Life is hard. Being an adult is hard. But we know hard. We know the down and dirty, muck and mess and barely making it out alive. In this day and age, having comparisons and expectations of a perfect world do not make it any easier. How can we compare ourselves to the social media perfect when we may not have the same strengths or weaknesses, and they are showing the best face they want you to see? From the bright-eyed newlywed or significant other, to the seasoned spouse with kids out of the house and retirement approaching, we are each in a different stage of our lives.
I am in the season of little kids and a husband constantly deployed; where LEGOs underfoot are commonplace, and cartoons are on re-run (I’m pretty sure I can recite all of them by heart). And more often than not, there is laundry; dishes and chores always ready to attack around the corner. Add on top of that, my significant other being deployed, forget it, it calls for survival mode.
You know what I’m talking about… where you question how you are going to make it through your day. When you ask yourself what is the bare minimum that I need to accomplish today, and then you are still questioning your sanity.
I don’t know about you, but I look around, and all I see are the moms or women who have it all put together, perfect hair, clean kitchen and not to mention they are volunteering to help those around them. Especially on the days that I am struggling to hold it together, I usually look to them and get down on myself that I don’t have it all together; that I am outnumbered, that I am the only one that can’t get dinner on the table, and feels constantly flustered.
For all the work that other people do in their daily lives, there is a misnomer: that they have it all figured out. But here is the funny thing. They don’t. Now, they may have their guard up and not admit to the world that they are just like us. But they don’t. Social media has trained us all to put our favorite on the little screen to show the world. I know most of the time I would much rather show my kids being perfect or a drink in my hand. Or as a businesswoman, I would rather have all deadlines met and time to spare to gloat about it. But this isn’t the truth; we can’t be everything to everyone. We can’t say yes to everyone and still have our sanity.
Most of us have the odds stacked up against us, too much on our plate. It doesn’t matter if you have the flexibility to travel, volunteer for those in need, or you are by yourself isolated, we all have our own burden. But remember, we are the majority. We all are running a race towards our own goals and juggling priorities. The great thing is, over time that burden will shift and lift. Our priorities will change. And we will have the ability to have a cup of coffee with a new friend, or have your spouse back to help with the laundry (thank you my dear husband). We may not do extraordinary things… but we lead extraordinary lives every single day.
We need to be honest with what we are, and what is around us. Celebrate YOUR little victories. Are your kids fed, have you arrived at work today… are you dressed? If the answer is yes to one of these then you are doing great! Now I’m not saying to give yourself a trophy for every task you have completed (but if you want to send me one, I’ll take a shiny tiara), but acknowledge where you are and what stage you are in, and accept this. Provide yourself a little grace.
Grace by definition is to provide kindness, mercy or pardon. And why shouldn’t we provide ourselves a little grace? Like I said, life is messy. To live our own happy, we need the ability to be confident in our choices and what is best for us. Don’t be fooled by the choices other military spouses are making. It may not be the best thing for you that day! They may be doing exceptional things that you could never imagine. Your clean kitchen is their messy hair. And their volunteering is your cup of coffee. You don’t know what gives them a release on a day-to-day basis.
The greatest thing is, when you allow yourself that grace, will you see the light in your own home. Light that is there daily. The mess will never go away, but if you have your priorities in your own life understood. You will have the ability to celebrate your life, begin to share the vulnerability, and truly celebrate both yours and others’ successes however little or large they may be.
At each season’s end you will look back and have every set of emotions, but remember you are doing the best that you can with the information that you have at that very moment! Could we always do better? Sure. Though, don’t compare yourselves to your peers, and know that you are in the majority. Most of the military spouses are feeling the same way you are. So, provide a little grace and understanding to each other, and most importantly to you. You are someone’s happy. To those around you, you do amazing things and the happiness and grace that you can afford will help make surviving a little less messy and definitely more enjoyable.