My blessings

My husband works in show biz.

For five years–the biz equivalent of several back to back ultra marathons–he worked on the same popular sitcom. I got used to the rhythms of that show.

The one with that couch

The one with that couch. Yeah, that one.

In the year and a half since he left that show, he’s worked on more than a half dozen projects. Some have been shows I watch, others ones I would watch only if my son had earned double privileges for doing good work. Regardless of how I feel about any one of them, I’m grateful for them all. Each has played its own role in moving my husband closer to fulfilling his career dreams.

It would be a lie to say I’m only grateful. Many days, I’m challenged by the unpredictability of show biz workdays. Some days begin at 4 a.m.; sometimes those same days end after my son and I are in bed. There’s no telling until a day’s work is winding down just how long it will be.

The work and commute portion of my own days is almost twelve hours. At seven months pregnant, this is physically and emotionally brutal. Add in the fact my work doesn’t end because I step through the door and there is the truth: Most days I am so tired I could cry, but I have to keep going because that is the only way things will get done.

The last few months have been especially difficult. Before his current show, my husband always worked shows that filmed in the middle of the week. His long days were the day just before live audience day–preshoot day–and live audience day, followed by a couple of shorter days to wind down the week. I’d lose out on his presence early in the week when I still had some energy, but I’d see him and benefit from his presence most when I was tiredest late in the week.

His current show’s live audience day is Friday. Friday! This means that as I get more exhausted with each passing weekday, I must also face the inevitability of flying solo Thursday and Friday. I will not see my husband these evenings, and already short weekends together will feel so much shorter in the absence of these couple of hours to get to say, together, “Whew. We made it through another week! Hurrah, weekend!”

When my son and I awaken early each Saturday, my husband has only been home a few hours. Even so, he gets up groggy and joins us to play. He says, “I’m glad you worked as an extra, so you get what these days are like.”

monster run

“Were you running away from the monster, Mama?”

All of it’s a gift. It is. And yet, the gifts don’t undo the truth of my exhaustion. Sparkly silver linings don’t change the fact rain is falling.

I’ve been thinking about this since reading “Thoughts on Parenting, Single or Otherwise” yesterday. I know how much harder life could be, having witnessed my mom’s struggles as a poor single mother of four. I also know that the fact life could be harder doesn’t mean the hardness I face now is trivial, or the basis of anyone’s right to say, “But it could be so much worse!”

What I know about the human spirit is this: It can take worse. It can take much worse, and do so with astonishing amounts of love and grace. “Worse” can become the new normal, with each day another test of hope that tomorrow might be better.

Someday, it will be worse for me than it is right now, and I will most likely get through that, too.

Quite frankly, knowing that intellectually doesn’t really make it easier getting through today.

Oftentimes my mom would say, “They don’t understand my pain!” She would belabor how much greater was her pain than anyone else’s, which made me quite testy no matter how much I loved her.

“How can you know your pain is greater if you don’t even bother listening to what anyone else is suffering? Everyone is suffering something. Everyone! But you’ll never see that if it’s always a competition.”

I don’t want to compete in the who’s-suffering-worse Olympics. Not ever.

I want to live in a way that reflects my understanding that most life encompasses joy and pain, and that these balances can be dramatically altered for any one person in any single moment. Today’s comparative harmony could be shattered by another person’s poor driving, a diagnosis, a pink slip. I’d pick up the pieces the best I could, and adapt to a different kind of hardship that could still not negate those that came before.

My life is full of blessings: a loving husband, a compassionate son, a baby on the way, siblings whose support remains a bedrock of my strength, true friends, a fantastic management team, this amazing blogging community, financial stability my mom only dreamed of, food and shelter and warmth and dryness, strong legs that can’t wait to run again, and time and fortitude to sit and be with my thoughts.

Not even here and already tired!

Not even here and already tired!

My life is full of blessings, ones that remind me life is too complex to be boiled down to any one measure, be it suffering, elation or uncertainty.

Life is better embraced for all it is, ups and downs, and armed with the knowledge that everyone faces her own triumphs and battles. I don’t want mine to be better or worse, bigger or smaller, more or less important. I want to recognize my own experiences and others’.

For now, I simultaneously endure exhaustion and count my blessings.

Today is another live show day, but it’s the last Friday show day my husband will work for some time. I’ll go to bed beat, no doubt. But I’ll awaken to family play time tomorrow all the same, exhausted and elated all at once.

Through the truth of these feelings, I will hold tight to still another truth: My life is not yours, but the struggles of mine don’t conceal from me the struggles of yours.

I see you. I hear you. I feel you.

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  1. January 31, 2014 at 6:08 am

    I loved this post, Deb, but especailly these words: “How can you know your pain is greater if you don’t even bother listening to what anyone else is suffering? Everyone is suffering something. Everyone! But you’ll never see that if it’s always a competition.” Lil’D is lucky to have you guiding him; the lessons that you will instill upon him will only make this world a better place, day by day. When we remove the competition and replace it with listening, we will become a more empathetic society. Great post, as always!! 🙂

    • February 1, 2014 at 7:23 am

      Thank you, Carol! I sometimes find myself sharing experiences in response to others explaining theirs, but I try to clarify that’s my thinking our loud as I try to step into feeling what that might feel like. Even so, I am trying to get away from that, into the hearing without the comparing. I used to be embarrassed that I didn’t know it all implicitly, but now it feels like a hopeful thing–more to learn, and see more clearly! I am so glad to be learning in such lovely company. ♥

  2. January 31, 2014 at 6:59 am

    I loved the comment you left on my blog post, and I love the thoughts you’ve shared here as well. Life is so often what we choose to make of it. Grateful that I found your words through mine. ❤

  3. January 31, 2014 at 7:27 am

    It’s a constant struggle for me, Deb. I remind myself how truly, powerfully blessed I am and how grateful I should be…I MUST be. That my problems are so trivial compared to the burdens that others carry. But the fact is, that my burdens ARE my burdens, so they aren’t trivial to me…they’re all too real.

    I guess the best we can do is to try to find that balance – eternal gratitude tempered by the occasional pity party.

    • February 1, 2014 at 7:31 am

      They are your burdens, and burdens can’t be undone by blessings. I used to try to point out the silver linings in every circumstance, but I realized that was more damaging than helpful.

      A friend lost his mom recently and expressed his sadness. He got a few “chin up” and “could be worse” comments that just made me ache. Things like that souns to me like “your sadness is inconvenient to me.” Sadness will transform to something else in its own time, not because of passing comments.

      I have thought of you often the last few months, though my thought that I’ll send you an email tomorrow hasn’t yet resulted in an actual email. D’oh. Email or not, I send much love.

  4. January 31, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I love this post because I can definitely relate to your suffering being competition for someone else’s and who wins the worst award, my mom always made it into a competition. I try and have an outlook like yours, I am aware of everyone’s experiences and how different they can be from mine, and that I can never know what’s going on in someone’s head or in their life for that matter. I just try to take the blessings I have and hold onto them real tight when it feels like it is just really getting difficult for me in life and what’s going on.

    • February 1, 2014 at 7:40 am

      Sometimes when I find myself getting grumpy I wonder what must be going in someone’s life. It’s hard to keep feeling grumpy in that case. One particular person it’s easy for me to imagine with cartoon horns and fangs recently made a sad remark about something outside what we usually talk about. Instantaneously, the imagined horns and fangs disappeared. That was a great reminder for me. I hope someday it will be second nature in even the most challenging situations, but for now . . . I am happy to be getting closer, and in such loving company.

  5. January 31, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Such a timely post for me to read this week, Deb. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being YOU. The older I get, the more I realize that no one can ever escape the pain in life that comes with simply being alive — we will all suffer loss and burdens in one form or another eventually. Hopefully we’ll learn from them and grow to appreciate our lessons.

    • February 1, 2014 at 7:44 am

      Amen! Sometimes I wish I could learn a little quicker, but I’m glad to be learning what I am. Even if sometimes I have “aha!” moments and then look back to realize I had the foundation for the wisdom years or even decades before. I guess that reminds me to laugh at myself, which is good for keeping me from taking myself too seriously, or getting angry a la your (I think?) last post. 🙂

  6. January 31, 2014 at 9:58 am

    I love, love, love, love, and LOVE, this post!!!!! I love it so because it is 1.beautifully and poignantly written, and 2. because you get a across a point that so many miss. Comparing our trials to others’ trials, competing in the “whose suffering worse Olympics” as you put it (this line rocks) is frivolous and without merit. It does nothing to change how we feel or how anyone else feels. If I feel miserable, does knowing that you might feel worse make me feel better? No way. Can’t compare apples to oranges, as they completely different fruits! Hang in there, Deb. Being pregnant, working, taking care of a little one….it’s a lot….so take time out whenever you can, and be gentle to yourself. XOXO-Kasey

    • February 6, 2014 at 5:50 am

      It does nothing to change how we feel or how anyone else feels. If I feel miserable, does knowing that you might feel worse make me feel better? No way.
      This is what I’d like to put on cards and hand out when any conversation starts going into the suffering competition zone–exactly what you have said here!

      I’m trying to take time out, but it’s hard. When I stop moving, I have this sense there are 18 other things I should be doing. About the only thing I’ve found that overrides that sensation so far is sudoku, so I’m doing a fair amount of sudoku at the moment, understanding that one of the most important things I can be doing is taking moments out to catch a breath. I’m no good to anyone, myself included, if I’m so burnt out I can just barely eke my way through each day. I’m trying to hold tight to that to counter myself in the moments where I think, “I can’t sit down–there’s still too much to do!” It’s good to have voices of wisdom and love confirming that. ♥

      • February 6, 2014 at 10:47 am

        It IS hard, and it’s a learning from exhaustion experience, but we do eventually learn. Sometimes at night I look at my dining room, living room, and kitchen full of dishes and think, ugh, I just NEED to tidy all this up. Instead now, I think it, leave it, rest better, and get up just a tad earlier in the morning and take care of it all. I feel so much better than forcing myself in the moment of tiredness to do it! Love you so much! Hugs, hugs,hugs!

  7. January 31, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    As always Deb, your words are so relevant and touching. And, just this week I have been thinking of just the same theme as I hunt for a quote that I thought I read in Sue Monk Kidd’s Secret Life of Bees. I have asked so many people who read (and also loved) the book and no one recalls it. I had a 2 second conversation with Ms. Kidd last weekend and she seemed unsure of what I was talking about– So, I now think I might have imagined this, one of my favorite quotes… here is what I recall reading– one of the women in the book says to Lily, when I look out at all of the wash hanging on clotheslines across the yards, I would take my own. So, even if I made this up, it relates to your post and one of my mantras – that no matter how hard things might seem, other people have just as big or bigger problems. Even someone whose life seems so grand, might actually have difficult issues.

    I have a few friends who complain about their husband’s hectic work schedule and I am always disappointed that they can’t be grateful that their husbands work! Their husbands make a good living and provide a wonderful existence for their families. It’s completely acceptable and even appreciated to express how tired you might be and frustrated and miss your husband, but also express how much you appreciate what he does and how hard he works- as you do!

    I am inspired by your ability to see the positive that is behind or in front of all the issues you have to deal with.

    • February 6, 2014 at 5:57 am

      I read The Secret Life of Bees some years back and recall enjoying it, but don’t recall much of the book itself. I wonder if it’s time for me to reread it. I’ve had a hard time getting into reading lately, and I think something tried and true (that I can’t remember, so it’ll be like new!) might be my best bet.

      I like the idea of keeping my own wash. The hard parts are hard, but man, the beautiful parts shine. And they’re ones I’m tied to. Invested in. I want to see how these parts grow and change. That means taking the hard parts, too, and I do, with the intention to change whatever I can from among them and accept with as much grace as possible the remainder.

      Speaking of inspiration, I am inspired by the comments here, and reminded of . . . oh, to use the phrasing from an old post, all the kind words and arms outstretched for lifting here. Thank you. ♥

  8. January 31, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    I love this post. And LOVE the comments! Well said all around.

    • February 6, 2014 at 5:58 am

      Sometimes I feel a little guilty how long it takes me to reply to comments. Most the time, though, I’m glad it takes me a little while. It gives me a chance to revisit all that was said and be warmed anew by it. I am so grateful for this community!

  9. February 1, 2014 at 5:27 am

    You are always spot on in your assessment of our shared humanity. What so many of us struggle to say, what is in our hearts comes pouring through your fingers to our screens. We read your words and shout, “yes, yes that!”

    If I had wings, I would flap them furiously to be by your side, cook your dinner, clean your house or offer you any help I could offer you during this time when you are so exhausted. Blessings aside, you are tired. Silver linings sometimes get a bit tarnished around the edges, your heart is so large you see they just need a bit a polish. Gad Deb, I wish for just a minute all of us could see with your eyes and remind ourselves how we are blessed, no matter the tarnished edges.

    • February 26, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      You do so much with your words, it’s as if you are here helping with these things. I not only remain but become increasingly thankful for your loving care so beautifully and openly expressed. You make my heart ache, in ways for which I can only say “thank you.”

  10. February 1, 2014 at 5:33 am

    This: “Sparkly silver linings don’t change the fact rain is falling.” is such a great line! I don’t know how parents do it. I don’t have kids and some of my coworkers do. I hear them talk about their schedules and they have to do – some w/spouses, some alone, and I don’t know how they do it. But I have no doubt you will! 🙂

    • February 26, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      A couple of times a day, I find myself fretting, “How am I going to make it work with two?!” I then remember fretting over how I’d make it happen with one, and I know that I will make it happen when the time is upon me. Knowing I’ll find the tools then makes it easier to be closer to at peace now. 😀

  11. February 1, 2014 at 5:51 am

    I love this post and I love Shari’s comment. I remember The Secret Life of Bees and I remember that conversation. Yes, “when I look at all that wash hanging on the lines, I would take my own.”
    We ALL have problems but they are ours to deal with. Some walk away but find they never really can because as my mother would say “in walking away, you just trade one set for another.”
    In a conversation with a former minister who is dealing with raising a child with special needs, and who knows what I have to deal with, too…I quoted the following to him
    1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Our circumstances are ours, to deal with, sort out, to even love and as you say consider a blessing…they are ours alone. I was amazed when he answered, “I hadn’t thought of it that way.” Surely he has…I admire this man so much. Perhaps I just caught him at a moment to remind him of what he already knows…I know he does. Your post reminds us of our commitment to press on.
    7 months…what joy…your event is coming soon. I must get our conversation in now, as your time which is precious now, will become even more precious.

    • February 26, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      And since it’s taken me so long to reply, it’s now 8 months! As you know, I am more excited by the day. There will be hardships, but oh! There will be ever so much more love to counter it! ♥

  12. February 4, 2014 at 10:22 am

    There is no harder. There is just hard. You are a warrior. All of this makes the good greater. Hang in there mama. There is no greater sacrifice! xo

    • February 26, 2014 at 8:18 pm

      With great love, I send many thanks your way. These words made such a difference to me when first posted, and still now. ♥

  13. February 4, 2014 at 11:00 am

    My life is full of blessings, ones that remind me life is too complex to be boiled down to any one measure, be it suffering, elation or uncertainty.

    Yes. And that complexity itself is a blessing, yeah?

    I see you. I hear you. I feel you.

    Yes, yes, and yes. And to this I’ll add, “I love you.” Keep showing up, Deb, day by day, hour by hour.

    • February 26, 2014 at 8:19 pm

      Hear, hear to the above! As we come upon the two-year anniversary of you, Karin and I meeting face to face, I can’t help but be grateful for the complexity and goodness that allows people far apart in space to be so very close in heart. Much love.

  14. February 4, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    We do tend to forget that everyone has struggles, that we are not lone sufferers of the human condition; even in the forgetting we are are not alone. Reading this made me think of two songs: Live is Life by Opus and the closing song from the Rescue Heroes movie — We Are Many We Are One. 🙂

    Love you, and hope you know that if I could hug you until your tiredness goes away I would. Let me transfer you some energy. ♥

    • March 12, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      Belatedly, I wanted to send much love and say that I greatly appreciate your thoughtfulness. ♥

  15. February 22, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    Hey! Thanks for liking my post on how the Grinch Saved My Attitude! When I read your About Me, i realize we have something in common! I grew up in Japan and it still holds a special place in my heart. You are right, we are all blessed and while we can handle more than we think, it doesn’t mean we should if we don’t have to. It’s awesome to see how you are finding the blessings in the every day! With 4 little ones, I know what that’s like when there’s mild chaos but still you can feel the joy and love and hear the laughter and yes the tears too 😉 Hang in there!

    • March 12, 2014 at 12:28 pm

      It’s funny how even reading “Japan” in an unexpected place fills my heart with joy. Someday I hope to travel there with my family, and show them the places I knew as home during my stay there. It won’t be soon, but the thought of it happening at all is a heartening one . . . the kind that makes rough moments a little easier to weather! 🙂

  1. February 11, 2014 at 7:02 pm
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