When Life Doesn’t Cooperate

JK,

I wish I had the words and muscle to help bear your load. You have borne your distresses with such amazing grace. Caring for the elderly becomes much like the labor over young children and you are pressed on all fronts with little margin to tend to your own needs.

Ariel Levy, staff writer at The New Yorker, recounts in her memoir her traumatic miscarriage out in Mongolia at five months. She speaks of grief, loss, growing up, thinking she had been getting somewhere with her career, love, playing house, motherhood, when it all came crashing on her head and she realized she’d just been driving around. She longs for her lost child in the crushed dream of motherhood, and confesses the fear of being without a companion. I thought of you but also of us all.

She quotes a famed writer, a woman in her ritzy apartment late in life who, when asked about her unfulfilled desire for children, answered simply that everybody cannot have everything. Ariel came to see – slowly – that we can have some things. I would add that every gift, every station in life, comes with a dark side we don’t think too much about in eyeing what we don’t have. This side of heaven, as you know, life is a burden, the burden of our humanity. T’s hobble from a judo injury has tapered to a limp. But I am reminded that we all limp. And joy can be found in all things.

Life here has been too full. I don’t have hands enough for all that needs doing, putting one fire out after another. Preoccupied as I had been with T, it took 36 hours for me to look down and understand that my thumb was (very) mad at me and was shouting up through my shoulder. I had forgotten the freak wrench off the joint after that first scream. In the resentment at being stretched like taffy, at being kept from the writing in life’s madness and the home school, it hit me last night that I have one shot at this. No matter how hard I try in the future, I will not be able to do this day over with T, resurrect his childhood and do motherhood more patiently and sweetly. I will not be able to care for him as I would want to. In a blink these years evaporated, leaving me with the freedom I gasp for some days and the house quiet. What lessons in character that he has learned from me (by watching) will he take into the world, into his own life and family? Faced, in the past, with the choice of alter egos for a life I could relive, I would’ve – so satisfied with my person – chosen my present self. Now, I would jump at the chance to be anyone else. Someone better at happiness, someone who knows worrying saves no one. In all that selflessness of yours, be selfish with the joy, JK. I don’t envy you your sorrows but no need to look this way through frosted windows.

Love always,
D.

Dear God, yes, I’ll take Combo #4. The family free of injuries (could we throw in my parents?), obedient child, antiaging powers, and that book deal we’ve talked about. But on the days that a smile is a workout, I’ll take it Γ  la carte, the grace just to get through and to know You’ve got this.

115 thoughts on “When Life Doesn’t Cooperate

  1. Beautifully written! My thoughts and hugs are with you as you deal with all life throws at you! Remembering what stuff to sweat and what stuff to not waste time worrying about.

  2. This is lovely writing. Sometimes I like to say “time is not linear,” because it isn’t in a literal sense. Time is actually eternal and far different then we perceive it to be. We have all the time in the world, and beyond the world too, to get done the things that need to get done. Sometimes shifting to that mindset really helps when I am having to delay things I want to do in favor of other things that take precedent. It’s kind of a paradox, life is short and yet those things that feed our soul are actually eternal, abundant, there is no stop watch running. Kids however, only last for a short while, so you can’t really blink or you’ll miss out.

    • One of my favorite comments from you. I do know we’ve been given the hours we need. I’m sure I’d wish for more if I had more! I appreciate the reminder that the reserve of the things we really need is plentiful. I’ve heard it said in raising children that the days are long but the years short (though it all feels super-short to me!).

      “Kids however, only last for a short while, so you can’t really blink or you’ll miss out.”
      Exactly. Which is what I was saying, that I am staring at him, not blinking, ha ha ha ha.

  3. There is always the tension between what our head tells us is the right way, and the reality of dealing with real life. Those without a faith model to work with are too often crushed under the loads life deals up to all. Those with faith still suffer in this life, but they have a hope that someday their challenges will end and they will have an eternity living in tranquil healthy happy peace. This gives joy even in sad times..

  4. Oh, to impart your heart like so! What sweet words! They soothed my soul, connected dots of joy and brought a smile through my tears… I read your words over and over again…
    D, you are a friend indeed, a gift from God! Thank you!!!

    • The other night, I spilled (chocolate) shake (plant-based) all over the carpeted stairs…at 11 pm. (Don’t ask why I was taking that up at that hour. A whole other story.) I looked down…to find I was drenched in shake from my neck down to my ankles (laughing now…was NOT then). The (tan) carpet was sAturated. There I was scrubbing peroxide and baking soda on the carpet at the close of an exhausting day. It was unreal. It turned out to be only the first of a series of completely unbelievable mishaps that ran the next three days – and all this while I was trying to tend to T’s injuries (and my own). I did not handle it too well!

  5. You write beautifully. I haven’t read you in a long time. I’m sorry about what you are going through. Life is insanity and happiness is for birds. They still sing every morning. Human life is one monstrous lump of pain. Good to read you again D.

    • Hello dear Peter. You’re familiar with Eeyore, Pooh Bear’s friend? I’m going to call you Eeyore in my mind from now on. =) (No offense. All affection.) I haven’t read or heard myself in a long time, either. I know life is supposed to be a happy insanity. I’m just trying to disentangle the happy from the rest, not doing a very good job. I appreciate hearing from you. Stay out of trouble. =)

      Xxx

  6. Sometimes life can feel too full. For me, being a parent has been the toughest journey and the most rewarding journey of my life. I am grateful that I got the chance. It is easy to have ridiculous expectations of ourselves and forget that no matter our good intentions we will forever be human beings. Human beings have thoughts and feelings that aren’t always kind, we make mistakes and drop things like milkshakes. The more compassionate you can be toward yourself, the more compassion your child will get to see in your actions. And someday he will be a kind 20 year old off at college and you will lay in bed smiling at the memories that the two of you share. Take care.

    • Ali, I love this every time, the reminder from you guys to stay more compassionate with myself. I like how you broke it down, and am encouraged to show my son more of this particular kindness as well. It’s a fine line I’ve not been very good at, as he’s at the age where we are pushing him to greater responsibility and ownership of things. Thanks so much for this gift today.

      Diana

  7. We plan: we imagine; we even dare to dream, but it all comes down to what the Lord has planned for us. It is for our training and growth of character. There is a saying in Texas, where I grew up, “She’s got the bull by the horns.” In my youth, I imagined I did, but as the years zipped by, I realized I did not. I wanted children, lots of children, but after four miscarriages, I realized those too are sent from the Lord. We plan and the Lord gives the disposing of those plans. He knows best, and the battle belongs to the Lord.

    • Beth, I seriously appreciate your sharing as you have. I know my theology, at least in the head. It’s a long road to the heart, isn’t it? I love the proverbs that speak of man’s plans within His, and how He directs even the heart of kings like a watercourse. So easy for Him. We strive, we purpose, we do do do, we fall, we’re late to our appointments, we find ourselves holding stillborn dreams, we weep, we trust.

      Thank you for the support this week. Keep shining.
      Diana

      • Ask yourself (when you spill that milkshake or a cup of tea), “What should I learn from this?”
        Don’t berate yourself because you made a mistake. BTW, mistakes are not sin. There is no law that says, “Thou shalt not spill a milkshake on the carpet in the middle of the night.” ❀

  8. Wishing peace and calm to come your way Diana. I know well of life’s curve balls this past year. And this past full moon with a mercury retrograde has created some extra havoc for many. This too shall pass! πŸ™‚ x

  9. Beautifully said. The hours sometimes pass really slowly, and then you realise the years have been flying … I look at my boys and think “when did you grow those long legs?” πŸ˜‰
    And sometimes, when I am getting impatient about their not-listening and constant bickering (brothers!!!) the thought suddenly strikes me how lucky we are, being able to be mad at such small things. I then have a strange tangle of gratefulness and guilt inside me, which only can be resolved by a big cuddle πŸ™‚ Luckily, they still like that.
    I wish you strength in the daily fight against all minor and major road blocks! Spring should be on its way, which always helps, don’t you thinks so?

    • “how lucky we are, being able to be mad at such small things.”

      Love this. I think this often in light of the international crises and many, so many, who are less fortunate than we are. And yes, it’s been too cold here in Southern CA! I am ready for the sun and the birds.

  10. Lovely piece of writing, D. Coming from the heart once again. We sure can’t have everything that we want. But we can certainly have this moment that we are living, this moment where we are at and feeling. Ain’t every moment previous. Hope things go well on the homefront πŸ™‚

  11. Good one, Diana. You were everyone’s mom when you wrote this, and I mean that in the most grateful, heartfelt way possible. You said things I really need to think about, lots of other people to, I’m sure.
    Every now and then I will write something I really like and that’s good. More than that, though, I get a real charge out of writing something that has a positive effect on the reader. I hope you do, too.

    • Aw, what a wonderful thing to hear, K. I’ve no idea how anything I write comes across. Objectivity is not possible – esp on the personal pieces – when you’re so IN IT. Thanks so much for the thoughtful, heartfelt encouragement. I’m glad we were able to redeem the madness that’s been my life!

  12. I think that I’m better at embracing each day as a friend filled with good wishes for all, even when my lemonade comes out a little too sour. As my son says, “Dad is all good” and I look at him and my two grandchildren and yes, it’s all good, somehow and in someway we can never understand, it’s all good.

  13. I believe that the vast majority of us do our best, in parenthood, in marriage and in work. Where we fall down is in self-assessment and concern for our own well-being. This becomes a sourc eof great difficulty, across relationships.

  14. Sorry your load has been so heavy lately. I’ve been wondering where you’ve been actually and so I was glad to see this post. Interesting what you write about the dark side of gifts that we may covet. It’s very true and bis a good reminder to remain grateful for the blessings we already have.

    Hope are peaceful days are in store for you soon. And that book deal too! πŸ˜‰

  15. Now what is this book?
    Hmmmmm….looking forward to more nuggets here. πŸ™‚
    By the way, we will have a short vacation in Japan….in 3 days in Seoul, SK. This early summer. I’ve never been to Asia so part of me hopes there will be no political /natural disaster instability.

    You expect so much of yourself…ease off from yourself and what society thinks.

    • That’ll be interesting. I look fwd to your update on Asia. Have no desire to go to Korea. They are crazy – crazier than I am. The most overworked country in the world, adults and kids (in school). Highest suicide rate, highest female infertility, and the men the greatest consumers of cosmetics (ewwww). There, I’ve rained on your parade, lol. Enjoy! Ha ha ha ha.

      I was just thinking I don’t know the concept of REST when you wrote.

      • “They are crazy – crazier than I am. The most overworked country in the world, adults and kids (in school). Highest suicide rate, highest female infertility, and the men the greatest consumers of cosmetics (ewwww). ”

        We’re just tourists. Clearly you have knowledge of some basics which we wouldn’t. Highest female infertility?? Must be various reasons for this..in South Korea. I think some of the Asian countries have some built 21st century mores/values when pushed to extreme, creates unhealthy people..psychologically.

  16. Ah, how I love to sift through the many beautiful images spread throughout your posts. Now that I’m on the downward side of that motherhood trip with two of my children already out of the house and the last one making college plans for the fall, I feel the weighty loss of a part of my personality for who am I if not mom? It terrifies me in a way that many other things have not. Absent the combo platter, I’ll have the Γ  la carte as well. oxo

    • I can’t imagine T making college plans. Oh, the sadness! (While I gripe about the unending indentured servitude, right?) Well, last I checked, there were still a few good combos on the menu. And you have your share of gifts to let fly when that nest empties.

      • It would be nice if somewhere in all the chaos you could press the pause button and get a few hours here and there for self-reflection and to do something other than laundry and meal-making, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. I envy my younger self with three young kids running around the same way my younger self envies me now with actual time to do a blog post. At least the menu has always had a lot of favorite dishes, eh? Thanks, Diana, for your ever eloquent insight. ox, pam

      • We don’t know what we have. It’s just that the homeschool puts a whole other spin to this. As administrator & main instructor at Holistic Academy, I can’t really chk out. I feel schizo, cherishing this stage where his mind is blooming with thoughtful questions, knowing he needs all of me, while looking over behind his shoulder at the mound of poem drafts on my desk.

      • I know I know I KNOW! I used to get up at 5 a.m. so I’d have time to work on my novel. It worked because it was super important to me although I was pretty sleep-deprived all the time.

      • You’re amazing. I can’t sacrifice the sleep anymore as I did to build this blog. I need the fuel (desperately) for the long haul. Am also out some days for classes he’s taking, when I’m not organizing and hosting them myself. It’s a blur. Well Pam, your time with your book is coming up fast.

  17. There is so much depth to this post, I am going to have to read it several times. Though I am not a mother, your words make me feel emotions as though I am one. You are brilliant, Diana and the gift you have with words is rare. All the best to you and your family. xo

    • Generous of you, Tanya. It is always my hope that everyone – in their own leg of the journey – can find something that resonates in every post. I am not writing just to mothers, for sure. I hope the drama that is your life is settling to sanity this first quarter of the play. April around the corner!

  18. It’s good to take a look within regularly, to see how we’ve coped with the past and confront our fears for the future. The past was a learning experience and the future a time to plan to do better. But there will never be a time when we can say we’ve reached our potential, it is always something to give us a reason to press forward and do our best.

  19. Hope you write more for your book and just write lots in general. T is growing up to become a big boy…he will go away and come back and go away, etc.

    • I don’t want the sorrow of regret over holes I could’ve filled, things I could’ve done for him. Just got in from a mom-son night out. He absolutely loved the (expensive) show we saw. And I agree. Boy doesn’t know how good he has it.

      In any case, I think when he flies the nest, you guys will either get a lot of me or none at all if I do disappear into the mountains to read and write to my heart’s content. =) Thanks, Jean.

      Xxxx

  20. Incredible prose once again D., wonderful read, and leaves so much to think about. The splendor of life comes in many different varieties, and yet we often believe we are living in one that is not suitable for us. Only through the passage of time, strength, and love do we begin to see how what we’ve always wished for is right out there in front of us. Through the light and darkness within us all, we all have burdens to carry and that is part of the magic. Wishing you a great start to the spring, renewal, and happiness πŸ™‚

    • Hello, friend. Was thinking about you. Checked in to see if you’d posted.

      “yet we often believe we are living in one that is not suitable for us”. I think we should all pull an RC and create fresh options for ourselves. Hope it’s been good things that have kept you from us.

      • Ha, ha ~ I like the idea of pulling an RC, I think I do it subconsciously every spring. The renewed life around us. The sunshine a bit stronger and songs/colors of nature letting us know it is the time to reach out and do something new πŸ™‚ So nice to touch with you again, wish you well.

  21. It took awhile get your blog. Sometimes the days by so fast and are so overfull that some things pushed down below line while try keep our heads above water. With life comes wisdom. I know began understand myself better. I learned there still so much life live. I’m glad went back looked up. I’ll back again.

  22. “You’ve got this” is something I say to God a lot. Or, more like: “You damn well better have this because I give up today.” And yet. We both do our thing, right? And our little human people are becoming big human people. Sending hugs.

  23. “But I am reminded that we all limp. And joy can be found in all things.”
    I feel this to be very true. Thank you for writing about it, Diana.

      • I find there is a lot of wisdom in your writing, Diana. You understand how traumatic a miscarriage can be and how the elderly can become a bit like children in not being able to completely look after themselves anymore. Thank you for writing about all th

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