

I feel like my ear drums could burst, she's shrieking so loud.

She's been pleading this way constantly for at least 5 minutes - this round. Really she's been at it night and day for weeks. The thing is? The entire time she has been tightly held in my arms.

It's been a week. A Month. Today I finally collapsed under the weight of all the 2 am baths, endless cycles of sick laundry and disinfecting floors. I can't remember when I last took a shower and I'm walking around in a fog of exhaustion. When the toddler came to me with telltale bright blue paint smeared all over his clothes and I discovered his mural on the girls' freshly painted bedroom walls? I was done.

I never understand how people discount struggles by comparing them to the struggles of others. Any time we have the opportunity to share our difficulties, we feel the need to first discredit them by reassuring all around us that we know that others have it far worse. Yes my kids have been sick and I'm exhausted and pregnant, but at least I have kids! And running water! And a roof over our heads! Medicine we can afford!

I understand that perspective matters quite a bit, and knowing that our perspective is skewed by circumstance can be very valuable. I'm also calling this constant dismissal of hard things because, compared to others, they aren't that bad - nonsense.

Hard is hard. Compared to nothing. 

Hard is just hard.

What is hard for me might not be hard for you, but it's still hard. It's still overwhelming. It's still frustrating and it still counts. Sure, a few weeks with sick kids is nothing compared to having a terminally ill child. But it's still hard.  A toddler defacing something that you saved up for, dreamed about and finally, finally were able to execute - isn't the end of the world. No on died, after all. It's just a wall and all that. But it's still disappointing and maybe a bit understandable when you sit there, scrubbing at it and crying.

We are so frightened of our privilege and work so actively to assure the world that we know how good we have it that we have come to a place where we can't even admit that we've had a bad day. Afraid to admit we are disappointed, frustrated, tired or angry - because surely there is someone out there who isn't living our exact charmed existence.

You don't discount the struggles of others by having your own. Fighting with your husband still stinks even though you know someone who wishes she had a husband to fight with. Being completely worn out by a sick, sad and demanding toddler doesn't mean you aren't grateful that you have her - you're just tired!

Gratitude isn't about never having a bad day, or never being discouraged or disillusioned. I can be grateful for the kids I have, the life we lead, our relative health and new mercies each morning while still feeling completely spent - because this is hard.

Good lives typically are, because difficult things shape us - no matter the shape or size.

Being shaped and molded, sanded and refined is always going to hurt a little - or maybe a lot.

Admitting difficulty doesn't downplay the difficulties of others. If anything, it shows that struggle is a part of every life, no matter if you live in a first world country or not. That is something we can all share, relate to, understand - and find comfort in.

I haven't had more than an hour of consecutive sleep since last Saturday and

Compared to nothing.

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  1. Sending you a big hug Lydia xxx

  2. You are right on. It IS hard. I wish I could come make you some tea and bring you some cookies. I know what a cruddy couple of weeks can do to an otherwise strong spirit. Praying for you and yours!

  3. You are amazing. Thank you for naming this. Sharing this far and wide. Prayers for healing and peace to come your way soon.

  4. You are so right. Hard is hard. Our son is autistic & some days feel impossible. We have constant sleep deprivation & difficult behaviour, but it could be worse. It could be illness or physical disability. For us though it is constantly trying & well just hard.
    Everyone has different levels of coping & what is hard for some is not so for others. I feel your exasperation at your painting being ruined!! Don't ever discredit what is a struggle for you. You are the one who is living that situation.
    Hope your kids get better & things settle down for awhile anyway 'cause there is always something when it comes to kids!!!!

  5. Yes! This very thing has been on my mind a lot this week. For lack of a better term, the American church especially has cultivated a bipolar's either all blessing, or all trial. Why can we not accept that life is both at once? It's beautiful and frustrating and awe-inspiring and just exhausting, and every bit of it is grace.

    Hugs and prayers for you, friend. If you lived closer, I'd bring you cake and wine and order you to take the longest shower ever, and not even once tell you that "this too shall pass."

  6. Hard is hard. Well said. Praying you get some sleep soon - and that your whole household is on the mend soon.

  7. "Hard is hard. And what's hard for me may not be hard for you." So very true. Hang in there dear mama. Hope everyone feels better soon.


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