As I alluded in my previous post (thanks for the encouragement!), I’ve been feeling really frustrated these days. The peaceful zen of our winter has given way to a riotous, chaotic spring, and I’m not sure what to do with it all. The riot and chaos is all in me. Everywhere I look I see things I have failed to do, and while I am trying my best to just accept that that is part and parcel of being home with two small children in a fixer-upper while also managing a part-time job from home (not to mention trying to pursue personal goals and hobbies), it is really hard. Is the chaos just something I have to accept, or is it a result of poor planning and decision-making on my part?

A large part of the frustration is that I am irritated with myself, because I can’t help believing it’s the latter. Maybe because it’s easier to blame myself for living in a house that’s strewn with duplos and toy dinosaurs instead of one with perfectly swept floors and clear surfaces; that way I still feel like I have some control over it. It’s not perfect because I’m just not trying hard enough.

Of course I realize how ridiculous that sounds, and I know that the chaos right now is probably a little bit of both, and that I need to be able to forgive myself for being too tired at night to pick up the duplos, too scattered to sit down and really think about my novel, and so overwhelmed sometimes that I start to shut down. Forgiveness doesn’t have to mean that I think it’s okay, or that I don’t have to strive to do better. But I do have to work harder at not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.

I’ve realized something about the frustration I’m feeling: I’m letting it control me. I’m resisting it instead of breathing through it, and that only makes it harder.

See how God redeems even my worst character flaws? This frustration that I feel is working to refine and mature me — as a mother, as a Christian, as a person. Instead of resenting my frustration and allowing it to make me irritable and overwhelmed, I can take a step back, acknowledge what’s good (even if it’s not perfect) and what I can do in the moment to get past it. I spent much of today doing that, and you know what? I feel so much more in control of things. Imagine that.

Life, not just motherhood, is an exercise in sanctification if you allow it to be. But motherhood can be like a crucible for this sort of thing, a greenhouse for less-than-pleasant personal growth. I get the feeling that right now, maybe I’m not meant to not be frustrated. And maybe it’s okay that I feel discouraged. When I was in mourning, I often reminded myself that feeling sad was normal and that I didn’t have to try to run away from sadness. Maybe now I don’t have to run away from feeling frustrated. Instead of resisting it, I can sit with it for a while and try to learn from it, and know that it doesn’t have to be the one in charge. Like holding a challenging yoga pose, I can just keep breathing.

And that makes me feel so much better.

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(Gardening: a good exercise in both frustration and hope. Above is a speck of green that will someday, I hope, be a salad.)