But It Could Be So Much Worse!


Nobody has every accused me of being a Pollyanna. I’m not really a glass-half-full kind of a girl. Keeping on the sunny side of life isn’t my forte; instead, I married someone who is the happy sun I need in my life and I am the realistic and necessary clouds in his. You get my drift here.


Lately, life has been hard, though. Really hard. We’re adjusting to parenthood with (surprise!) newborn twins who are awful sleepers and our older two children. My mother passed away a year ago and now not only am I trying to process that devastating grief, but I’m missing her in very practical ways, too.

My mother-in-law, who I am very close with, took a terrible fall on her road trip to stay with us to help with the babies and is immobilized in a cast for a few months. We are essentially parenting without a safety net, and it feels terrifying. My son has a rash that disrupts his sleep with endless itching and scars his skin and as of yet, a dermatologist has been unable to diagnose it. Add to the mix, our 15-year-old dog who is losing all bladder control but is still well enough that euthanizing her isn’t yet the right choice, and I’m feeling a little… well… a lot, actually, overwhelmed.

But on my heavier days, on the days when it feels like it’s going to be ages before things get better, when I am beyond exhausted – covered in baby poop and standing in a puddle of dog pee – I remind myself of one sentence.

It could be so much worse.

That’s not to say it isn’t hard right now, whatever I’m going through. I acknowledge that to myself before moving on to make an actual physical list of things I’m thankful for. It doesn’t mean that I won’t shed a tear or two when I am up for the eighth time tonight before 5 a.m. or get frustrated by the seemingly never-ending list of requests that my children have. All of those things are hard, but when I look at the world around me or reflect on the conveniences we have in our current day and age, it forces me to put things in perspective.

The fact that I was able to have kids is something that unfairly eludes so many friends. I had an incredible mother for 35 years, and I wouldn’t trade that for 70 years with someone else. I’m so fortunate to have a good relationship with my mother-in-law and that she’d be willing to come and serve my family selflessly when we need her. My son will eventually receive the care he needs, and we don’t have to worry about the cost because my spouse covers the bill with his military service. Our dog was a faithful friend for many years and when her time comes, we will be able to replace the carpet without it straining our budget for the rest of the year.

I’ll be honest though, sometimes, this general attitude of gratitude doesn’t cut it and I’m forced to reduce it to the ridiculous.

I start to consider life 100 years ago. I don’t have to wear ridiculous skirts and heeled boots just to walk out my door, not to mention laundering said ridiculous skirts and all of the other clothes everyone in my family wears. Air conditioning and heat are things we have now, praise the Lord, and I’m not lighting any fireplaces before baking food from scratch for my huge brood every morning. My children will likely survive until adulthood, and I wasn’t all that scared going into childbirth. And let’s not even get into the toilet situation that people lived with for most all of time.

By the time I get to this part of my list, I’m usually past the woe is me and moving on to business as usual. Suddenly that pile of dishes in the kitchen sink seems a bit more manageable, and the laundry in the dryer actually gets taken out and folded. Not put away mind you, let’s not get crazy here, but folded, and I don’t even really mind doing it. Because things really could be so much worse.