There's No Sparkly Bow

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Here it is 7:21pm my time (I'm in chilly Wisconsin) and just a few hours ago I realized I missed the deadline for my WOW! article. The article should have posted at midnight last night and you should have been reading it with your morning coffee instead of your evening cocktail (you're having a cocktail, right? Tell me I'm not the only one?). When I realized my error, I went through all those emotions you feel when you think you've let someone down. That's such an awful feeling, isn't it?

As I was processing my mistake, I was also writing a check to the hooftrimmer, cleaning up a mess from our potty training toddler, changing a diaper for our 1 year old, reminding my older children to get their homework done and have dinner because it's baseball night, etc...and then I picked up my phone. Across the front of the screen was a message from a local mom who I've gotten to know through a local parenting group. Her baby was born 16 weeks early and today she took her last (assisted) breaths as she lay in her father's arms.

I stopped in my tracks.

The frustration I had been feeling drained right out of me - picture an ice sculpture long after the party has ended. My frustration was nothing more than a puddle on the floor. Spent, meaningless, and without purpose.

I take on too much. You take on too much. Instead of saying "NO", we try to fit one more thing into our schedules. We try to please one more person, meet one more deadline, and what's the big deal, right? It really isn't a big deal, UNTIL we start beating ourselves up. When our lives don't fold up neatly and fit in the box with the bow, we sometimes feel we have failed. I'm not sure who told us that life was a pretty little box with a sparkly bow...but it's not. I'm here to tell you today, that life is messy. Some days it's a "did I even brush my teeth today?" kind of messy.




It really isn't that big of a deal. There is no special prize at the end of life for the person who has the most tidy underwear drawer, the cleanest vehicle, or the person who hasn't missed a single deadline. The messy times of life, the times we struggle, and the times we break down - those are the times that teach us grace and humility. We learn how to beg for forgiveness and learn how to prioritize. We may even (over time) learn how to say no and take on less...maybe.

I took a deep breath after hearing the sad news about baby Valerie. Then I looked at the clock and raced off to baseball practice. We were 3 minutes late which is in improvement over Monday night. A friend ran up to me and we hugged. She said she is tired and life has been hard. She told me social media has her down. She feels like she's the only mom struggling with temper tantrums, meltdowns, and the ups and downs that is life with children. She said "why can't people be more real?".

I'm here to tell you (and my friend) that there is no sparkly bow and no neat little packages. Life is messy and sometimes curse words double as a coma. Life is moldy apples under the drivers seat of the minivan, boogers wiped on the wall, unshaven legs, a mom bun, and yoga pants. Life is saying goodbye too soon, hello too late, but most of all it's about grace and humility. Saying I'm sorry and meaning it, offering comfort, providing support, and just showing up.

Stop looking for those sparkly bows and just accept who you are and where you are. Know that you are loved and there's lots of us out there in the same boat you are.


Crystal is a church musician, babywearing mama (aka crunchy mama), business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, Publicist with Dream of Things Publishing, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin with her husband, four young children (Carmen 9, Andre 7, Breccan 2, and Delphine 1), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 230 Holsteins.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other stuff at: and here:


madeline40 said...

Thanks so much Crystal for this inspiring piece. Since my son died and throughout the other losses I've experienced afterward, I've learned to prioritize and not get upset about the little things. (You know, being three minutes late is no big deal!) That's the only I can manage to live my messy life.
I'm so sorry about your friend's baby Valerie. She is my heart.

You are too, Madeline

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