A lesson in finding the blessing in the muck

High five for the blessing of a messy life. Behind the broken raspberries, there are five healthy fingers.

High five for the blessing of a messy life. Behind the broken raspberries, there are four healthy fingers.

Oh my peas, I have a cold. And I’m tuckered out. Everyone in my house has a cold, so until they’re healthy, mama marches on as usual. I’m coming off a week of temporary solo parenting while the man was at a conference and he came back sick and tired and in need of rest, too. Which means I got no rest last weekend. And this week has been a bear. (are you crying for me yet?)

The work deadlines have been bumpier than most weeks. I’m coughing a lot. My youngest squished these gelatinous Halloween eyeballs into a thousand jiggly crumbs on the living room carpet such that I had to jack the vacuum up and down to catch all the pieces like I was playing Hungry, Hungry Hippos. The dogs nudged the lid off the bathroom trashcan and dispersed its contents all over the floors of my office and bedroom. Brian’s artisanal breakfast sausage habit has reached a crescendo and now everything in my closet smells like his morning feast. Obviously, this is a sampling of the more trivial stuff.

Without going into detail about the bigger issues, everything and everyone coming at me was making withdrawals from my energetic bank account.

I vented a little when my next-door neighbor, Gwen, who we drive to work in the morning on our way to school, asked me how I was doing. I was fully expecting woman-to-woman empathy. Instead, she had a little something to teach me:

“You’ve got to be thankful for the messes because it means you’ve got wonderful little children. Right, boys?” she called in her booming voice, laughing, toward the back seat.

(insert record screech) What? I was looking for some sympathy. I’m here feeling burdened by life, you know…

“You got to thank God for the dishes because He gave you food. You be thankful for the laundry because it means you have clothes. Be thankful for Brian being out of town because it means he’s got a job and takes care of your family,” she said. “He makes a mess? Say, ‘Thank you, God, for giving me a great man who’s home with me.’ You got to say thank you to God for these things.”

Charlie announced my tears as soon as they sprung. “Oh, Mommy. I know you’re crying now,” he sounded amused. “Ok, well it looks like you’re crying for happy. So why are you crying?”

Gwen just smiled out the window. Gwen, the one who spends five days a week working in an assisted-living facility playing games with and caring mostly for mentally ill adults and her nights playing nurse to her husband, a stroke-victim who used to direct traffic in the Loop, serve as the neighborhood watch for our street and listen to jazz on his front porch when he retired. Now he calls to her at all hours of the night and she goes, she helps him and she thanks God for it. She yearns for a break, a vacation, some time for herself but, amid it all, she’s still grateful for what is.

I hesitate to name call, but what an out-of-touch diva I can be!

I face messes and other challenges because I have three affectionate, devoted, protective, hilariously quirky dogs; two brilliant, inventive, boisterous, physically strong little boys; and one luminous, soulful, powerful, inexplicably adoring husband. I have a cold because I’ve been out in the world touching a thousand different experiences and drinking in life as it comes.

Ok, ok. I get it, Gwen. And thank you for helping me see through a different lens. When in the swirl, it is helpful remember the source of it. Chances are, it’s a blessing.

One thought on “A lesson in finding the blessing in the muck

  1. Emily, it’s been a long time since high school! I just love this post and the reminder to be thankful for all of life’s blessing. What a wonderful and beautiful way to approach our petceived frustrations. Thank you!

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