Sunday, April 29, 2012

first world problems



Soccer Game.

Picture day.  Comb his hair.  *mentally schedule haircut*

Be early. Pack stroller.  Take coffee.

Home for brunch. *make pancakes, warm syrup, cut oranges, wash strawberries?*

Daniel & his brother Mark work on rental house all afternoon.

I mow the yard.

Prepare supper. *dump chicken and barbecue sauce in crock-pot*

Run errands.

Make rolls with Cambria.

Make Jacob clean up all of the fresh cut grass that was tracked across the living room.

*mentally schedule carpet cleaners*

Daniel and Mark return just as I am about to get in the shower and end my day of craziness.

I wait for Mark to leave, pass the parenting baton to Daniel and head into the bathroom with a book, my phone and  fresh clothing .  Sliding the lock shut on any door is blissfully amazing right now, even it is the bathroom door.

Ahhhhhhhh.  Such a long week of solo parenting.  I am going to let it all unwind and roll off. 

Except that I notice there's toilet paper draped over the toilet seat.

So I clean that up.

Then I realize that new toilet paper isn't existent.  (How hard is it to replace the roll, people?!)

So I replace that.

Head over to wash my hands, but the drain is clogged with all of the bread dough that Cambria washed off of her hands.

So I clean that up, too.

(And normally I would be calling the children back to these messes, but I am on a mission to get into that hot shower.)

Over in the shower. . . . remember all of that fresh cut grass?  Well, it's in the tub now, and it's good to know that it's there, rather than on the carpet. . .

So I clean that up too.



I turn the hot water on.

Except that it is just a tiny little dribble.

I remember vaguely that Daniel had mentioned adding another inch of water to the pool.

I know a stronger person would have handled this in a different way, but I knew I was alone and no one would hear . . .

So I screamed.  Really loud.  Just let it all out.  And then I stood there in the dribble of water and cried.

Crying like an immature teenager, I think that the logical thing to do here is to go ask Daniel to turn the water off.  I wrap myself in a bath sheet and go bang on the window to the pool area.  He is out there, with his back pack blower blowing all of the grass off of the deck.  Obviously he can't hear me.

So as he comes up to the upper porch with his blower I go to the door.  In my bath sheet.  I wave at him.  He stops in his tracks and turns his blower off.  (Poor guy, I do believe he got the wrong idea.)

I am still in tears.

"I can't go to the bathroom because no one flushes the toilet and I can't wash my hands because the sink is clogged with bread dough and I can't take a shower because there's grass in the drain plug and then when I finally turn the shower on there's not any water because you're filling the pool.  All I want is a hot shower. . .and I'm not mad at anyone. . . I'm just tired. . . and can you please turn the water off?"

I don't know why he thought this little diatribe was so hilarious, but he couldn't stop laughing. 

I did have a hot shower and it really did feel amazing.

Worth crying over?  I don't know.  I think those tears of frustration and stress are going to come out of me somewhere no matter what.  They might as well be in the shower where no one sees.

I tell myself:  First world problem.

Ever heard that? 

It's a sarcastic response to some one's imagined catastrophe. 

I can't fit seven Ferraris in my six car garage.  waaaaah. . . .

First world problems are frustrations and complaints that are only experienced by privileged individuals in wealthy countries. (Definition according to Google.)
First World Problem example

As I travel the mamma road so many of the inconveniences and frustrations are just that. . . inconveniences.

I have forgotten. . . in two short years, I have forgotten the wish for a bad day.  Just a normal bad day.

I remember being down at the riverfront the week after Gabe died.

A young mom locked her keys in her van and it was a warm day;  her baby was crying.  My heart was twisting in two looking at her chubby little dude, sweating in his stroller.  My arms were still physically aching to hold my little man, not able to allow my mind to even grasp the finality of his tiny grave.

And she was furious with herself, swearing and kicking at the concrete pavement, hating the stupidity of small mistakes that add an hour to already busy days.

Daniel and I offered to give her a ride home to get her extra set of keys. Initially, tragedy brings an oddly cleared schedule.  Normally we wouldn't even have time to notice her predicament.  But in the face of unbelievably tortured nights and dragging through the days, giving a stranger a ride was a welcome diversion.

She complained the entire route.  She was so frustrated.  She was having such a bad day.  It was so hot.  Her baby wouldn't stop crying.  It was taking so long.  She was grateful and kind to us, but so angry with herself.

When the situation had been solved (within twenty minutes) she thanked us and drove away.

I remember watching her drive away, looking at Daniel and saying "I would give anything in the world to have that kind of bad day again."

To have a situation that can be solved with thinking and kindness?

To have a problem that can be fixed with some extra effort?

To see a need that just requires extra money?

To be tired at night from taking care of people that I love?

Have I so quickly forgotten?

Grief brings a clarity to life that ease and pleasure does not.  It has a way of slicing through the complexities of our busyness and prioritizing what really matters.

The water issues of a hot shower being slow while we're filling up our pool?

I'm ashamed and amazed that these are the things that put me under.

Ann Voskamp talks about her children fighting over toast in her book One Thousand Gifts;  she speaks of all of the big things that she's learning about God and then what ruins her day is toast.  And it's toast she repeats in the chapter Seeing Through the Glass. 

My friend Phoebe and I have coined this phrase;  it finds its way into those complaining texts as a way of bringing perspective.  this is only toast. . . this being late, this date that didn't turn out quite like we'd hoped, these children who spilled red juice on white shirts. . . 

It's the little things that sink me.

On Wednesday the toast was the elusive AWANA vest.  Cambria had lost hers the week before.  I searched in vain for an hour that I didn't have and she wept and I steamed.  One whole year of Cubbies and on the second to last week we lose the vest.  As if on cue, preparing for awards night, Jacob couldn't find his.  I looked.  He looked.  I prayed.  He prayed.  I was so frustrated.  I told myself. . .this is toast. . .this is not important. . .the scripture hidden in their hearts. . . that's the important part. . .

But I hate the label of frazzled and disorganized and I rebel against the image of the straggling homeschool mom whose children are ill-prepared for life and you know. . . I want to look like I have it all together.  It doesn't matter that I don't. . . I just want to look like it.

(Wow, did I just admit that?)

I want the cupcakes to be frosted just right and the reading to be one level above expected and the baby weight to be gone and the AWANA vests on.  So I searched on. I could feel sweat dripping down my back as I crouched down to search under our bed.  The ridiculousness of the whole thing should have made me laugh, but I marched on, grimly determined to find.the.vest.  If I found Cambria's during the search, that would also be a sweet bonus.

Cambria:  "Wow, I'm stressed."

Me:  "Why are you stressed, Cambria?"

Cambria:  "From all of your mad talking, Mom."


And I quit.  Right there.  The end.  It doesn't matter. The vests, the toast, the little things. . . they are little things.  They don't really matter. 

Where is my perspective?

Incidentally, (miraculously?)  at 5:30 pm I received a  text from Stirlen's mom that said they had Jacob's vest and and 6:00 pm I received a text from Jett's mom that said they had Cambria's.

So both of my children went to AWANA awards night with their vests.  The mad talking that I did was not only completely wasted, but once again a sober reminder to me that these are the little things. 

The big things. . .







Having them to hold

Waking up to their warm little selves

This short time we have them in our home. . .

I cannot spend these short days stressed about vests and hot showers.

These are first world problems.

These are not important problems.

These are not real problems.

And that perspective is both painful and beautiful.

May I not continue to live in forgetfulness.

Why doesn't Cambria have her award?  Because she forgot and left it at church. . . . it's not important. . . it's a little thing!


  1. Your post hit home today, it's been a week of many tears and after reading your blog tonight, I can now say - It's just toast :) Thank you!

  2. I came across your blog because I am married to a firefighter, have three kids and needed so much to find something that would help feel that this crazy life isn't all crazy after all. I literally googled firefight wives blog. That was a few months ago now, and I can't tell how thankful I am to have "stumbled" onto your blog. This post brought tears to my eyes. I, too, want to look like I can do it all. Thank you for your honest words.

  3. Hayley, you've hit this one spot on. Great post.

  4. I really needed this today, Hayley. Thank you!

  5. Thank you, thank you. May we all be thankful for our FWP, and for being bone tired from taking care of people we love all day. :)