Thursday, April 18, 2024

Embrace the Inconveniences

I was in a "try not to drown" mode all winter! After a fall and winter that had been filled to the brim with constant illnesses and a major health crisis for my oldest daughter that was finally starting to resolve, to say I was tired and burned out was a complete understatement. 

In February, my parents had invited us on a family vacation that I had spent the last year planning out all the details for. And there were lots of details! It was a Disney vacation that included the majority of my family. We even had a bonus "just like family" member. (It was my daughter-in-law's sister who is also one of my daughter Ellie's closest friends.) In all, we travelled with 18 people, including my autistic young adult son, three 2-year-old grandsons, my 8-month-old granddaughter and 5-month-old grandson. 

While I was hoping and praying that this trip would allow for at least some snippets of rest and recharge, I knew that overall, it was going to be very busy. Trying to create a schedule which met the needs of babies, toddlers, teens, young adults, young families, and my senior citizen parents (who will not like being labeled as such(!) and who thankfully are very mobile, active and act much younger than their actual age) took lots of creativity, thought, and many adjustments!

I boarded the plane feeling anxious and emotionally depleted but resolved to focus on staying in the present moment, so I didn't miss out on the joys ahead of us. I was also focused on being flexible for any "hiccups" that travelling with a large group of people would most likely bring. 

I pulled out my rosary beads as the plane pulled away from the gate. (Flying is not my favorite!) As I started praying, I felt God say in my heart, "Embrace the inconveniences". And my first thought was, "!" I didn't have long to ponder, though, because moments later our plane stopped as we approached the runway, the engine shut off, and the pilot informed us that we were being delayed at least 30 minutes because of too much air traffic on the East Coast.

After 30 minutes of helping to distract one of the 2-year-olds and listening to another family's toddler completely lose it the entire time ... I felt so bad for that poor mom! ... the engines started and 10 minutes later it was our turn on the runway. The flight went great, I had handled the delay with patience, and I was tentatively hopeful that maybe we had got the "inconvenience" out of the way! 

I have to admit that the warning and direction God gave me came in handy. We landed in Florida to rain and chilly weather, but I was able to embrace that inconvenience and just be grateful to be on vacation. The next day brought more and heavier rain, but we made the best of it. Each time an inconvenience popped up, I tried to embrace it. At the same time, I felt like I was bargaining with God, "That's enough inconveniences now, right?" And, yet we faced some pretty sizable challenges that kept me from just slipping into the carefree vacation mindset I so desperately felt I needed.  

Over the course of the next week, one son's family came down with pinkeye, my 5-month-old grandson came down with croup in the middle of the night and needed an early morning ER visit, my dad got sick and missed out on 3 park days, one of the 2-year-olds needed an urgent care visit for an ear infection, my special needs son developed an awful stye, and my dad went into AFIB for part of a day. Even though it t didn't rain again, the temperature was too cool to enjoy the pool except on one afternoon. That was really disappointing since it's always one of my favorite parts of a trip to Florida in February. 

I was trying so hard to "embrace the inconveniences", offer things up, and stay positive despite all the challenges. I did well until the second to last day of our trip when there was just one too many frustrations and my overwhelm spilled over and I snapped at two of my adult kids, then cried because I lost my patience. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to not beat myself up over one bad moment. 

I cried in the bathroom the morning we flew out on what would have been a perfect pool day. While there were certainly many joyful moments during the trip, overall, it had been disappointing and not what I had hoped. It's also hard when you spend so long planning and looking forward to something and it isn't what you hoped it would be. (And my expectations were honestly pretty low to start with because of the amount of littles in our group!) Maybe you can relate? Life often throws unfortunate details into our well formed plans.

There was something my heart felt it desperately needed that it just didn't get. It wasn't about the weather or the illnesses. It was the exhaustion and lack of peace in my heart. I needed rest...a deep soul rest that probably wasn't possible to get on that vacation even if it had gone perfectly.

Sometimes the good that God brings out of hard situations is a deeper understanding of our own hearts. It can become apparent that we have to address the needs that we've been putting off for too long that quick fixes or emotional "bandaids" aren't going to manage anymore. I realized that I had to address my deep need for rest because it was affecting my daily life. Shortly after the vacation, God opened the door for a silent women's retreat that He gave me the courage to walk through. Silence with Him away from the many, many responsibilities of home life was the CPR my soul needed.

If you find yourself in a place of burnout and emotional need, take that seriously. Ask God to show you how He wants to address how you're feeling. Open up to your husband and/or a good friend. Consider speaking to a Catholic therapist or spiritual director. It's important to care for our hearts in order to better care for our families. We can't give what we don't have. 

It's so hard to get three busy boys to look at the camera and say "cheese"!
Thankfully, Xavier was all in!

It's a little easier with two!

My parents with sweet baby Claire

Every trip someone needs a pic with a Viking helmet!
Luke was happy to oblige! 

Sweet baby Charlie!

Claire adores her Pupa.
(The feeling is mutual!)

Happy Charlie


My favorite Disney princess!