The twins are fighting over the latest coveted object. This time the earbuds for my Iphone.
Watching them in this bizarre, passionate tug-of-war: Dezzo with his mouth a rectangle full of teeth, face tomato-red, and eyes full of the most forlorn tears I almost want to laugh at the absurdity and pick him up right away to comfort him while Anna is on her tippy toes caterwauling in an ungodly way, face also a hellish red, and every fiber in her body so tense she is vibrating while she pulls indignantly. I look around. There are remnants of raisins and Goldfish crackers, and Ellis, our poor Boxer dog, who has been relegated to the bottom of the totem pole for years now, is scrounging for those crumbs. Oz is in his bouncy seat cooing loudly, sweetly, but also, annoying in this moment. All I want to do is to take a torch and burn up all the Legos and Little People cars, all the miniature farm animals and dinosaurs on the floor so I don’t have to clean them up, and then go into the kitchen to make a huge chocolate cake and eat it over the sink with my bare hands like a rat.
I ask myself again: How did I get here?
I didn’t sign up for this, whatever this is, pseudo-insane-asylum. I graduated from college. I went to graduate school. Twice. I was accepted to PhD programs. I am an ordained minister, for God’s sake. What the hell is my world right now?
I wake up for a moment and run over to the twins and snatch up the earbuds before they go the way of Solomon’s sage advice to the women fighting over the baby and become two strands of useless, dead wire. And now they are screaming at me. I guess that’s a better alternative.
How did I get here???
Vocation is a funny word. It’s surprisingly not so far off from the word, “vacation.” But, I digress, pointlessly. Or not so pointlessly? In my mind, I keep on turning over and over the words of one of my mentors, “Vocation should be about flourishing and thriving in your passion.” Flourishing. Thriving. I am doing neither of those right now. Perhaps I would if I had some kind of a vacation. That is all-inclusive. With fruity, diluted alcoholic drinks with pretty umbrellas, and where I can swim up to the bar to refill my glass as many times as humanly possible. An opportunity to breathe and to break from it all. No doubt then, vocation and vacation seem to go hand-in-hand. To flourish requires some kind of fracture in the day to day routine, temporary but thorough and extreme.
But both vocation and vacation undergo a major transformation in marriage and family. Back in the day when it was just Andy and me, vacations were actually stressful before we could do them together. It took us a long time to realize that we both had very different ways of relaxing and enjoying a city. I longed to be a tourist first and to see everything, soak up museums, parks, and churches, while Andy prioritized reading a good book in coffee shops and bars. Granted, we both wanted the same thing but the order was off. We eventually got it.
Likewise, the first time we came up to my parents’ home for “vacation,” with just the twins who were 6 months old, we thought we could immediately hand them off and looked forward to going out for wings and beer. 10 minutes after we got our beers and started to get into the Cubs-Pirates game we got a call from my dad. Both babies were screaming in the background. We got our wings boxed up and left to go back. Now, we look forward to this time so we can go out to breakfast or lunch without the kids or sit in a Starbucks to read and write or take the kids to the zoo. That’s vacation.
I have my moments. When I really love this whatever. Love being at home with the kids. Love watching them do everything for the first time. Love experiencing everything with them. Love their laughter, their songs, their eyes when they wake up from a nap.
But, I have my other moments, too. And I can’t help but say, “WTH is this life?”
I got stuck. Writing this out. And someone posted Momastery’s latest blog by a lady named Lisa-Jo, I’ve never heard of her but feel like I should know her, and wish I could grab coffee or better yet, a hard, pre-prohibition drink and hear her talk more about these dog days:
Ain’t no shame in those days, friends.
Nope, I think those are the holy days. The scars-worn-bravely days.
So, on those days, dear ones, dish up an extra bowl of ice cream and repeat after me:
I am stretched and tired and fearful.
I am wild and brave and broken.
But this one life is on purpose and it’s not by accident where I woke up this morning.
These are the good days, the glory days, the slow-as-molasses days. These are the fast years, the wonder years, the how-do-I-find-words years.
But we do. They usually start with “help” and end with “thank you” and the middle?
The middle is a thick layer of reliable wonder sometimes whispered, often shouted, always answered.
The middle is me. The middle is you. The middle is just this one, sacred, take-off-your-shoes-worthy syllable,
I read this and I can’t think of a better way to describe this vocation. To make me stand a little taller because of this calling. To go to sleep for a few hours feeling satisfied and fulfilled in unexpected ways. To wake up looking forward to what is around the corner, and how these little ones will continue to call me forward. Sure, I vacillate constantly between being faithful to my feminist priorities by bucking against cultural pressures to be the perfect and willing stay-at-home mom…or embracing this as an opportunity to experience and live into a new kind of faithfulness trusting in God’s timing and gifts. Yes, I was judgy when I was pregnant and looked down on all sorts of stay-at-home moms, suburban moms, homeschooling moms, and now I see them as incredible expressions of survival and vocation…and calling. I was ordained in 2005 to ministry, but I was ordained to something bigger when the twins first laid hands on me and I never let go, and then Oswald surprised us, and it was like I was being baptized all over again