Being a Mom is hard.
I'm seven years into this gig, currently homeschooling four little kids age seven and under and quite often not talking to another adult until the afternoon (on a good day) or the evening when my husband gets home. I also happen to be an extreme extrovert and most days it feels hard.
The primary mode of communication around here is very transactional:
You want a banana? I'm sorry, when you asked for an apple, I assumed you wanted an APPLE.
Please stop running your bike into the garage door.
No, sorry I don't want to read any more books right now.
No, you cannot eat your sandwich in the bathroom.
Your brother hit you? Work it out.
What do you mean you want grapes? You just asked for a banana!
There's about a 30 minute window each day, usually right around lunch time, when my brain, which supposedly thrives on multitasking and being with people, maxes out and starts to misfire.
When quiet time arrives (less quiet these days than it used to be, but at least the toddler is napping and the others know they need to self-entertain) my brain-dead brain just wants to space out. But it also craves adult interaction and friendship and community. So instead of picking up a novel or taking a nap, I'll find myself hidden in a corner (or as of this week, in the pantry...eating their Halloween candy...) scrolling.
And it scratches the itch. I see smiling faces of friends I know and love. I read the inspiring caption of a blogger I admire, appreciate the beauty of another adult's creative pursuits, read their words, encourage them with a quick comment.
But it's a 2D substitute for the flesh and spirit I'm really craving.
The other day I asked my sister (somewhat ironically, but mostly completely seriously) "how do I make friends?" She deadpanned back, "I think you have to leave your house."
Hmm. Leaving my house is a complicated proposition at best, made less-appealing by the fact that I'm supposed to spend my day educating these children rather than in search of friendship.
I grew up in the 80s and 90s, the era when self-esteem was all the rage. Those decades when coaches started giving us all a trophy for showing up and teachers stopped using red pen to correct essays lest we felt our work wasn't as good as everyone else's.
Somewhere in my formative years I internalized the message that things ought to come easily to me. And if something didn't, I ought to put it down and go find something that did come easily. In high school and college this was easy enough. I dropped classes, dropped relationships, dropped sports, dropped after-school clubs. As adults we operate in a society where it's easy to quit a job, end a pregnancy or leave a marriage that is difficult. I have to fight my innate desire to drop things that aren't easy.
I'm lonely these days. And lonely feels embarrassing and a little pathetic. As someone who is 99% extroverted, lonely is basically my worst nightmare. Lonely is hard.
Friends are difficult to make and friendship is difficult to maintain in this season. It feels really hard some days. But as I teach my kids each day, I'm discovering along the way that maybe hard is okay.
Hard doesn't mean you're doing something wrong.
Hard doesn't mean you need to quit.
Hard doesn't mean you made a bad decision, you're a failure or that you need to seek an out.
Every now and then hard is an indication that you are being pig-headed about whatever it is or truly doing something wrong, but sometimes life is hard. Seasons are difficult. And there are untold lessons to be learned in the persevering.
Homeschooling could be difficult because it's not the right season or the right thing at all for our family. Next year I may have three kids in the public school across the street. And I pray for wisdom and the discernment to make that change if we need to.
But then again, it could be that this feels hard because it is hard. And maybe, just maybe, hard is okay sometimes.