Monday, September 1, 2014

Unmade Beds

Do you know what this is? Photo Aug 29, 7 11 44 PM

It’s an unmade bed. My unmade bed. And I know, I know, some of you are thinking, “Big deal that your bed isn’t made. I never get my bed made.” That may be, . . . but, there are things you do do; things that, through habit or perceived importance, you do get done every day – your children’s hair, books read, dinner, a load of laundry. Something.

There are many things I don’t do daily . . . things I would be embarrassed to admit I don’t do even monthly (good heaven’s above . . . please oh please never ask me how often I clean my showers), but, my bed? I always make my bed. I wake up. I whip the bed into shape. Then I go about my day accomplishing, or not accomplishing (as the case may be), but, with a made bed.

If my bed is unmade, you can be rather sure that life is not flowing along in a seamless fashion.

It occurs to me that using an “unmade bed” as a lovely (if somewhat ridiculous) little metaphor, makes it easy to nod knowingly and, from a place of experience and proper perspective, say, “Ah yes. The unmade beds of life. I know all about those.”

But . . . when you are living with an unmade bed, it doesn’t feel literary or poetic. It just feels . . . hard. (And, somehow, admitting that makes me feel, ridiculously, like a failure – like the people who are living lives full of calmness and ease are doing life admirably better. It makes me feel like I’ve just traded respect  for pity.)

(Heaven forbid.)

This whole training ground of life though? It often makes me feel like a circus performer; like I’ve just been taught some important new skill – say . . . tightrope walking. I’ve finally mastered it. I’m up high – completely exhilarated because I can’t believe I’m really doing it (when initially it seemed utterly impossible); but I am! I’ve actually got it! I balance like a pro. I’m no longer afraid I’ll fall. I can walk across that rope without a moment’s hesitation. It’s amazing. And then . . . the trainer says, “OK, good job! I know you thought you were done – that walking the tightrope was it, but now we’re going to train you to do it in a windstorm!”

Each time I get confident up on that tightrope, it’s time to add another element.

“You’ve got it! Now let’s have you try it on a unicycle!”

“Good work with the unicycle. Can you believe it’s easy for you now? Bravo! Let’s try juggling at the same time.”

“How do you feel about blindfolded tightrope walking? We think you’re ready.”

But, I do recognize that life is supposed to be hard sometimes. Strangely, simply reminding myself of that helps. Reminding myself that it’s OK for life to feel difficult makes me feel less like struggling equals failing and more like I’m learning something good for me. It reminds me that finishing this life only having learned to walk across the tight rope would be totally lame when I had the potential to cross it while juggling flaming torches, swallowing swords and taming tigers.

In a few weeks I’ll be able to start working my little Summer into a predictable schedule. She won’t fall asleep only to immediately wake up crying. I won’t struggle to find five minutes when I am certain I can take a shower. I won’t have to figure in an extra 30 minutes for nursing while getting kids ready for school each morning. Every bit of cleaning and organizing won’t be done one-handed or in a mad rush when I have my arms free for a second. We’ll have a new rhythm, and I’ll be able to devote set chunks of time to things like – cooking dinner, bathing children, and . . . making beds.

In the meantime, I love that life doesn’t only hand us “hard”. I love that Heavenly Father simultaneously gives us gifts of “easy” and happiness.
Photo Aug 22, 4 07 13 PMPhoto Aug 30, 3 22 11 PMPhoto Aug 25, 8 43 31 PMPhoto Aug 25, 8 44 49 PMPhoto Aug 25, 10 03 42 AMPhoto Aug 26, 2 59 06 PMPhoto Aug 27, 3 34 38 PMPhoto Aug 27, 4 49 57 PMPhoto Aug 27, 4 59 53 PMPhoto Aug 27, 5 00 08 PMPhoto Aug 27, 8 35 33 AMPhoto Aug 27, 11 18 02 AMPhoto Aug 27, 11 36 09 AMPhoto Aug 29, 2 49 10 PMPhoto Aug 28, 8 20 01 AMPhoto Aug 28, 8 20 02 AMPhoto Aug 28, 8 20 47 AMPhoto Aug 30, 4 58 20 PMPhoto Aug 30, 5 02 24 PMPhoto Aug 31, 1 23 08 PMPhoto Aug 31, 6 18 39 PMPhoto Sep 01, 12 09 32 PM

And, . . . I love that the very thing that is making life hard right now also happens to bring me utter joy; also happens to be one of my very favorite things in all of existence. You don’t get difficulties like that very often!
Photo Aug 23, 5 21 41 PMPhoto Aug 26, 7 43 27 AMPhoto Aug 23, 5 24 57 PMPhoto Aug 26, 7 43 31 AMPhoto Aug 26, 8 13 03 PMPhoto Aug 26, 11 37 12 AMPhoto Aug 28, 6 27 37 PMPhoto Aug 26, 11 37 15 AMPhoto Aug 28, 6 28 18 PMPhoto Aug 28, 7 14 47 PM (1)Photo Aug 28, 6 28 32 PMPhoto Aug 28, 9 25 09 AM

(But geez, maybe take it easy on the metaphors next time, Nancy!)


Michele Johnson said...

I love the imagery of the tight-rope walker. Hey! Try it with a unicycle...while juggling...with a blind-fold! Oh, how I understand that metaphor! Still, I am grateful for those times when my capacity has been stretched to handle double what I thought I could.

Marilyn said...

Ah yes, the unmade beds of life. Ha ha. Just kidding. I totally get this and I think it's quite profound, actually. I like the idea that getting used to all these new challenges (a few at a time) will lead up to a big, amazing, show-stopping performance at the end of it all. :) Someone in conference referred to certain kids that are giving their parents a "parenthood 501" graduate course, and I liked that too. It helps to think that the hard things are just that much more rewarding, once you've mastered them. (Or just stumbled through them. Whatever.) :)
PS I'm one of those who never makes my bed. My mom would be horrified if she knew--so hopefully she never will. It's not something I'm proud of, just something that gradually came to be…and now feels impossible to change. Maybe someday I'll manage to make a habit of it again, though (while juggling flaming swords).

Val said...

Yep...hard it is, but ooooohh, the cuuuuuteness! :) You're right, you don't get difficulties like that all the time!

Kara said...

Just keep swimming..,,,, what do we do........ Just keep swimming.

Nancy said...

Thanks girls! These comments felt like I just escaped my kids and went (virtually) to lunch with friends who validated, sympathized and then made me laugh (loved the making a bed while juggling flaming swords! Ha!).

Marilyn, you don't remember who gave that talk, do you? I have a sister who I think would love it right now.

Marilyn said...

Okay, found it and just re-read it--it really is a good one. Here's the link:

Hope you and your bed are having a nice evening! :)

Nancy said...

Ha! I was in bed reading your blog post! Thanks so much for finding the talk! Can't wait to read it!

jami said...

while your life may be full of unmade beds (and beautiful new babies), and all those other struggles of raising kids, i love the images you capture -- and just the love and happiness in the faces of your kids. and yours. you are amazing, lady. i could feel it through the yard, a long time ago. :)

Nancy said...

Jami, that was such a nice comment. Thank you far away friend!

Kara said...

Okay. I recently figured out my "unmade bed."

It's the kitchen/dining room floor. I must sweep everyday. If I keep the table wiped up I feel extra on top of life and all the other chaos is less.

So there you go. Thanks. Haha.

Nancy said...

Hahaha. That gave me a good laugh this morning, Kara. I love that we all have these trivial things that -- when done, make us feel in control, and, when not done . . . make us feel like life is spinning away from us! I hope you don't meet any days where you are forced to leave that floor unswept any time soon! Ha!

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