My house is a mess. It feels indicative of my life. I remember when I used to live in this one house that had hardwood floors and I would mop the whole house twice a week. Those days are gone and that Me is gone. I don’t know what’s become of me. Somehow, I think I was better at having babies and toddlers than I am at having school-age kids. I knew what I was doing and I was good at it. I even kept my house clean then. Who knows what’s what now? I certainly don’t claim to. I try this chore chart thing that seems to be working pretty well, but it still doesn’t really satisfy me. Yes, I know I am not easily satisfied. Sigh. The bedrooms are horrific. They spill over into the rest of the house. Snow day brought a bunch of dirty, wet clothes and leaves and mud tracked all over the carpet. Who knows when it will all get clean? I certainly don’t. I know I could just take control and do something about it all, but I don’t want to. And therein lies the problem. What do I want?
When I think about my life, I like to categorize it into the different identity crises I have had. My first was around eighth grade when we moved back from Mexico and I realized I had a choice: I could either be happy or I could be miserable. It was much more within my nature to be miserable but I recognized that for survival’s sake in a strange land with strange people in the den of lions we called Brixner Junior High School, I was much better off being happy. Happiness turned into airheadedness, which really suited me just fine throughout high school. Identity Crisis #1 taken care of.
My second came when I married my beloved at the age of nineteen. Now that I have lived a little past that age, I have become aware that nineteen is the age of identity crisis for most people, whether they are married or not. So I just happened to be going through mine with a husband by my side – a blessing, really. Who was I? The character that I had created in high school no longer worked. I needed a new character, but couldn’t find one anywhere. I knew I was a wife now, but couldn’t figure out what that role meant exactly. How was I to relate to others now that I was a wife? All I ever wanted my whole life was to have a baby but everyone knew that there was nothing more irresponsible than having a baby right off the bat. I mean, we already had a lot to prove to the world by getting married so young. We needed time alone, just the two of us, right? So after trying in vain for two years to prove how responsible we were, all the while hating my jobs and hating my roles, I gave into my deepest desires and talked my wonderful young husband into two years being long enough to wait. Identity Crisis #2 happily resolved.
My third is a little harder for me to put my finger on, because I am currently in the middle of it. Although it’s not as life-changing or depressing as numbers one and two, I am finding myself in the midst of another change that has lasted longer than I thought it would. Ever since my youngest started school, I am once again not sure of what my role is. Sure, I’m a mom. I think I’m a pretty good one. I love my husband and I love my kids. I work out of my home, helping run the home office of a mission. I’m good at that and I enjoy it. But I miss having babies. When I think of what I was good at and what I enjoyed more than anything in my life, that’s it. I was really good at it. I enjoyed the predictability of my mostly-scheduled days and the fulfillment that came with providing for an utterly helpless human being that I loved with all my heart. I hope I don’t get preached at for saying this, but I’m having a hard time seeing how I’m really needed now. I know I’m appreciated. I make dinner and do laundry and play games and talk and snuggle and help with homework and run little people here and there and have a lot of fun, which is all very nice and a blessing to many, I know. But needed? I don’t even think of myself as needing to be needed. Who am I and what have I done with myself?
Yesterday’s snow day revealed a lot more dirt than I thought it would. It was fun. Now the house is a mess. At least I can look forward to my cup of coffee tomorrow morning.