Last night, I stepped into the bathroom, shut the door, put my head in my hands, and unleashed the loudest silent scream I could muster.
What had led to this private tantrum, you might ask?
It was nothing in particular, actually, just a typical harried day filled with too much whining and too many tantrums, too much to do and too little time in which to do it all. At the end of the day, I felt breathless, exhausted, and drained. I had grown tired of breaking up fights and of the constant noise. As I feverishly tried to scrub marker stains off the furniture in preparation for the bookclub meeting I was hosting later in the night, one of the kids started whining (again!) about some minor indiscretion his brother had committed. The whining and crying grew louder and louder, and the house seemed to grow smaller and smaller.
All I could see were the messes and clutter, the stained furniture, the mismatched and watermarked wine glasses, the off kilter photos on the wall. All I could hear was the annoying buzz of whining and tantrums, like a million fingernails scratching on a chalkboard. All I could think about was what should have gotten done that day, how my house should look, how my kids should acting, how I should be.
The should’s continued to bubble, until I reached a breaking point and sought refuge in the only place I could think of to get away – the bathroom. I let out a few silent screams into my hands, dropped a couple f-bombs, and maybe even shed a few tears.
Truthfully, I was as angry with myself as much as anyone. Why was I letting myself get so upset? Why was I letting a little whining and clutter get me so flustered? And why in the world was I so concerned about a few marker stains on the furniture?
After a few minutes, I stepped out of the bathroom and looked around. The messes were all still there. In fact, more messes had been made while the boys conducted “science experiments” in the middle of the kitchen floor. The house was still a loud mixture of whining, tantrums, laughter, and dogs barking. Marker stains were still on the furniture. The wine glasses still had water spots and didn’t match.
But, in that moment, I realized that this is my life – loud, unpredictable, messy, and mismatched. And, as much as it might not always conform to the should’s, I wouldn’t want it to be any other way. Why was I trying to turn it into something other than what it is? Why was I trying to pretend that it is something that it is not?
There is much that I don’t know and much that I have yet to learn, but I know this much to be true: Life isn’t a highlight reel, and Home isn’t a Pottery Barn catalog.
I know this; really, I do. But sometimes knowing a truth and living a truth are two very different things. Admittedly, I am still working on living this truth even though I absolutely know this truth deep in my core and with every fiber of my being.
But I’m trying to live what I know.
I am trying to stop focusing on what should be, and more on what is and what can be. I am trying to stop pretending that life should be a merry-go-round, that it is anything other than a roller coaster of highs and lows, laughter and tears, highlights and outtakes. And I am trying to stop perpetuating the illusion that a home should look like a glossy magazine cover, that it is anything other than a sanctuary of comfortable chaos.
I am trying to care less about marker stains and messes, and more about having adventures and creating memories. Less about predictability, and more about flexibility. Less about all the insignificant things that might be going wrong, and more about all the important things that are going so very right.
I am trying to live what I know.
The truth is that life isn’t always smooth and predictable, with clean lines and easy plans; it is often messy and chaotic, loud and frustrating. I am trying to live this truth, as much as I know it.
Sometimes I fail miserably in a heap of tears and silent screams in the bathroom.
But I am trying to live what I know.
And sometimes, sometimes, I’m actually able to take a deep breath, shrug my shoulders at the stained furniture, marvel at the energy inside the tantrums, and appreciate the beauty within all the clutter and noise.
And that is definitely something worth celebrating – preferably with some wine in one of my mismatched, water-spotted wineglasses.
Do you think living the truth is harder than knowing the truth?
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