This is a text exchange I had with a friend last week.
Here is what I have learned from this conversation and the bajillion like it I’ve had in the past: It’s not just you. It’s never just you. I know Pinterest and Instagram and Sunday mornings at church make it easy to believe that everyone else is killing it, but I’m telling you, no, they are not. There are thousands of hot messes out there walking around dressed up like competent adults, and I know this because I am one.
Especially they are not killing it if they are actively parenting, because this stuff is hard. Parenting is only thing I’ve ever been this bad at that I can’t walk away from. I am the world’s worst golfer, but that’s fine by me because I can just not golf. (Golf is bananas anyway. Here, try to get this tiny ball in an equally tiny hole a mile away. You have three tries. WHY? Feel free to write me hate mail, golfers.) I can’t just not mom, though. I’ve tried, and they always find me.
I am so tired, I wrote to another friend, and I realized that wasn’t quite true. I am weary. The distinction, I think, is that tired can be fixed with a good night’s sleep. Weary can’t. Weary comes in seasons, at least for me, and I’m not sure why I’m hitting another season right now.
I remembered yesterday about a poem I read in an English class in high school. It made me cry at the time, though I certainly hid that from the kids who were cooler than me, which was all of them. I found it again, and it still makes me cry, though I no longer care who knows it.
First Lesson (Philip Booth)
Lie back, daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man’s float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.
Maybe it’s time to surrender control, or the illusion of it I’ve been clinging to as I thrash around, trying to direct the tide. Maybe it’s time to lie up, and survive, and know that the sea will hold me.