This Messy Thing Called Life

Father's Day Banner

As the door closes for the last time this morning I am left with the fray of the weekend strewn across my house. I can scan the length of our home while standing in our kitchen. The remnants of our weekend activities leaving a story or a roadmap of our lives.

I wonder what a stranger would see if they walked through the door? What tales our scattered items would tell?

Balled up wrapping paper from Father’s Day left on the side table. Crayons, scissors and tape tossed about from the banner my children made for their dad to celebrate him. Bits of popcorn having rolled off of fingers and onto the couch and floor during our family movie night. Books on every surface area. Medication bottles on the corner of the dining room table. More on the kitchen counter. The dishwasher that was filled but never turned on. Various pieces of triathlon gear in absolutely every room of the house.

The Rainbow Loom box has been left open with the tiny elastics littered across the table and onto the floor like colorful confetti. A glass here. And there. A stray sock tossed into the corner. Another in between the couch cushions. Sometimes I have found underwear stuck in there as well. Which is odd. Except when you are a swim team family and bathing suits are wrangled onto bodies in a nanosecond. Hurried children, avoiding a trip to the laundry basket, tuck clothes into random places. Don’t ask. These things happen when you live with three children.

Speaking of my nemesis — The Laundry — the dirty basket is overflowing with clothes pouring over the rim and spilling onto the floor. A mixture of tangled soccer socks, soggy bike clothes from riding in the rain and sweaty running clothes claiming the entire space around the washer and dryer. Making the regular clothes dank and stinky. Laundry piled so high I cannot even open the washer door. We are an active family. We generate a lot of laundry. I often wonder if most families get caught up on laundry over the weekend. We get behind. Always. 

My family too is scattered about. Tired children wrenched from warm beds for their last full day of school. Three half days to follow. How will I get everything done when they get home before lunch? I honestly do not know. And yet I miss them all terribly when they leave Monday mornings and I am left home to sort through the chaos. Like photographs — reminding me of the time we shared together.

I am left with my to-do list. A list that gets away from me every day. The bills I neglected to pay because I had children home sick for a week last week. Camp health forms due by Friday — needing to be dropped at the doctor’s office to be filled out. I’ve only known about them since February. Why have I waited until now to get them done? June — the busiest month of the year?

My training volume keeps going up and up; its gradual slow build reaching its peak these last few weeks before Ironman. I logged over 20 hours last week. I try desperately to figure out how to wring every second out of each minute. Like I do with the washcloths my children have left at the bottom of the drained tub. The water gone but the cloth still soggy and full. Squeezing and twisting until I cannot milk another drop out of it but its fabric still wet to the touch. Knowing it will smell if I don’t hang it up or wash it. There is more water in that cloth but I can’t make it dry with all of my wringing. I cannot get it all out. I try. I do.

I need each second of the day.

My husband’s business travel increases as he continues to work through his health issues. His training continues as well although he has decided to do Ironman Lake Placid as a training day instead of racing the entire course. Stopping after the bike. Leaving his sneakers behind in our rented condo so he’s not tempted to put them on and run the entire race. He could. He could run and finish the race. There is no question of that. But he couldn’t do it the way he wants to, the way he should be able to. His medications are impacting his training and for the first time in his life, he cannot will his body to do what he wants it to do.

So we reassess. We reconsider. We adapt and we change. He’ll continue to train and do an Ironman later in the year. That is our hope.

I cannot even get my head around everything. Or my heart. I have that feeling of wanting to curl up into a ball. To throw in the towel along with the musty washcloth, close the laundry room door and call it a day. Turn away from it all. Press the restart button like the button I press on my washing machine. Cry as the water turns soapy.

“It is just a lot,” my husband and I say to each other between heavy sighs. Leaning against each other, holding each other, as the tears slip from our eyes. Looking at each other with our eyes locked and strained. We don’t know what to say. Or even what to do about it all. There are times when I am tired to the core but sleep eludes me because worry trumps all fatigue.

If I’m deeply honest I have to admit that I am frightened to race without my husband. I would be frightened to go through life without him. The symbolism of our racing together has depth which I do not have words for. My heart is weighted and I feel sad and scared.

Eighteen years of health issues. I’m weary and right now the worry is all consuming. To look at him, the outside world doesn’t know his body’s struggle. He wears it well. He is sharp and bright. He is strong and handsome. He is loving. He is playful and he always sees life in a positive, joyful way. Honestly, I don’t know how he does it.

My husband and I talk about our life all of the time. The choices we make. The way our family lives and navigates our way in the world. We wonder if our lives would be simpler without our training. Perhaps. But we are not simple people. We are complicated and messy. We are passionate and we are fiery. We are all in. We roll up our sleeves, dig in the dirt and get down to the root of life and loving.

This morning I will finish writing. I’ll go upstairs and open all of the blinds. Crank open the windows big and wide and let the cool morning air blow through the house. Hopefully wiping out the last of my children’s sickness. I’ll sort through the laundry and manage to wrench the washer door open after kicking some of the pile aside. I’ll come back downstairs and start the dish washer. I’ll get the camp forms ready to be dropped off. I’ll do my best to tidy-up.

I’ll probably overlook the rainbow loom elastics. If they’re that important someone will pick them up. And if not, they’ll get vacuumed eventually. The glasses will stay where they have been deposited. I may snag the undies and throw them onto the mountain of laundry. Or not.

Maybe I’ll just shove them deeper down in between the cushions and let someone else find them some day. I imagine we’ll get a good laugh when they are discovered and that I will be given a moment to reflect back upon this day and how our lives have changed since stashing them there.

I’ll look at my list and pick and choose. I’ll cross off and add more to it.

I’ll put on my bathing suit. Get my bike ready for my ride. I’d like to say that I’ll join my husband in the pool, but I’ll be getting in as he’s getting out. I’ll squeeze every single ounce I have out of myself. I am 34 days out from Ironman. I may finish that run on my own but I’m not alone. Ever.

Life needs to be lived today. Messes get picked up and made over and over and over again. Always.

Life is messy. There’s no denying that. I think it is supposed to be messy. I do. 

I’m just going to keep showing up and try to be brave. Holding my husband’s hand on our messy-life-journey together.

Take care! Be brave. Much love.

11 replies »

  1. Life is indeed messy! Your most reminds me of a quote by Pema Chodron (I too love her work)
    “Rather than being disheartened by the uncertainty of life, what if we accepted it and relaxed into it? What if we said, Yes this is the way it is; this is what it means to be human, and decided to sit down and enjoy the ride”

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I have three of her books… and for sure, ‘life is messy.’ I keep meaning to get them out because I’m sure I could get more out of them the second time around.
    Loved reading your Monday. Sorry to hear that your husband battles disease.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I chuckled with understanding when I read that despite all the craziness, you miss your kids when they leave Monday morning. I often feel that way after they’ve gone to bed even though I desperately need the break. We’ve been on summer break for a month already and the kids are driving me crazy! But I don’t want the summer to end.

    “But we are not simple people. We are complicated and messy.” Yup. That says it all. I do my best reflection when things are messy. I jump into action best when things are messy. I’m most grateful when things are messy. Your gratitude and love show all through this piece. xxoo ❤


  4. Thank you, Karen! I feel very seen and understood and that you are a kindred spirit! I have to tell you, I was counting down the hours for bedtime last night, which took forever because we were wading through the mess and cleaning up together.

    I got teary when I read your last few lines. You inspired me and reminded me — a lot of good comes out of messy. Nice to know I’m in good company!



  5. Every inch of your writing is filled with enormous depth of understanding and meaning. Whether mundane or mystical––you shed light on such universal concepts that relating to it happens instantly.
    “I cannot even get my head around everything. Or my heart…”
    Seems like that admission allows you to grasp what IS going on with great vibrancy. Messiness, fears, hopes, love and all.
    Carry on Jessica! So sorry your husband cannot reach his goals nexxt to you this time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Julia! I’m always touched by your words and appreciate that you can relate. That’s my hope — to connect our human experiences. 😉

      I’m late responding because we were heading up to our Ironman training camp. What a full weekend! I’m feeling relieved, tired and accomplished.

      My husband had a strong weekend as well, which feels good. I will miss finishing with him for sure, thank you for your empathy and compassion. It helps!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. No such thing as “late”. 😊 Everything has its own time and is right.
    Grateful for your husband’s strong weekend.
    The feelings of support and connection are truly mutual! I’m energized by your amazing will to persevere.
    Carry on!! Have a great week.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love your writing. I am happy to keep up with you and the family. I am sorry to hear about the ‘new” stresses and send your wonderful, smart and handsome husband special love. You have and always will be one of the most special couples I know. Jess please keep writing. It helps this old lady to stay positive as well as being a help to others. Big hugs and kisses. Email me if you want. I would love to hear from you. M


    • Hi Mimi! Thank you so much! I cannot tell you how much it means to me to read your note. I appreciate your love for me and our family and your support and encouragement about my writing. I’m glad you find it helpful … I never know 😉 I miss seeing you! Hoping you are well and feeling good! Much love!


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