It’s mid-December, and the children have left in a flurry for the bus stop. I stand in the kitchen, refill my coffee cup, and survey the damage before I get ready for work. The counter is covered with almost every condiment from the fridge and pantry—every base of breakfast and lunch prep covered. There are dirty dishes piled high from last night. A couple glasses from last night’s bourbon sit by the sink. Coffee grounds sprinkle the counter like confetti. There are two antibiotic bottles out, one to treat Lucy’s strep throat and one to treat a tooth abscess Ren developed last week. There’s a bag of Phenergan suppositories —a script I got filled yesterday in case Lucy gets another migraine.
There are days when parenthood feels excruciatingly hard. Driving my kids around in the late afternoons, the sky already growing dark, I think, “What is this life?” Sometimes it all feels futile, like I’m driving in circles, or like I’m pouring myself into a leaking vessel. I find great satisfaction in drawing slashes with my black Sharpie through the boxes on my calendar, signifying appointments and duties I’ve fulfilled. But the calendar always fills up again. Even sex is scheduled.
My husband and I are in the grind of life, and I know we must be faithful to all of the decisions that led us here as a family. Metaphorically speaking, the car is packed, the people are in, the destination is set, and now we just have to drive. We’ve shifted gears, and we’ve got this endless road ahead of us, kind of like that stretch of highway between San Antonio and El Paso. It’s flat, dry, and a little like the twilight zone. You drive all damn day, and you’re still in the same state.
If I’m honest, I sometimes wonder what God was thinking, creating all of us. It seems like He had it made before the creation of man. The deep dark ocean, light and stars, animals who didn’t talk back to him! Why would He create man, knowing what it would eventually cost Him to bring about our redemption—the life of His own son? Dirty dishes and endless carpools are such a tiny reflection of the mess and long-suffering God has endured in His relationship with us over the course of time. I sometimes struggle to believe the heartache was worth it. Wouldn’t it have been better to exist in silent and perfect blackness? I’ve wondered this since I was a kid.
There’s something holy in the fact that God would sacrifice perfection and ease for the sake of love.
For me, parenting has put me uncomfortably in touch with this realization. There’s clearly nothing that God wouldn’t do for love, which still confounds me. It makes me wonder how far I am willing to go for love and why life can still feel like a futile battle to me. I think this is an area where my faith still needs to grow.
I feel that God is inviting me trust in His bigger picture when I can’t see past the monotonous treadmill, to find the humor, and especially gratitude, in this bizarre existence. Sometimes I feel like a sell-out, living this suburban life. Shouldn’t I be doing something more radical? Maybe cross another ocean, adopt another child? But the truth is, it’s all I can do to care for the people right in front of me, and dreaming of a new venture is typically a self-created distraction to temporarily make my life seem more exciting or impressive.
I have to remind myself daily that my life isn’t all about me. Imagine that! I’m not even the main character. God is doing something bigger than I can fathom, and I don’t even have to understand it in order to take part! My particular role in this story is to be faithful to the practical details of loving people well, which is not nearly as “romantic” as I once imagined. Faith, like love, is not always about grand gestures. Its substance is often tested and proven in the humdrum moments when I wonder, “What’s the point of this?”
This Christmas, I’ve been thinking, what better reminder of God’s love than the Incarnation. Redemption has come through an ordinary woman, the dark sky closing in on her, her body literally covered in the mess of life. I like to think that Mary sometimes wondered if the whole thing was some sort of sick joke, giving birth to a divinely conceived child in a barn. All the while, even when she couldn’t see it, the great miracle of God’s heart was mysteriously pouring through her.
Libby Kurz holds a BS in Nursing and an MFA in Creative Writing. Her work has been published in The Poet’s Billow, Relief Journal, Driftwood Press, Literary Mama, and Ruminate. A veteran of the US Air Force, she now resides on the coast of Virginia with her family. When she’s not reading, writing, and keeping tabs on her three kids, she works as registered nurse and teaches poetry workshops. She loves a good cup of coffee, bohemian home decor, bumming on the beach, and finding meaning in the ordinary moments of life. You can find her at https://libbykurz.com