I just said that title to a friend of mine today on the phone.
I told her that I never thought this would be my place in life.
I think I secretly wanted Hallmark.
I know I wanted Hallmark.
I wanted the flowers on my birthday, the being the treasured one, the beautiful house with all of the perfect furniture, with kids who got to participate in what they wanted, a bank account where I didn’t go to bed fearful that the power would stay on, and just no crazy angst. I wanted some bubble gum and marshmallows and rainbows and glitter life that didn’t have the valleys and pits and mud puddles of reality.
Truthfully. That’s what I thought life should be if you’re good enough.
(No wonder I write so passionately about being enough.)
My life is so far from perfect it’s not surprising my site is named finding joy.
So some truth. Because, honestly, it is when one is raw and real and truthful that healing can begin. And in that place of exposing of one’s life does it allow others to feel the bravery to talk about their lives without hiding behind the cloak of fear, shame, or not feeling valued.
So I will finally be real.
I’m in the midst of a separation. I’m a single mom of seven kids. Some of my kids are angry at me. I work over sixty hours a week trying to make ends meet. I deal with people who simply don’t respect me and treat me like I’m nothing. I deal with people who tell me that people that treat me like nothing are no big deal. I’m tired. And oftentimes I want to put my head down on my table and cry and eat ice cream but most of the times the kids ate it so there’s none.
I don’t like to talk about it. Or write about it.
It’s embarrassment, really.
Somehow I wanted my life to be the exception. I wanted to be the one who was always loved, cared for, and important. I didn’t want to feel unimportant. I wanted holidays to be a certain way. I didn’t want stress. I didn’t want to go to bed every night with my head on the pillow and feel so utterly completely alone.
I know I’m not alone. I know I have friends. I know there are those who love me and will stand with me. I know that if I picked up the phone at any time someone would be right here for me. I know that.
But, in my house, most of the time it is just me. It is me in the morning and at lunch and at bedtime. There is no one across the table for me to smile at when the kids do something funny. There is no one to think of me on their way home and grab my favorite iced caramel macchiato (well, in the summer, as in the winter the only option is extra-hot). There is no help with bath times or when the kids are sick or any of that.
I am not complaining.
I am just telling you my reality because I know that there are some of you out there who are in the same spot. Maybe it’s not exactly the same. Maybe it’s because there’s extreme financial issues and you always thought you’d have enough (I’m there too — holy moly — is that stress). Maybe your child is sick. Or you’ve dealt with death. Or something I can’t even articulate.
Life so often doesn’t look anything like it was thought to look like.
Except, that you know, I think our picture of life has been distorted. Somehow the illusion that life can be beautiful if it is a certain way has been accepted and it has created this place for everyone else to live in ambiguity and purgatory of real life beauty as they stare at their life canvas. Somehow the idea that our lives look like Van Gogh’s swirls of craziness competes with the Monet’s that we thought life should be. And then, then, then it can be this sense of loss. This feeling like we’re not worth it. That life cannot be beautiful unless it is a certain way.
It’s not true.
I’ll tell you. I work harder than I ever thought one would work right now. I do because I love my kids and I believe in the message that I get to write every day. I believe in finding joy even when life is the antithesis of Hallmark.
Someone needs to stand up and say that Life is Beautiful even when it is messy.
So I will.
Life is beautiful.
My kids love me even when they tell me they hate me or that this is the worst day ever. They just do. I know it. My house may not be the trendiest, most beautiful, and awesome designer place, but it is my home. I’m getting some wrinkles and am so tired, but I have a body that is still living, moving, and has the ability to give. I have friends that stand by me and love me when I make the stupidest mistakes.
It’s hard to let go of what we thought would be the ideal dream of life.
But it’s in the letting go and acceptance of where one is that the joy can return.
Living for an ideal that simply cannot be strips the happiness right off of the heart. Living grateful for your today fills life with meaning that cannot always be explained.
So I choose to live.
To move forward, climb the next mountain, and to see beauty.
In my messy, not perfect, working hard, life.
Which, honestly, is probably where most of us would really be. We just need to share. To admit the truth. To love those no matter where they are. To support. To care. To not judge. And to be there for the other. To look at those whose lives are challenging not with pity but with admiration for their courage.
It’s not about about perfection.
It’s about loving. Caring. Giving.
That’s community. Life.
And ultimately – joy.
From me, in my broken but yet beautiful life, to you.
You are valued. Beautiful. Worth it. You contribute great value to this world.
Even if life isn’t what you thought it would be.
Carry on brave mother. Carry on.
edited to add: I wrote this post one year after my separation. It took me that long to admit and find the bravery about my life. But there is such freedom in letting go and dropping the masks – it creates space to heal. In the almost five years since I’ve found happiness, realized that Hallmark celebrates the wonderful moments and that is why we love it and have pursued a passion of bringing hope, healing and bravery to a generation of women. I wrote my book The Brave Art of Motherhood and in it I’ve detailed the steps to finding joy, confidence and self again. To get your copy: Amazon (link), Autographed (link) or Store (you must drive there….lol)