Mold laden salami swirled atop the hot soapy water of the trash can. The day had sucked life and perspective out of me, but I was determined to end the night on a strong note and hopeful that the satisfaction I’d get from cleaning out a garbage can would be the ticket. Then it happened. The handle on the trash can broke and sent its contents splashing all over the kitchen, my clothing, and right into my mouth.
Today has been a day. My mood has been awful, I’ve been feeling dangerously close to entering the sucking hole of sorry-for-myself, and I’m pretty sure the garbage can incident sent me over the edge.
My overall poor mood may have something to do with the fact that I am on day two of a diet that includes nothing I’d really like to eat or drink. Or that it’s close to a year post-repatriation and I miss my friends and life in Shanghai. But perhaps it’s the mountain of stuff to do in my home, the looming medical appointments and surgeries for my children, or the fact that my kids have turned whining into an art form and torturing one another into a favorite pastime. Did I mention that I’ve decided to homeschool in the fall?
I find myself frustrated with running a household, finishing lingering home projects, grocery shopping, getting less fat, sorting through mountains of paperwork, paying bills, arranging medical visits, keeping my kids alive; and on the days I feel really caffeinated- attempting to raise them into decent human beings.
If it seems like I’ve lost perspective, I have. If you feel compelled to make things better with encouraging words, please don’t. I know there are much larger problems in the world, and that my life is more than many could hope for. I know that I am loved, and I appreciate your prayers. I do. But there is something about getting caught up in the little things. Something that until recently, I couldn’t appreciate.
This new gift of appreciation came when I listened to a story about life in a war zone. It resonated when the person talked about how he and his friends cherished getting caught up in trivial matters. He said that in the midst of bombs exploding, petty annoyances made things feel more normal. It took being in the midst of war, but he actually recognized aggravation as a privilege.
Life is far from normal, and while I’m not delusional enough to think my life is like living in the middle of an actual physical war zone, I did relate to much of what he said. My war isn’t over land in Gaza, and my bombs aren’t weapons that kill. My war zone consists of children who hold the unknown of both diagnosed and undiagnosed disease in their bodies, of epilepsy, nighttime seizures, vein malformations within the brain, undiagnosed movement disorder, and rare genetic disease. My bombs are too many medical exams, procedures, surgeries that carry risks beyond the disease, and being one step closer to a diagnosis that may change our lives forever.
My life load is weighty at the moment. Typically, I lament these times when I lose perspective, and feel guilt-ridden and ungrateful. But I’m going to stop guilting my struggles with doses of perspective, and instead, try to see them as the privilege and coping mechanisms they are.
But first, I am going to rinse my mouth out with some bleach.