The Terribly Bad, No Good, Rotten Day


It’s always been exciting for me, the first day back to school. New clothes, backpacks, supplies. And the send off.

Seeing the big yellow bus appear to whisk them away, that’s always been my favorite part.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. We have fun and enjoy the carefree days of summer just like the rest of you. But at the end of two months, two very long months, I’m ready to be in bed before 1am, have a reason to be up and alert by 6am, have groceries that last more than a day and to have some peace. A few moments of peace.

Who am I kidding?! I want a few hours of peace!

Truly, I’m excited as they disappear down the street, excited for them. To reconnect with friends and meet new teachers and start fresh.

Today was that day. I jumped up when the alarm sounded at 5:45am, turned on their lights, gently shook them and yelled, “It’s time to get up!” After bacon and pancakes and last minute rushing around to find what should’ve been ready last night – like I’ve said a million times before, but some things never change – we gathered on the driveway outside for the obligatory “first day of school” photos.

And then, there’s that moment when your son asks you to take a photo of just him, without his brother, with his phone.

And in a split second, you glance at the phone and instead of the camera being ready for a shot, it has gone back to the photo album and you see what you cannot un-see.

That moment when you see on your son’s phone what makes you ill and should not be in the photo album of this, this child, this not so much a child in some ways but so naive and clean and innocent and pure in other ways.

A gasp from me. A look of bewilderment for him. “What?!” he asks. “This.” I hand him the phone.

That back to school moment ended like a guillotine dropping. Whack! And I wanted to cut someone’s head off, lob it clear to kingdom come. I don’t know what I really wanted. His brother asked what was wrong. I blurted it out. And turned to go inside, shut the door and tried to breathe.


Tears and words and sickness. I tried to keep going,  going ahead with eating, doing laundry, cleaning up. And in between saying “Why God? Help me.” All came crashing in around me as I curled up in a blanket on the couch. Sleep. It’s a good escape, right?

Have I just wasted my whole life and failed? What good has any of it done? Does anyone listen, or remember, or even care?

I sometimes feel so discarded and of no value. What is the sum of my life? I’ve poured my heart into 5 children and none of them, not one, seems to be a reflection of that effort. I understand that each of them will be who they are, have their own story, follow their own path, and so forth. Yet, I wonder, what is the point of all the toil, the pain, the sleepless nights, the striving and running around and stressing. And praying.

Praying. Able to move mountains but not shape one    single   decision?

I would move mountains for them if I could, but apparently I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t strive enough, hurt enough, smile enough. Love enough? Live righteously enough? Pray enough?

Someone said, “Their life isn’t over yet.” Well, no it isn’t. But what point is there if all the lessons are ignored, the wisdom tossed aside and they settle for cheap versions of “love”, unneccessary hardships, strained relationships, endless searching for pleasures that fall short of filling the void?

What point is there, if they go through their whole life and come to the very same conclusion – asking, “Have I just wasted my whole life?”

Ann Voskamp put a damper on my pity-party. Here’s what she said. I pray it encourages you too!

Dear You… a letter for all of the hard weeks






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