Growing up my Mom always told me, “You have to have bad days once in a while to appreciate the good.” At the time I probably rolled my eyes or thought she was wrong. Turns out, Mom is always right. The past few weeks have been less than “good” if one were to qualify a particular day as good or bad. Over the years, I’ve learned to trust the process. Whenever things seem to be falling into place, I tend to hold on to my peach and brace for the worst, for that’s when it usually happens. Each struggle elevates us. Each a step closer to our best self. My struggles are not the same as someone else’s (thank goodness!- sometimes you have to be thankful for what you DON’T have). But it is still my beautiful mess. So I’ll share it because usually, people only share the best moments of their life or day to cast an illusion that everyone’s life is all good, all the time. This is in fact one of the reasons my husband doesn’t have any social media accounts aside from Twitter so he can stay up to date on all things sports related. I used to turn to him, so frustrated, asking- how does this person with (fill in the blank) have time to look like that? and their house look like that? and they go on vacations that look like that? “Megan, he would say- you don’t see the help from other people in the background. Or maybe just the ugly mess that was just moments before.” I think about this when I look at some of our own family photos. In particular, just before we headed out to have some family photos for the last Holidays, our house had been full of “hot” emotions all morning. There was no reason in particular other than everyone woke up on the wrong side of the bed and there was even door slamming, yelling and I fought back tears and had to find a calm space as we drove so that hopefully our pictures didn’t reflect the dysfunction of the morning.
This week, I was somewhere between laughter and tears as my 4 year old threw up on the way to school. I ran into grab an extra set of clothes from his cubby there along with a plastic bag, stripping him down in the parking lot and trying my best to calmly clean the mess. I got him home and was thinking, “seriously- enough didn’t happen over the past 2 weeks that now I get to clean up throw up, cancel my brazilian wax (which I was finally getting around to after 6 months), and figure out how to get work done today? So let’s rewind to the past 2 weeks. It started with the 4 year old having a little cough and cold. It got better, then escalated and kept everyone up in the house (Lincoln in a benadryl haze), myself in the guest bedroom next door so I could run in if he needed me in the middle of the night, and my husband down in his bed watching the monitor and coming up to help whenever necessary. After night 3, we brought him in to the doctor just to make sure it wasn’t turning into something else. “Just a really bad virus,” she said. “And oh- expect a couple more bad nights”. “Greaaaaat….” I thought to myself as I anticipated my husband leaving in less than 24 hours to head out on business and then I really was working 2 full time jobs (parenting is a full time job, somewhat shared with a spouse). Whenever my husband heads out of town, our other child, the 70 pound boxer, heads to my in-laws. This is the compromise I made when I found myself unable to take care of a baby alone, a dog when we have no backyard to let him out in, and continue to work full time. So, off he went down the road a few hours after I returned from the doctor. We had another rough night as anticipated. Jamie snuck out of the house early to catch his flight. I found a tiny piece of sanity on the stationary Peloton bike, and then as I was racing through my shower to be ready to address my sick child’s needs, my phone started ringing. It was my father in law at the vet with the my dog-child. He was really upset, saying he was sorry he should have brought Bodhi there sooner. I am now in my nurse mode trying to get information out of a distraught family member. He hands the phone over to the vet, who says, “I am so sorry but we need to perform emergency surgery on your dog. There’s a 50/50 chance he’ll make it. The estimate is somewhere between $6000 and $13,000 and if you want us to go ahead we need a credit card to charge the lower amount of the estimate. If you have pet insurance, this will be covered.” “Oh sure, yes- we do. Umm, OK, here’s our credit card #. I have to get my son to school and then I’ll be there.” In my head I was thinking, “did this all just happen before I even had a cup of coffee?” Fast forward, my husband returns home after a few days and so does our dog. Now we are not sleeping for another reason as our ears are perked for any noise again. I trudge through work in a daze. This is a place where I often gain perspective. I mean, I work with cancer patients all day. I hear there stories, and often find myself again thankful for what I DON’T have, but my life has been closely touched by this disease over and over again. I see it bring people together in ways they may not have otherwise. I have also seen it tear families apart. I have mourned at the thought of a child being left without a mom or dad, a spouse without their soulmate, a mom or dad without their son or daughter. I have seen people continue to build their legacy. I have seen people become consumed with their diagnosis and almost lose themselves in the process. It’s a big, beautiful mess of a life.
And somedays, I take a little longer to get over myself. When I do, I can find beauty and joy in the little things. Like the extra snuggles with my beautiful child. Listening to his sweet snores as he falls asleep on my chest. I realize, that it’s not that bad. Sometimes, I feel like super woman when I conquer the week. I managed it all and I didn’t die. Some weeks may have more pics on my Instagram. Others, I am just hanging on by my fingernails and only want to open my phone to see how many more hours or minutes before my alarm goes off. And that’s ok. I get to be here today. I get to enjoy this big beautiful mess of life.