This weekend my wife offered to give me a time-out. I know what you’re thinking. How sweet of her to offer me time away for self-care? Well the offer was made with, “You know there’s still time for me to drop you off.”

“Off?”

“…at home.”

I’m not sure what I said or did to get this response, but I recognized we had reached a critical moment. “Its that bad…you’d rather drop me off.” Her silence was answer enough and I was rather humbled. Clearly I wasn’t hiding my bad mood and I was rather embarrassed. I started the weekend in a bad mood and it continued throughout the day. So, I decided to ‘turn it around’ instead of being sent home on a time out. I’m not sure how successful I was, but I made an effort to keep my irritability to myself. As we ‘hosted’ at church, I threw myself into set-up and dishes with great enthusiasm.

Before children, I thought the miracle of motherhood would cure these bouts of irritability. I never believed in happily ever after, but children are amazing and fun. Their energy is contagious and their innocence a gift. Wonder of wonders, the joy of motherhood did not change my fundamental disposition. I ‘get down’, ‘get annoyed’ and simply struggle at times. How often do we all believe in the happily ever after or it will get better when? It will get better when I get a new job. It will get better when I get a new car, lose weight, or meet the right person.

Rather than a fundamental shift, motherhood has brought me an overall sense of contentment. I am blessed with a beautiful and imperfect family, a place to call home, with people I love within. And…I still struggle when life is difficult and when I am imperfect. It was this moment that someone special read a portion of Billy Collins’ Aristotle, offering her perspective of life in the middle:

This is the middle.
Things have had time to get complicated,
messy, really. Nothing is simple anymore.
Cities have sprouted up along the rivers
teeming with people at cross-purposes—
a million schemes, a million wild looks.
Disappointment unshoulders his knapsack
here and pitches his ragged tent.
This is the sticky part where the plot congeals,
where the action suddenly reverses
or swerves off in an outrageous direction.
Here the narrator devotes a long paragraph
to why Miriam does not want Edward’s child.
Someone hides a letter under a pillow.
Here the aria rises to a pitch,
a song of betrayal, salted with revenge.
And the climbing party is stuck on a ledge
halfway up the mountain.
This is the bridge, the painful modulation.
This is the thick of things.
So much is crowded into the middle—
the guitars of Spain, piles of ripe avocados,
Russian uniforms, noisy parties,
lakeside kisses, arguments heard through a wall—
too much to name, too much to think about.
This allowed me truly enjoy the remainder of the day and now what I think of as life in the middle.
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