Contentment. That’s the word of the day. That’s the elusive concept that I try so hard to grasp but can never seem to hold on to.
It’s been a really difficult semester of work, in many ways. Emotionally heavy content in one class. Crazy amounts of work and disorganization in the other. The kids and I have been battling sickness for almost a month. I have been at the end of my rope for what feels like a long, long time.
But today I submitted my last paper of the semester. I somehow managed to get three papers finished (two written from start to finish) in the past 10 days. And I have been longing for this day to come for such a long time. My stack of books and downloaded articles on gerontology and palliative care has been getting bigger and bigger, and all I’ve wanted was to have no more deadlines so I can sit and enjoy this subject which I so want to know more about.
I’ve been longing for this day. And I submitted my last paper this afternoon to a resounding anti-climax. No fanfare. No thankful pause. Not even a sense of relief.
I just looked around at our house which has slowly been getting messier and messier as the weeks of deadlines and illness have kept coming and all I saw was more work.
I think this is my biggest struggle in life: when there is more work I find it difficult to really relax. And guess what? There is always more work. Some people are so good at balancing out all of the everyday things of life. I’m not. Sure I can tackle big things pretty well. But I just can never keep up with the everyday stuff. I really want to. But I don’t know how. And I never feel on top of things in my home life.
Baby steps, Dixie-chan. A handful of years ago I did not know how to relax. I would feel guilty if I sat and watched a movie in the evening. I’m not there anymore. I know how to relax guilt-free. But I still don’t know how to be content, it seems. I’m not sure what that even means to me. Does it mean a clean and organized house? Does it mean having less stuff? (Certainly, it can’t mean having more stuff!)
I guess I look around the house and see mess instead of things that make me happy… And as I write this, Madeline is walking in the door from a birthday party, and the first words I hear out of her mouth are a huge, whining complaint about having to share her bed with her sister who wanted to sleep with her tonight. Discontentment. Everywhere. I’m so sick of it.
But what do we expect? We are discontent and so we breed discontentment. And I can’t stand it anymore.
I hope and pray that a few weeks without deadlines and external pressure will give me not only perspective but some time to do the things of value in this house — the things that will help us find satisfaction and happiness, instead of grumpiness and complaints.
Maybe I just have wrong expectations about life. I know we can’t be happy all the time, that we don’t need to be happy all the time. But do we really need to be so unhappy? And so unhappy especially when there is so much good that surrounds us and fills our home?
I’m just tired. I’m just burnt out, and over-worked, and emotionally spent. And a good night’s sleep will help. But I don’t think a thousand good sleeps can take away this lingering feeling of discontentment… What am I missing?