I don’t like being cold.
I’ll trade the rainy warmer days for blue-sky colder ones, but I want to be able to go home at the end of the day and close my front door and be warm. But instead, my hands are like ice and my tea cools, well, conveniently fast actually. But still. I’m buried beneath four blankets, and last night I turned the oven on just for the comfort that something else in my house was emitting heat.
I learned recently that some people’s brains are designed to handle cold better than others. Some people have brains that register cold as pain. And my first thought was, “What do you mean? Not everyone feels like being cold is painful?”
I remember going to Leavenworth with friends and waiting for the tree lighting. They were all cold too, but without the element of, “No, you don’t understand, I’m going to DIE if I stay out here another second,” that I was experiencing. So I slipped into a nearby store and said peace-out to the dark silhouette of a tree: “Catch ya on the flip side. Let me know when you’re all lit up and I’ll ooh and ahh through this here window.”
My friends thought I was being a baby, or being overly dramatic. But maybe there’s a lot we don’t know about pain. And maybe two people can live through similar events and have two really different emotional experiences. And maybe all that we don’t know or understand is another call NOT TO JUDGE. And maybe we can’t always draw from our own frame of understanding and experience to try to relate to another person. Because we’re not all the same.
I just wanted a night that felt festive. I brought home pizza and ingredients to make the most chocolate-y, peppermint-y hot cocoa ever. I got out my reindeer mug and bought another sippy cup for Olivia so she could drink it on the couch.
I wanted to watch a Christmas movie and sit, all cuddled up in our pajamas under a mountain of blankets.
They wanted to watch The Lorax.
And actually, they mostly wanted to play and ask for the iPad and wipe pizza grease on furniture.
But it was okay. Because we were together.
And after dinner, I went to shower. And I exhaled deeply all the stress of the day, and I exhaled relief that I survived another week. And I exhaled the loudness- Arlow barking because there was a dog on TV that he wanted to play with, and the kids being kids.
And just as I felt some tension melt away, my phone rang. And I peeked out of the shower curtain to catch a glimpse of it vibrating on the counter and saw the caller was work.
And I was on duty overnight.
So, barely showered, barely dried off, and more than barely freezing, I called work back, trying not to think: “I just wanted a few moments of peace…” And I dealt with that situation while Theo shoved his sippy cup at me, asking for more hot cocoa, and Arlow swiped pizza off the high chair.
And I went to the kitchen to write down some phone numbers the person on the other end of the phone was giving me, and then back to the bathroom where Olivia was standing outside the door, her mouth in the shape of an “o”, pointing inside. Theo was in there, drinking from my giant glass of red pop.
“NO,” I mouthed to him, pushing the pop back further on the counter and ushering him back into the living room.
Then I went back to the kitchen to read off a phone number and call my boss to ask a question about medication delivery for a client.
Then back to the bathroom, where I saw Theo reach for the pop again, hit it with his fingertips, and spill the entire thing onto the counter and the floor, effectively staining everything pink.
So I grabbed his arm and pulled him from the bathroom while he wailed, and grabbed my bath towel, trying to soak up the mess, all the while talking to work.
And in the distance, the Christmas tree lights flickered, and The Lorax sang some song about hope, and Madison cuddled a crying Theo, and I thought: “NO. You don’t get to be the one crying.”
Eventually, we put on The Grinch, and the kids sat still for approximately fifteen seconds. Long enough to stroke their baby soft cheeks and kiss the tops of their heads and tell them I love them. Long enough to hear them giggle and feel them wrap their little arms around me, their bodies squirmy and full of energy beside me.
And then Olivia burped in my face, and Theo ran off to climb the cat tree.
And isn’t that life? I’ve used this analogy before, but I feel like I’m dying from thirst and someone’s given me a damp washcloth to suck water from. And that’s all I have. And I’m so grateful for it. But it doesn’t feel like enough.
Life is hard. It’s really, really hard.
And I keep trying to create moments of magic, moments that feel not hard and worth it and beautiful.
But all of my best efforts and intentions usually aren’t enough. Things rarely ever end up looking or feeling the way I’d hoped, and instead I’m just left feeling exhausted and sorry for myself.
But where does that leave me? Do I stop trying? Do I stop believing in and fighting for magic and beauty?
I don’t know.
All I know to do is keep my eyes heavenward and wait on my God.
And God? I’ve asked Him to be straight with me, to tell it like it is, and still He hasn’t told me to stop hoping that magic and beauty exist in this crazy world.
So I’ll keep making hot cocoa to warm the hands and put a smile on the faces of people I love. And when the house falls quiet at night, I’ll think about the people currently asleep under my roof, and how fiercely I love them. And I’ll watch the tree twinkle and I’ll listen to Arlow snore and I’ll thank God for every single moment where the fight for life doesn’t feel quite so hard.
And my hands, they’re cold.
And my head is frazzled with activity and worry and all the “I don’t know’s!” filling me up inside.
But my heart feels held. The God who made my heart, promises to hold it.
And He is.