Wednesday, January 6

Life Can Be Hard AND Good

A tea party with Scarlet and Shelby, their dolls
I dismissed the crying when I first heard it. I had just finished laying Ashlyn down for the night, and figured I'd give our 9-month-old a moment to calm down before intervening.

But after a minute, I realized that it wasn't her, after all. Leaving the office, I hurried to my older girls' room and found 4-year-old Noelle huddled in her small bed, coughing and crying inconsolably. Hearing the barky seal cough characteristic of croup, I felt dread even as I brushed aside my husband's worried exclamations and headed to the bathroom to turn on the shower. Gathering her in my arms, I carried Noelle into the bathroom and sat on the edge of the tub, rocking her gently. After a few minutes, when she failed to improve and seemed panicky about breathing, we decided that Tim would bring her in to the hospital to get checked out.

It was an unexpected twist to our night yet, on its own, it wouldn't have been that memorable. It was only afterward, when things fell apart, that I started to feel exasperated with life:

- Tim backed into the car that was in our driveway while on his way to the hospital, denting our bumper and scratching the car.
- After Noelle and Tim finally arrived home close to midnight, I headed to bed only to have the baby wake up twice more, sick with a nasty cold.
- My computer died the next morning. As in, kaput.
- Headed to Nashville for business that day, Tim's bag didn't make it to his destination.

Reflecting on the maxim of "when it rains, it pours," I wondered why it always seems that bad things happen all at once. As I said goodbye to Tim on his way to the airport on Sunday morning, I felt a soul-deep tiredness -- the feeling that, at least for the moment, life kind of sucked. And I'll be honest, I wanted to WALLOW in it. I wanted to complain. I wanted to disappear from my life, let my children fend for themselves. I wanted someone else to be the adult for me, to cook dinner and wash little hands and rock my teething baby and pick up endless Barbie clothes. But I've found that even when it's just ONE hard thing, that thing often distracts us from the good things that far outnumber the bad. Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking, "If only this one hard thing in my life were gone, things would be better" -- but I've found that if it's not a health issue, it's a financial worry. Or a work concern. Or a marriage issue. Or a parenting problem.

Abraham Lincoln once said, "If you look for the bad in people, you will surely find it." It's easy to let the negative parts of life become our focus.

And yet -- I don't want to be that person. I want to see the good. I want to focus on the fact that even with a dead computer and sick kids and a frustrated husband, yesterday ended up being a dang good day. The girls and I had a tea party with their dollies, turned the dining room table into a Polly Pocket village, and ate rainbow cereal for supper.

Because at the end of the day, all those little worries are just that: Minor inconveniences. We live in a warm home, free from fear. We have food to eat and clothes to wear. The truth is that life can be hard AND good. And for that, I'm grateful.


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