I’ve had chronic fatigue for the last nine years and I sometimes feel I’m not good enough—not able to give my best to my family. We’ve found a normal that works for us, though it looks different from other families. My husband, Brian does more around the house and while I’m deeply grateful, I also feel inadequate because he has to do it on top of his stressful job.
This last year, our normal was disrupted by a lot of unexpected stress. First we had to sell our home and move and when we were beginning to get settled in the new house, Brian became very sick. He went through testing and eventually had to have surgery. In the aftermath, my fatigue was worse than it had ever been.
This is when Brian had to take a trip and I was in charge of the kids. One evening I told them, “I’m super tired and grumpy, but I want to have fun with you tonight. Let’s go out for supper and we can eat outside since the weather’s so nice.” They agreed and I put on some happy music to try to turn my mood around. Typically, this helps, but not this time. We ordered our food and sat outside.
While we were eating, I just barely hung on. I wasn’t super pleasant, I wasn’t laughing at their jokes, I was just existing. When they told me a long story, I tried to look interested. When they told me the times and dates of events coming up, I felt overwhelmed.
We got in the car and drove home where I sat on the couch and cried. My kids came over and sat down on either side of me, put their arms around me and leaned their heads on my shoulders so my face was smooshed between their heads. They were patting me and one squeezed my hand twice, which in our family is code for, I love you. They let me cry and when I got calmed down, I told them, “You guys are the best. Thanks for letting me cry. Your snuggles help so much.”
They asked why I was crying and I said, “I’m just so frustrated because I wanted to have a good evening and be a sweet, fun mom, but I was too tired. Sometimes when I’ve been tired for so long, it feels like I always will be and that makes me really sad.”
My daughter said, “You’re still the best mom in the world.”
I said, “Really? How do you feel that way when I’m being grumpy? Do you just remember other times when I was nice?”
Then my son said, “Mom, you’ve taken care of us all these times.” And then he said, “You’re the reason we are the way we are.”
Now if my heart were an ocean, his words were like a stone that sunk all the way to the bottom, to the very spot where I feel I’m not enough for my family. And I knew they were God’s words to me.
In times when I dig deeper and all I find is more crap, it feels like failure. It feels like if I were a GOOD mom, I’d be able to find it. But we DO love each other for the SCOPE of who we are, not who we are in a single moment. When someone we love is struggling, and not they’re best selves, we remember the other parts of them and it helps us weather the times they’re at their worst.
And because kids forgive us and have hearts of GOLD, they somehow collect together all the times we’ve been there for them, when we’ve been compassionate, laughed at their jokes and listened curiously to their long stories.
We need to know this, straight from God’s heart to ours. “You’re enough. Well done. You have a good heart.” This is the word I received from the Lord, through my kids and I’m passing it along to you. Our shortcomings do not stop the work God is doing in our world. And because Jesus is everything and we are partnered with him, we can give our little bit of whatever to him, and together, we are indeed enough.