By Stacey Philpot
“Not to be mean, Mommy, but Daddy is nicer than you.”
These are the words my five-year-old daughter graces me with as she fills our minivan with her endless chatter. So far, I’ve been chastised for my lack of passion in response, my tendency to stare blankly ahead, and general lack of entertainment value.
I wonder silently if Daddy might not maintain his position as the superior parent if he, too, had more diagnoses pinned to him than he could count or be bothered to remember on any given day. Five-year-olds don’t account for such things. Nor do they allow grace for things like your current strep infection, or what seems to be bleeding ulcer in your gastrointestinal track.
“Drive me to Hobby Lobby to pick out crafts, and be fun and exciting while you do it!” they demand.
Somehow, I always seem to fall short.
My teenage son approaches my bedroom door tenuously. Am I awake or asleep? Am I in pain? Available? I struggle to provide presence as he confides he’s experiencing a crisis at school among his peers. Even as I fight to engage, to offer solace and guidance, my eyes fight to close.
My husband approaches me on the bed. “Can he be close to me?” he wants to know. I’m his wife. It seems like such an innocent, simple request. At this moment it feels like he’s asking me to birth an elephant for his sheer entertainment.
I swallow the urge to cry. I’m drowning in my not-enoughness.
I hold my daughter’s hand and walk her into preschool as she chatters excitedly about the day’s activities. I silently will myself to stay upright. Surveying the moms to my left and right I find bright, cheery faces, happy exchanges. I swallow the urge to cry. I’m drowning in my not enoughness.
How do other people do it, I wonder? How do they meet all of the needs and look fabulous while doing so? When was the last time I brushed my hair?
I look at the faces of the ones I love. Do they know I’m giving them everything I have? Do they know every coherent moment; every almost somewhat somewhere close to feeling okay minute is offered joyfully to them? Do they understand I choose them?
“When will you be done being sick?” my daughter asks me. “ I don’t know,” I answer honestly. “But I will never be finished loving you. I will never be done fighting for you. I’ll never be done giving you all I have.”
Will she learn? Will she realize her life may not always be easy, but love can flourish in the midst of fight? Will she someday look back and see my love cost me more? Will I remember offering all I am is all there is?
Perhaps the simple truth is none of us is enough, and that’s why we need one another. Maybe there’s no shame, but beauty to be found in this. Could it be this is where connections and community are birthed?
Are we all alike in our not-enoughness and yet beautiful and strong in the offering of all we are? I think so.
Stacey is an author, goofball and avid reader. You can find her blog at chronicallywhole.com where she endeavors to encourage other warriors like herself along in their journey of battling for health and discovering wholeness. She is mom to Hayden and Avery, stepmom to Julie and wife to Ryan (a smarty pants who works at NASA and logs their whole life on spreadsheets and pie charts, true story!) She has a strange affinity for eating whole meals in bed (don’t tell anyone) and is convinced smelling old books will make her smarter.