It's 7 a.m. on a Saturday, and I've been awake since an hour ago when one of the dogs woke me up while licking his butt obsessively.
Not exactly what I had in mind for a Saturday morning. What I envisioned was sleeping in, snuggling with my husband while all 3 dogs pile up on us and we first get annoyed and then laugh as we get engulfed, and then finally dozily walking down the stairs for a cup of coffee.
But the sound of a dog licking itself is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard or a wooden tongue depressor in my mouth at a doctor's office. It. Drives. Me. Insane. Playing the "Barney and Friends" theme song 20 times in a row has the same effect 2 minutes of licking has on my skittish brain. Plus I hold the record for the world's lightest sleeper.
So, needless to say, I'm awake.
After scowling at the dog and telling him to stop, I realized 2 things: 1--He's nearly deaf, so I would have to get out of bed anyway to make him stop, 2--If I would have to get out of bed to do that, I might as well get up and enjoy the morning by myself.
My 2 kids are with their dad this weekend, and my husband's 2 kids are with their mom, so the morning is mine. All mine. I'm not mad about that.
I can't lie--sometimes this life is overwhelming. Each day brings so much chaos with blending 2 families with different personalities and parenting styles (I'm a direct, tell-it-like-it-is mama, and my husband is a sweet, let's-talk-it-out dad) that it can drain my tank.
But when I get moments like this morning, it gives me a second to step off the conveyor belt of adulting and just breathe. This is what my kitchen looks like this morning.
And it doesn't bother me one bit. Last night I did a glorious thing I rarely do: laid on the couch and watched mindless television with no kids, falling in and out of sleep while people looked for their dream home in Spain.
Ah, the dishes can wait, I told my husband. And well, looky there, they did! I was right. The world did not end.
What's more important, look at what the world looks like outside this morning.
That's the image that's more important to me and speaks to me. The dishes, chaos of juggling work with life with kids with a healthy marriage--all that stuff is messy, but there is peace and beauty in it too. It's always in the background calling for us if we chill out, breathe, and look out.
Let me tell you, my life is far from perfect, and I do a good job of whining that I'm overwhelmed, but that just means I'm alive. Give me overwhelm and stress any day because it means I'm digging in and not half-assing it.
I have to-do and grocery lists sloppily jotted down that end up crumpled up in my purse. They might as well have an aisle named after me at the Aldi that's next door to my office because I'm there so often on my lunch break.
I write these illegible lists while at my day job. The inside of my brain looks like a bunch of elves who are jacked up on espresso and Red Bull running into each other as they scurry to get it all done.
Thoughts come to me while I manage to stay focused on my job: Picture day is coming up, this one has a party to go to, that one has to pick up her cello, should I make chicken for dinner tonight even though I don't like it, but everyone else does, I have to finish that article I'm writing....it's a nonstop barrage of juggling it all, and like I said, I'm really good at getting overwhelmed by it when in reality my life is easy and full of joy when I choose to focus on it.
Last night my son and I were in the car and we came across a woman with a sign that said she was desperate for help to buy diapers and formula for her kids. I'm wired to never walk past someone who asks for help, so we helped. I told her to use the money wisely and be well, and her eyes told me she would. She was too choked up to speak.
I bet she would do anything to have the luxury of having a morning to herself, to sip a cup of coffee and putz around a warm home while the sun comes up. Seeing her reminded me this life, this craziness, is not stressful. It's lovely and when I look outward, I remember that so much more vividly.
This chaos and being bombarded IS life. The messy to-do and grocery lists, the never-ending chores, the having personal goals that get pushed on the back burner for lack of time--all of it is life. I can look at the challenges and be taken down by them, or take a step back and look at the beauty of it all.
It's only fitting that a dog licking his butt is what urged me to remember this because that's what a messy, fulfilling life looks like to me.