A couple of weeks ago I got an email from a friend who’s having a difficult summer. When she signed off, she wrote, “I can’t imagine the Graceful summers you are describing, but they sound lovely.” I could hear regret in her voice, maybe a little despair.
Her email made me think that maybe I’m not being quite honest enough around here.
So here’s the skinny: My Graceful Summer posts are a mere slice of real life – maybe 1% of the whole story. I’m not saying these moments don’t happen, or that they aren’t true, but they are only a very small part of our lives. In fact, acknowledging these slightly graceful moments of summer helps me live them, appreciate them and recognize them when they happen. Because the truth is, a whole lot of other moments don’t make it to the blogosphere.For instance, there was the morning I told Rowan five times to put on his socks. When he came downstairs and asked, “What am I supposed to be doing again?” I stomped on the pedal of the stainless steel trash can and slammed the lid into the wall with a horrendous racket. Rowan stood in the kitchen barefoot and bewildered while I ranted about “listening skills” like a raving lunatic.
Or the fact that while I wrote about playing Monopoly just a couple of weeks ago, I’ve since slipped the Monopoly box beneath the couch, where it sits with the dust rabbits (we’ve long since passed dust bunnies around here) and Ritz cracker crumbs. I cannot possibly bear the thought of another three-hour round of the most agonizing board game in history.I know what it’s like to look at someone else’s life portrayed on the screen and think, “Wow, my kids aren’t that polite. My house isn’t that cute. I don't pray that much.” I know, because I do it all the time. A couple of years ago in the midst of a raving lunatic moment, I fumed aloud to my kids, “I bet Ann Voskamp’s kids don’t act this way!”
You know what Noah’s response was? “Who in the world is Ann Voskamp, anyway?”
In that moment I was grateful to Noah for offering me some much-needed perspective. There I was, standing in the dining room with the dustpan and broom in my hand, trying to live someone else’s life…and trying to get my kids to do the same. What’s ironic is that Ann Voskamp writes about the messy – she doesn’t make any claims of perfection. But I simply don’t choose to see her messy. Instead, I focus on the six kids who do two hours of farm chores every morning, while mine won’t put away his clean underwear.The bottom line is that none of us is perfect and none of has perfect lives, even if appears that way on the screen. You may think my grass is greener, but let me tell you, from my perspective, it’s looking a little parched, brown and withered around here.
So please. Do yourself (and me!) a favor. Next time you read a Graceful Summer post, simply think, "Aw, isn't that a lovely moment." And then realize that's exactly what it is: one small moment in a sea of many.
Do you ever do that? Look at someone else's life on screen and play the comparison game?
And a little note of thanks: for your prayers, emails, advice and comments last week before I left for She Freaks. The conference was wonderful - I didn't cry once...not even behind the brochure rack! I spent a lot of quality time with these two lovelies, and I didn't swallow my tongue during the editor appointments. While I wasn't exactly eloquent, I felt a rare calm and peace wash over me as I pitched my projects, and the four editors I met with took my book proposals with them, so that's something at least. So now we wait, because as you all know, the publishing industry moves like the last teaspoon of molasses in the bottom of the jar.
Thank you, friends. Truly. You give me peace and hope.
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