The Great Dichotomy

If she tells you she wishes her car got better gas mileage, that doesn’t mean she wishes she’d never learned to drive.

If she tells you she didn’t like the middle of the book, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth reading.

If she tells you she doesn’t love her job, that doesn’t mean she won’t come back tomorrow.

If she tells you she needs a few hours by herself, that doesn’t mean she’s not committed to her family.

If she tells you today was hard, that doesn’t mean there was nothing to smile about.

If she tells you she’s tired, it doesn’t mean she’ll never find rest.

If she tells you this is harder than she thought, it doesn’t mean she’s done.

If she tells you she doesn’t love the tasks, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t love the role.

Sometimes it just means what it means.

…if we are honest with ourselves, there are things we might say, if only we could be sure they would land safely apart from the thoughts that surround them.

The thoughts inside a woman’s head are one tangled mass of cooked spaghetti. The noodles wrap all around one another, and it’s tricky to pull one long strand from the bowl without getting lumps of marinara on the placemat. Everything connects to something else. It’s hard to set boundaries, boxes, or even perforated lines around the things we think and feel, because we don’t usually think and feel in a linear, organized fashion.

So, if we are honest with ourselves, there are things we might say, if only we could be sure they would land safely apart from the thoughts that surround them.

I don’t love doing laundry; I will, however, make sure my children have clean clothes to wear.

I’m not always good at forgiving myself; I can easily share grace to others.

I’m utterly exhausted; I do not wish someone else had rocked my sick baby during the night.

I don’t love the tasks of motherhood; I dearly love being a mom.

I need a break; this doesn’t mean I want out.

Those get tangled and messy, and when a woman says, “This is harder than I thought,” she follows it up, with her hand on your arm, saying, “I love my children. I do. I love my children. I do. I love them. Know that I do.”

Because saying that we don’t love serving someone else every minute of everyday is dangerously close to saying we don’t love them every millisecond in between.

And we do. Know that we do.

It just gets messy sometimes. The laundry, the dishes, the tasks, the spaghetti, and the thoughts.

I think we could all breathe a little easier if we just let ourselves say it sometimes.

It’s harder than I thought it would be.

(But I love them. I do.)

Previously published in Teaching Tuck and Ty, November 21, 2010.

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9 thoughts on “The Great Dichotomy

  1. So,so good! Greg sent it to all the young moms we love in our life. So look forward to meeting you tomorrow… reading your story to catch up, lump in my throat. What a gift you have… Blessings and hugs, Becky Johnson

  2. This is awesome. I want to be an honest person, lately to a fault. When someone asks me how having 4 kids is: I say, harder than I thought. When someone asks about homeschooling 4 kids: I say, harder than I thought. When someone asks about living in a “fixer-upper” that hasn’t seen much fixin’ lately: I say, harder than I thought.

    The list goes on….for heavens sake, sometimes being a woman is harder than I thought, being a person is harder than I thought. Burying my children is every bit as hard as my nightmares told me it would be, plus some. Loving God through it all, impossible without his daily sustaining mercies.

  3. Right on! Being honest feels good, as long as the person listening doesn’t judge. Sometimes I think being honest with myself (and not judging those honest feelings) is the most difficult part. Thanks for this thought today!

  4. This is perfect.

    Right now, I need a break from being Mommy. I’ve forgotten how to be anything else.

    Your words are just perfect.

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