In my mind, my life is an epic tale woven intricately by God into a beautiful tapestry. It is brilliant, vibrant colors and a design that reflects the beauty of a life well lived. The tapestry takes years to design and decades to weave with the finest of thread and knowing, careful hands. I will never see it fully completed on this side of heaven, but I know it is lovely.
It’s a Tuesday. I dread Tuesdays. Tuesdays are the day I have my children, all four of them, completely on my own. In the midst of a pandemic, my husband and I have meticulously lined out a schedule that gives us the opportunity to work both of our jobs from home. We have a sitter a few days a week, but the other days are a delicate dance of meetings, quiet work time and entertaining our kids. Tuesdays are my day as a solo parent.
I’m a runner, but I don’t like to race. I don’t like to race mainly because I always start off way too fast, and I burn out quickly. It’s a consistent problem, one I’ve yet to get control of in my piddly racing career. It’s also a habit I have in life. Tuesdays I always start fast and burn out quickly.
I begin the day with a plan. Plans are vital in the age of a pandemic. We will clean up after breakfast, go to the library, play outside in the baby pool, and hopefully that will get us to lunch time. We check all of them off the list and it’s 10:05 a.m. I’m ready for a nap. My kids are fighting. I’m trying to keep them quiet so my husband can feel like an actual adult on his conference call. I snap in frustration and exhaustion. They all end up in their rooms. I’m laying on my bed.
It turns out that some of the most beautiful things are made out of the most ordinary objects, the most unassuming colors. My children have each studied van Gogh in the PreK class at school. His art strikes me because of how he can use browns, yellows and oranges to make pieces of art that stun my mind time and time again. I picture my tapestry much the same. There are so many days of work that involve a bland tan thread. Under and over, under and over it goes throughout the piece of work. What is is making? How will it come together to look like anything? Why this color?
The cursor on my computer blinks. It’s naptime. I surrendered to the television for the older kids while the baby sleeps. I should write, but I want to nap. I wish there was a way to magically put the words on a page. I close my eyes, open them again, but the cursor still blinks against an illuminated white page. My brain is tired. I have a list of “shoulds” that clutter my thoughts. None of them include writing. I lay down on my bed and close my eyes. I never fall asleep, just go over the list of shoulds, over and over, like it is the lines of a Broadway play. By the time I’ve etched them into my mind for further self-depreciation, the baby wakes up.
The thing about weaving is that you can’t decide you need to pull out a single thread. The entire piece of work will unravel. Even though in my mind the tapestry is brilliant hues of pink, blue and crimson, I can’t pull out all the browns, tans and greys. If I try to yank out the ordinary colors, the entire piece will fall into a heap of thread, balled up in an unsolvable knot.
I go to bed that Tuesday with the same thought I’ve had in my mind most nights over the past year, “did I accomplish anything today?” I mull over the dullness life had become, a mere survival of “getting through the day.” I genuinely thought that I would feel more passion for the thing I love doing so much, yet here I find myself again in bed with not a single word on a page. The words swirl around in my head for what feels like hours, and despite my exhaustion sleep eludes me. I get up, sit outside on the porch and begin writing. Without even noticing, the tan gives way to ivory and eventually to lavender and royal purple. The weaving continues, and after taking a step back, the beauty begins to come into focus.