Returning home from school, ivy declares her expectations or wishes for the rest of the day. Taking a deep breath and letting the conversation unfold slowly is increasingly challenging with two kids. I agree but mention that jackie needs to eat lunch and then do her work before play. Tired after school, with a bucket load of sassy, she cuts me off and says “yeah-yeah!”

I didn’t have to overcome any gut reaction of my own. I pulled her to me and hugged her and acknowledged how hard must have been this cold school day for her. She accepted my embrace and to my surprise she immediately apologized for her reaction.

She made me a bracelet later in the day, and wrote on her new lunch box “I love mom”.

It has not been easy. Finding the balance of boundaries, love, self care, discipline, empathy. I’ve functioned for months out of inertia and lost my joy. Being aware of it doesn’t make joy automatically acquired and infused. The guilt for not truly enjoying the company of my daughters was eroding my spirit. I couldn’t separate, sort, compartmentalize anything, and that was mentally exhausting. Loneliness, guilt, fear… the perfect Molotov cocktail.

Rockbottom is a great place to reach.

Conrad and I are good communicators. But we may have lost our curiosity in listening to the other. The overstimulation of listening all day, made our brains tired. Trying to protect each other or giving each other the gift of silence, of not burdening with our own worry or fear, caused a drought of connection.

But we tried. We started small, making small changes in our routine, mindset, perspective. No dramatic transformation. But when the big wave hit, our hearts were softened and ready. Conrad’s preparation for surgery was a catalyst. And the winds have shifted altogether. I can’t think of anything else I did, but I feel different. Driven, focused, patient and kind. God is using all my gifts, be that navigating bureaucracy for my husband or kids, and the rush of dopamine in solving issues. The connections we’ve made and the projects at hand. I am living my best life, and I grow and stretch and serve and feel joy. It is all by Grace, and how sweet and safe it is to live in the shadow of our King and Heavenly Father.