I wake up feel­ing ex­hausted, sore, and old (I’m only 32). My kids have been ask­ing me for about 20 min­utes to get up and fix their break­fast, so I fi­nally drag my­self out of bed. I put on the clothes I wear every day, a t-shirt and some shorts. As I comb my hair and brush my teeth, I gaze at the pale skin on my face, the bags un­der my eyes, the life­less cheeks and lips. I sigh and trudge to the kitchen.


There are only eggs to eat since I did­n’t plan ahead prop­erly. The sink and counter are full of dishes, with food fos­siliz­ing on them from the last five days. I bet­ter wash some to­day, or I won’t have any clean dishes to cook din­ner with.


After break­fast we get ready for school. To make space for my hus­band and kids, I move the clean laun­dry pile that has been im­mo­bile for two days to a dif­fer­ent part of the couch. I make a men­tal note for the next time I go up­stairs: take out the load that’s still in the dryer, and wash and dry two more loads so we’ll have some­thing to wear to­mor­row.


My two old­est chil­dren ask me if I’ve fin­ished fix­ing some dearly beloved bro­ken toys; I snap ir­ri­ta­bly that I haven’t, but that they’ll be the first to know. The dam­age oc­curred weeks ago, but they still ask me every day and re­ceive the same an­swer.


The baby later comes by scream­ing and point­ing at the ce­real box, de­mand­ing that it be her snack. I yell back that she needs to have a healthy snack since we had some sugar ear­lier, and any­way she should have asked nicely.


After din­ner I leave all the crumbs on the floor around the table. I’ve al­ready swept four times to­day, and there will just be more added first thing at break­fast to­mor­row.


Once the kids are in bed I crave for­get­ful­ness and obliv­ion, so I spend the next 2 hours scrolling through Facebook and Pinterest. I even­tu­ally lose in­ter­est and flip through a novel, but can’t muster any real de­sire for even this slight pro­duc­tiv­ity.


As I shower I re­mem­ber some thinking of you” notes, un­writ­ten and un­sent to my fam­ily mem­bers, and with a sink­ing heart I re­al­ize to­day was the dead­line those notes were needed.


At the end of the day, I am a fail­ure. Can’t keep a clean house, even though I stay home all day; on the days I could, I in­stead waste time. I want my kids to know I love them, but I don’t show them by fix­ing what’s re­ally im­por­tant to them. I want them to grow into emo­tion­ally and men­tally sta­ble adults, but pro­ceed to lose my tem­per with them. And what good am I as a friend, when I can’t even do right by my fam­ily? For that mat­ter, when was the last time I re­ally put any ef­fort into my re­la­tion­ship with my hus­band? I’m a waste of space as a per­son. What’s the point of me and my life?

These have been my thoughts many a night. I fi­nally broke down and be­wailed my worth­less­ness to my hus­band. His re­sponse: You bear God’s im­age. You’re spe­cial to Him, and He loves you. I love you, and your fam­ily loves you.” And he hugged me as long as I needed.

As I rolled over to go to sleep, a truth from sci-fi and fan­tasy books pre­sented it­self with sud­den clar­ity: names have power. I am the wretch de­scribed above; but I am also more.

I may be a slob com­pared to some women, but I am PRACTICAL. Wearing nice clothes would be lu­di­crous while wash­ing dishes, cook­ing din­ner, wash­ing clothes, chang­ing di­a­pers, and clean­ing the house. I cer­tainly have good hy­giene—when it comes to my body, it stays clean. I don’t put on makeup be­cause there’s not re­ally time for more than the ba­sics of good hy­giene in the morn­ing, and any­way it would get rubbed off through­out the day on fur­ni­ture or cloth­ing as I play with the kids. Ditto for putting my hair in an updo. I’m go­ing to be less harsh in judg­ing my ap­pear­ance.

I am lazy; not gonna sug­ar­coat that one. But I’m also RESTING. When I’m tired my body starts shut­ting down, turn­ing any task I’m per­form­ing into a dif­fi­cult chore that takes 2-3 times as long. If I wait a day or two un­til I have the en­ergy, I can com­plete the task much more ef­fi­ciently and cheer­fully. And since I’m my own man­ager, I’m go­ing to stop car­ing that my house is­n’t run like everyone else’s.” I’m per­form­ing ac­cord­ing to my strengths and weak­nesses.

I am dis­or­dered, but I’m IMPROVING. Disorder comes nat­u­rally out of hav­ing 3 kids un­der the age of 6, but each night I strive to have every toy be­long­ing to the chil­dren put away. I en­cour­age them to put things away as soon as they’re done with them, and I ap­ply that rule to my­self. The laun­dry may sit a cou­ple days on the couch, but that does­n’t mean I’m let­ting the whole house fall to ruin ei­ther. And in my room at least, I’m do­ing my very best to keep my stuff tidy and neat.

Procrastination goes hand-in-hand with lazi­ness, so there’s a lot of truth here. But I do REPAIR things. Much gets bro­ken in a house with kids, and some of it is more press­ing than an­other bro­ken toy. There are pages torn out of books, holes torn in clothes, screws taken out of fur­ni­ture, dishes shat­tered, car­pet torn up, shoe racks falling apart, and on and on. And my kids aren’t demons, just or­di­nary kids. Heck, even my hus­band and I break things. So it’s no won­der I don’t want to spend all my free time fix­ing stuff. Add to that my nat­ural for­get­ful­ness, and some­times stuff stays bro­ken awhile. But I do even­tu­ally get things fixed, and there is sat­is­fac­tion in bring­ing back to life what I can. And the grat­i­tude and love in my chil­dren’s eyes tells me that they for­give the wait.

I have a dread­ful tem­per. I don’t re­call hav­ing one be­fore I had kids, but its pres­ence is un­de­ni­able now. There are days I am a tyrant. But I am GROWING. I al­ways apol­o­gize for yelling, and tell my chil­dren that los­ing con­trol was wrong. I ex­plain how their be­hav­ior made me want to re­spond wrongly, but that it does­n’t ex­cuse my own mis­be­hav­ior. I do not suc­ceed every time with con­trol­ling my tem­per, but there is im­prove­ment. Wrong habits are easy to form, and dif­fi­cult to break, but I will not give up try­ing to break this one.

I’m done feel­ing piti­ful for not sweep­ing the crumbs up for the fifth time. There are times we need to rec­og­nize when to quit, and this is one of them. Plus, I’m PREGNANT. There’s only so much en­ergy for each day; re­do­ing the same task times in­fin­ity each day is un­sus­tain­able. I’ll feel like it to­mor­row. Or I might have the kids sweep up their mess; they’re old enough.

I do seek the com­fort of to­tal obliv­ion far too of­ten, but I’m HUMAN. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest, af­ter all. One thing that has helped is to set a time limit on my mind­less ac­tiv­i­ties—10 min­utes per day for Facebook and Pinterest each. By re­serv­ing a smaller time slot, I be­come more in­vested in the friends I read about, and more fo­cused on the pro­jects I want to start. Setting this cap has also forced me to be­gin look­ing else­where for men­tal pur­suits—I’ve been do­ing re­search in sev­eral ar­eas that in­ter­est me, and I’ve made some progress on pro­jects I’ve long put off.

I don’t stay in touch with peo­ple like I should. But I am LOVING. It’s pre­cisely be­cause I do care about the dif­fer­ent peo­ple in my life that I do reach out to them, even if it’s only once a year. Again, this area needs im­prove­ment. Yet again, that does­n’t mean I am heart­less. I have the sat­is­fac­tion of know­ing that any promise I make to my friends and fam­ily I ful­fill, be­cause I love them.

At the end of the day, I am FORGIVEN. More than any­one else, my God and Savior loves and for­gives me, in spite of know­ing me bet­ter than any­one else.

At the end of the day, I am BLESSED. I have a hus­band who sees me at my worst, yet chooses to see the best in me (and helps me see it, too). My chil­dren think I’m the best mommy in the world, horns and all. My friends have yet to be scared off, so my luck still holds in that re­gard. There’s cer­tainly room for im­prove­ment in the life of Melissa Koser; but there’s also room for GRACE.