If Only…

I heard this monologue one time about a person who went through their life wishing for the next step.

When I can cross the street by myself, when I can drive, when I get to High School, then I’ll enjoy life. Once I get to College, that’s where the party is, once I get a career, once I get married… etcetera, etcetera, all the way to once I retire…

I think I have this same problem

If only my husband had a set ‘get home’ time, I could be a happier mom because I’d know when the calvary was coming to rescue me.

If only I weren’t so tired, I wouldn’t be so impatient.

If only my baby were old enough to entertain himself, I would have time to get things done

If only my daughter would just go to bed without me having to stand vigil for an hour, I wouldn’t be tempted to eat an entire pan of brownies after she is finally asleep.

If only my son had a better attitude, I wouldn’t lose my temper.

If only we sang more hymns on Sunday, I could focus on God better 😉 (Sorry, I just had to add that one)

If only I could find my Jane Eyre book and find out how it ends, I would have a more peaceful state of mind.

If only I had a job, I would feel more fulfilled.

If only I had more books… wait, more bookshelves… wait, more rooms to hold the bookshelves and more bookshelves and more books… and unlimited, uninterrupted hours to read until I became old and gray in a little house in a wood next to a lake with the only possible approach being via helicopter and some horses and perfectly behaved dogs and a few cats. Oh.. and a little white alligator. And a kangaroo. I would be happy.

Suddenly my well-being, physical, spiritual and emotional, revolves around something as petty as ownership of a marsupial and my baby turning 7 months old.

At which point I’ll be saying…

If only my baby would learn to stay out of things, I wouldn’t have to watch him all the time and I’d get more done. And then someday… If only I had another baby, I’d have someone to smile at me so I’d get more done….. you see the never-ending cycle, here.

For a week now I’ve been looking forward to a long awaited, much anticipated date with my husband. He’s the bomb. He’s all that and a bag of chips. He’s a much… much… much, much, much better bowler than I am.

I think I had myself convinced that if only I had time alone with my husband, I would be a more patient mom. There was a lot of rational thought that linked those two like, it would relieve stress, I’d have some adult time, I’d have a time apart from the kiddos so that they are all the more lovely when I return, etc… but the essential premise was

Cause: date with Matt

Effect: mommy with the patience of Job.

Now my husband is a pretty awesome guy, but even he has his limits and when put that way, even I can see how ridiculous my thought process was.

We did go out. We had an EXCELLENT time. We hope to do this again next month. I’m excited about that, yet…

…when I got home and my daughter began to fight me over staying quiet in bed, my patience was gone in seconds. (In her defense and to my grateful surprise, she has gone to bed very sweetly for several naps and nighttimes now with only one minor – for her – tiff over the ‘new’ arrangement)

Can you believe that four hours alone with Matt DID NOT make me a saint???? Some obscure and incredibly STUPID corner of my mind was so sure that I’d be different. It blew my mind!!! Which was when I realized the true nature of my unspoken, unnoticed till now "if only" ‘s and noticed that my blown mind had not been functioning on all four cylinders to begin with. 

"Blow away, mind, blow away!"

Obviously, I’m still glad that we had a date. We started the first Sherlock Holmes work; I watched him get six strikes in a row. (In my defense, I got the FIRST strike… right before I had 8 gutter balls and 72 ‘opens’ which apparently means, ‘nyah, nyah, you can’t hit more than 2 pins at a time with your ball’.) But I did my part for the Save the Bowling Pin Association that some cronies and I joined in college. Ah, those were the days… if only I were back in college.. wait, no. I’m not supposed to do that anymore.

The other problem with "if only’s" besides the simple absurdity of it all, is that suddenly everyone and everything else bears the blame for your behavior and attitudes.  As if a three year old has the power to grant or revoke my access to the fruit of the Spirit.  As if even the best of spouses (which mine is) can provide you with joy everlasting.  As if a 5 month old has ultimate power over your house cleaning efforts.

I’d love to say that now that I’ve identified some of them, I’m finished forever with the "If Only"s; but the truth is, I think I will be battling them for quite awhile.  There’s a rut in my brain now that runs automatically down some of these paths.  It will take some time to fill in the old ones and make new ruts down better thought pathways.  Fortunately, my kids practiced throwing asphalt chunks in rut-puddles just the other day until Lithany very literally got stuck in a rut – she had mud up to her calves.  Maybe they’ll help me out with filling in the old ones… if only they would do that…

Surely I’m not the only one who struggles with this. If I am, don’t tell me because…

If Only I could find someone else who deals with this…