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.)
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.
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!