I used to feel that, where we are right now… Something’s got to change. Like It just isn’t healthy for our family, for our marriage, for our bodies both mentally and physically. Yet I’m at a loss. I’ve read hundreds of articles on working mom solutions and their advice is terrible because most of them are helpful in a situation where the family has enough money to hire a nanny or cleaning help, or a family who has other family members who help them out. We aren’t in either of those scenarios.
Through this hard time I’ve learned that sometimes life just stinks, and you have to pull up your pantyhose and keep on going despite how crummy your situation is. And you have to find a reason to smile.
I work a lot. I mean, a lot. I have a full-time job at a school, 9-10 hours a day with up to 3 hours of commuting, plus a part-time job on the side. John works nights and goes to school. And in spite of that we’re barely hanging on to the apartment that houses the six of us, we drive old paid-off cars, and we never eat out or go places that cost money.
A month ago I was miserable. I cried almost every day and I said all sorts of nasty things when my alarm went off at 4 a.m. I hated how unhappy I was and I wanted so desperately to change the way things were. I prayed about it and begged God to either change my situation or change the way I saw it, and give me joy in spite of the crummy circumstances. I was really counting on Him changing our lives. Maybe He could provide some financial relief, a new job that pays better, or somehow make it so we didn’t all have to stretch ourselves so thin. But none of those things happened.
I also asked for joy. I didn’t want to just be happy, because happiness is a temporary, fleeting feeling that I had sought after in the past with no lasting results. I wanted JOY, joy that would permeate my being .
I didn’t get a better-paying job but I have learned to be content with where I am now by finding pleasure in the small things. Like Wednesday, when there were 3 small birds in the tree just outside my classroom, and somehow their lighthearted chirping lifted my spirits. Another time I was on recess duty (because we supervise our lunches and recesses, which means little to no breaks during the workday). Just a few weeks ago I would have been blinded by the unfairness of having a job without breaks, but on that particular day I was instead fascinated by the green clumps of clovers that grew in the field where the children play. They were so beautiful and each with its own unique leaf pattern. The beauty of the world we live in totally took my mind off of thinking negative thoughts. There have been so many of these instances lately when my natural tendencies would be to stew in my unhappiness, but what actually happened was I found a reason to smile and that smile stuck with me the rest of the day.
I was so hoping that our situation would change. I even went on an interview for what seemed like the perfect job, but in the end I didn’t get it. So now I’m coming to grips with the reality that this is just how our life is going to be for a while. In the grand scheme of things, this is a tiny segment in the timeline of our lives. We can make it through. And, can I really feel sorry for myself when there are so many people in the world who are struggling with health issues, or living in utter poverty or in a war-torn country? When you put things in perspective, having a heavy workload is such a first-world problem.
I find new reasons to smile every day, and they keep me going when times are tough. Life is too short to waste a beautiful day brooding in self-pity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely going to keep praying for some relief. But in the meanwhile I’ll stay on the lookout for more joy in the unexpected.