"I feel sad," I told my husband on the way home from the restaurant. We had decided to take the kids out to dinner because we were too exhausted to cook. Didn't turn out well. The veggies were overcooked. Me, being in Honest Mode, complained and earned some free kids meals. It helped that they made it right, but I would have rather had the crisp, green, fresh looking broccoli in time enough for the broccoli-loving baby to enjoy it. No such luck. The toddler melts down and we have to leave and wrangle the sad baby, who is overtired and wants to run around the restaurant, into his car seat.
"That stinks," my husband says, frowning thoughtfully.
The baby falls asleep. My older son's eyes still watery from his own meltdown. And my sadness hanging in the air as I watch the bright, lovely green treetops pass by the window.
I'm thinking too, about broccoli and tears and lots of things that have nothing to do with either of those.
My husband ventures tentatively into the realm of validation. "It was a pretty stressful night."
"That's not why I'm sad, though." I'm not looking at him. I'm looking out the window. "You know those big heavy suit storage bags?" (Garment bags they are called, Google says.) "Those things are so heavy when they have a tux in them. I feel like I'm carrying around several and looking for someplace to hang them. I want to hang them on you but I feel like you are holding out a stick and if I try to hang them on it, it will break." I reach out to him and waggle my hand, pretending to try to hang something on him. It occurs to me that my hand must look rather like a claw.
Ben chuckles a little and says kindly, "Not sure how I feel about you trying to hang your problems on me."
His laughter frees me a little. For a moment, I can see beyond my feeling and I chuckle a little, too. "I'm not saying it's a good feeling. It's just how I feel." I keep talking. I tell him that maybe I should just clean out the closet and toss the extra garments. Our clothing racks are so weighed down with clothes that they bend down in the middle. Telling.
"It's ok if all you have to offer me right now is a stick. I know you are exhausted." Looking back if he were trying to hang his problems on me, possibly all I would have to offer him is a pencil, or even a straw.
"Perhaps I should change my expectations," I tell him. "Perhaps if I can't hang my problems on you I need to get rid of my problems or find a stronger rod. I'll hang them on Jesus," I say, knowing it's the right answer.
When knowledge converts to action, when problems are made right, I feel such satisfaction. I feel wholeness. Knowledge isn't satisfying to me anymore. I want satisfaction that lasts.
My head wraps around the words in this essay as I'm changing my baby's diaper. The little guy's head molds into my shoulder as he drifts into sleep. My husband is kneeling on the floor talking with our toddler. We catch each other's eyes and just as I am aware of the smile on my own lips that has unbidden come, I also see his smile.
When he says, "I love you," I melt into the feeling of warmth. I'm rising up. I'm free.