When All Seems A Mess, We Can Choose What Next?

It is Wednesday. It is “hump day” – the day when you realize you’re halfway through the week and things are supposed to be looking up. For me, today, it has seemed like a symphony of failures. Our teenager (passionately) complained about the upcoming weekend plans and how they are totally “unfair“ since it involves spending time with his three siblings and not the new girlfriend. My three-year-old ran around in circles screaming not because anything was wrong but just because that’s what three-year-old boys do. I did my absolute best to run an hour-long service workshop for other people’s kids to give people something meaningful and beautiful to do with an hour of their day, and the technology failed out of the gate. And that was followed by a conversation with our school principal around why we have chosen to home school for the coming semester (or maybe year), something I swore I would never even contemplate. I am no teacher. Believe me. I feel as though I am preparing for defeat.
But this is where we are. I don’t think I ever imagined living through a pandemic, let alone parenting through one. I have four kids. I have seen hard things. My first one had colic and didn’t sleep through the night for 13 months, as I worked full time and finished grad school. I had my last at almost 42, something not for the faint of heart, to be sure. 
And yet, I am fully aware that my trials and tribulations pale in comparison to so many. I guess that is where I sit at the end of this day. I have the choice to fixate on the hard realities of my day and focus on how I can make tomorrow easier for myself, or I can choose to remind myself that this too shall  pass, and I am better served by focusing on how I can touch the lives of others rather than wallow in my own defeats. Maybe that sounds pious, but I consider myself no better – morally or otherwise –  than the next person. But I have come to appreciate that it seems in focusing outward, we seem to heal the inward parts too. In realizing we have the ability to help other people with their problems, ours take on new light, and those we help often help us even more. Sometimes I say these things to my children also to convince myself. I know it to be true, but all of us need reminders sometimes.
As I look around at the state of affairs in this country, whether it be the debate over mask wearing, school reopening, police brutality, or other equally charged matters, I can’t help but wonder if we all spent our time looking outward, doing the little things we can to help one another, rather than inward and on our own perspective, if we might just bring some peace to ourselves and to our nation. If nothing more, we would at least increase our understanding of those on the other side of the debate(s), and maybe our empathy too. 
This mom is desperate for a little more peace. I know I’m not alone. Tomorrow I will be greeted by a noisy toddler demanding cereal and milk, no doubt by 6:30 a.m., and I will get to make my choices all over again. I hope I will recommit to what I have come to know – we are better and stronger when we live and serve and love one another, especially on the hard days.