Livin’ the dream, baby
Sometimes life just sucks and there’s no way around it.
My family once went on a trip. An hour and a half into our drive, five-year-old Avery started moaning about an upset stomach. The moans escalated into wails, then became intolerable, incessant shrieks.
Thirteen-year-old Alex and seven-year-old Libby begged her to stop, which did nothing but add to the noise.
Queen Karina anxiously searched for the next exit while I took Avery into my lap to try to calm her down.
Jealous that Avery got to be unbuckled, three-year-old Laela got into the act, howling that she wanted me to hold her too.
We found an exit, pulled off into a Subway parking lot, and dragged the whole caravan inside with no shortage of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
Everyone went to the bathroom — a tedious process, as anyone with kids can attest.
Then Laela started acting up, so Karina took her outside for a time out. Meanwhile, Avery said she was cold, so I went back to the car to get her jacket.
As I passed Karina dealing with stubborn Laela, I gave her a kiss and said, “We’re livin’ the dream, baby, livin’ the dream.”
Yeah, it was sarcastic. But it’s also true.
Not for anything would I trade my family pandemonium, complete with ear-piercing shrieking, poopy diapers, discarded suckers clinging to the carpet, food spills, stepping on sharp toys in the middle of the night, and sleep deprivation.
Real-life dreams aren’t devoid of challenges; they’re defined and enhanced by them. As author Jenkin Lloyd Jones said,
“Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he’s been robbed. The fact is that most putts don’t drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to just be people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time rail journey: delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling burst of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”
Sometimes all we can do is hang on and endure. We may not be floating on clouds of bliss, but we don’t have to be miserable, either.
Conscious gratitude goes a long way in these situations. We can widen our lens and see a bigger picture.
While Avery was shrieking, we were driving in a perfect car on perfect roads in a free country with money in the bank. We have family and friends who love us and perfect health. I’m able to earn a great living doing what I love from the comfort of my home. We have cell phones that connect with people across the country, take pictures and record videos, check email, give us driving directions.
A thousand more amazing blessings could easily be counted.
It’s also helpful to remember that each stage in life comes with its own set of challenges, along with its own blessings.
Our little three-year-old Laela Grace unrolls the toilet paper and leaves ice on the floor from the refrigerator ice dispenser now. But she also says “You my bes’ frien’ ever be” so sweetly that it makes my heart ache. When she grows out of the menacing phase, we’ll also lose so much of what we love about her.
She wakes us up every night now. But we know there will come a day when we’ll long for the middle-of-the-night cuddling we get with her as a result.
Every time our little kids wreak havoc and we feel like we’ve reached our limits, Queen Karina and I look at each other and start singing the song “You’re Gonna Miss This” by Trace Adkins:
You’re gonna miss this,
You’re gonna want this back
You’re gonna wish these days
Hadn’t gone by so fast.
These are some good times,
So take a good look around
You may not know it now
But you’re gonna miss this.
So when life sucks, just hang on and remember it will get better. It’s rarely as bad as it seems in the moment.
And it’s all part of livin’ the dream.