It sounds like it should be a metaphor for something, but in reality it’s just my favorite craft supply. Me and my mayo jar of jewels, making our way through life.
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Most of the time I don’t think about being joyful. I think about making it through the work day or getting the kitchen cleaned and my daughter tucked in. The daily grind can really wear me down. That’s the thing about the daily grind- it’s daily and it’s grinding! I realized that joy is something that I have to actively seek; it doesn’t just happen. I have many happy moments during the day, but true joy from the Lord is hard to grasp and even harder to keep, at least for me.
In my life, happiness or enjoyment is more of a surface level feeling, fleeting and usually based on circumstances. But joy is deeper and much longer lasting. I imagine it to be like a deep well within me. Because the Lord dwells in my heart I have a limitless supply of joy that I can always draw from. Even in times of heartache or difficulty, I can have the joy of the Lord at my core. The mental image of a deep well of joy reminds of the old song, “I’ve got a river of life”
Spring up, oh well
Within my soul
Spring up, oh well
And make me whole
Spring up, oh well
And give to me
That life abundantly!
I want to be whole, full of joy, and plugged into the joy of the Lord. Jesus said that is why he came, that I may have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Sounds great- who doesn’t want to live a better life, right? But how do I get from the daily grind to joyful, abundant life? I prayed for an answer and the Lord brought a clear thought to my mind. “Seek my face.” For long lasting joy I need to take pleasure in what the Lord provides, not what our world offers. I need to let the things that make Him happy make me happy.
“For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.” Psalm 92:4 (ESV)
My prayer for today:
Dear Lord, help me to be mindful of what you have created for my joy here on earth. Guide my focus to what you have said is good and away from the pleasures the world provides. Give me peace and fill my spirit with joy when I get caught up in the busyness of life. Thank you for giving me desires that cause me to seek out joy and the ability to be satisfied in you. Let your joy fill me and pour out to others as I interact with them today. Amen.
I resisted the idea of being a mom for many reasons; poop, snot, the alien pod-like idea of growing another being inside you, etc. But I never worried about mom jeans because I planned to be a cool mom. I had a great example in my mom, even though I did spend most of my teenage years making her life almost unbearable. She was always very fashion forward, even in her agony. For example, we shared a pair of lace up leather boots when I was in middle school and I have photographic evidence of her rocking many facets of the big hair that defined the 80s and 90s. So you can imagine my surprise this morning when I realized I was wearing mom jeans. My mom doesn’t even wear mom jeans. And since I was at work, I couldn’t even change clothes.
I am sure you are frightened and worried that someone as cool as me (example 1: hipster glasses, example 2: I know what steampunk is) is wearing ill-fitting jeans. “But Kate”, you are saying, “how did this happen? Is it catching? And most importantly, why should I care?” You should care, my fellow moms, because it can happen to you. Let me guide you through the inevitable slide (or wiggle as it were) into mom jeans.
Step 1: Early pregnancy: “yeah, but I am not going to let myself go just because I am pregnant. I mean my jeans still look great, I’ll just wear a belly band and regular clothes.”
Step 2: Mid pregnancy: “Wow-these stretchy maternity panel jeans feel awesome. They are like yoga pants with jean legs! I’ll take two pairs; they’ll look great with tunics, right?”
Step 3: Late pregnancy: I can’t leave the house because I refuse to wear pants anymore. “Do you think I can snag some of those gowns from my OBs office at my next visit? Dr. Marks always makes me feel like I look beautiful in them.”
Step 4: Post birth: Still no pants, now no shirt from constant nursing and pumping. “You guys are lucky I have on underwear. Yes, they are my husband’s briefs. He’s just lucky I am letting him live.”
Step 5: Six week check-up: Terrified by the thought of a metal zipper being near my c-section incision, I gratefully slip into those stretchy maternity jeans. Strangely, they still fit quite well- no worries, “breast-feeding is even harder than being pregnant, so it has to burn like a million calories, right?”
Step 6: Night before one year birthday party: “Oh my freakin’ God! I cannot wear my maternity jeans to the party tomorrow!” I try on every pair of pants in my closet, most only make it to my upper thighs, I few pairs come within 3 to 4 inches of zipping. It’s 10 pm and no cool stores are open. I decide that K-mart is better than Wal-Mart (Jacqueline Smith!) and head to the jeans section. If a dark wash is slimming then black will be even better, right? I buy two sizes up from my pre-pregnancy size in the cheapest style available (no way am I paying any extra money for something this depressing) and head to the check out. I try them on at home; they fit on my body and are mostly comfortable. Done and done.
So I have been wearing these black denim mom jeans for a while now. How did I just realize that they look terrible? I have stopped looking at myself in the mirror. I look at my hair, or my teeth, a pimple, or a weird-shaped bruise on my butt that I don’t remember getting. But looking at my whole body in the mirror- post marriage, post baby, post 28? No thanks.
Today when leaving the toilet stall, I caught a glimpse of my mom jeaned butt in the mirror as I was leaving the restroom. Yikes- is that me!? Maybe I need to go one of those make over shows. Like the ones that say, “Let’s have a Mom-versation, ladies. You need to take make time for yourself. Have a mom playdate at the spa!” Sounds like fun, but I have spent all my money buying clothes for Piper. Seriously, if you have seen her in a pair of sparkly pink jeggings with a leopard print top, you know it was worth every penny.
I am wearing my husband’s underwear today. Not to be sexy, that’s for sure. Is there anything less sexy than worn out, once-white briefs? There are a few old grayish pairs that don’t fit him anymore and sometimes when we are at the last of the clean laundry pile*, I will wear them. They are actually pretty comfy, and when I wear them I am always struck anew at how comfort and glamour rarely seem to coexist.
I try to add more glamour to my everyday life but usually settle for comfort and a handy excuse. Sure a silk nightgown is very glamorous, but this old college shirt is just way more my speed for lounging around with a cup of Lemon Zinger. But here’s the thing about glamour, it slithers up your body and gets tangled around your neck in the night leaving you cold and claustrophobic. Or maybe that’s just silk nightgowns. Right, the thing about glamour is that it is mostly in the perception, not in the action. I wonder if anyone really feels glamorous consistently. I am sure it is easy to feel on top of the world on your wedding day, at the Oscars, or the morning after you pay someone to clean your house, but day to day glamour is kind of an oxymoron.
Life is about the dirty work, the nitty gritty, the daily grind. There is certainly a sense of completion and satisfaction when you find the exact right shade of lipstick, but it is a different from the satisfaction you feel when you have blisters on your hands from planting a new flower bed. (Although, now that I am thinking about it, planting a flower bed isn’t exactly life changing. Can you get blisters from serving soup at a homeless shelter or something?) I was just trying to remember a type of physical labor that I had actually done.
I have stopped striving for glamour or the happily ever after. Real life is messy and hard and many times spectacularly unsatisfying, even more so when we have idealistic expectations. I am trying to be satisfied with the right shade of lipstick and the fancy feeling I have when I take time to put it on.
*That’s right, even our clean laundry is in a pile. At this point I am just glad that is clean.
I have been reading some of my old blog posts and I am shocked how by bad things were going. I was really depressed, frighteningly so, but some of my best writing came out of that hard time. I have unmired myself from many of those issues, so I haven’t felt the pressing need to write myself out like I did then. But I have been missing the writing and the catharsis of self expression.
So- I am making a new blog solely focused on my writing. Certainly, motherhood, marriage, depression and other topics will come into play again but they won’t be the focus. I think I will tweak some of my earlier writing and blog posts and add them here after they are cleaned up, but I want this blog to be organized and representative of my creative self. I am working towards becoming a writer that actually writes. I am less of a tortured artist, but hopefully not totally devoid of talent. Thanks for joining me on the journey.