Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

Everything is Hard.

And that’s ok.

I wondered this recently as a sat in my car, on my way to work, talking myself down from my latest entry into what I call a spiral, the end-over-end constant twirling of thoughts about everything that needs to get done, until I mentally hit the ground and feel like I can’t do any of it. Everything worth doing seems difficult.

This isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes I think that my mind believes it is. In certain aspects of my life, I accept the difficulty. Teaching is difficult, and I accept it completely. I will never be up to speed on everything, I will always have something new I need to do, something to grade, or some new policy coming out of the district or the state that I have to adhere to. So why, when marriage or parenting or personal dreams get difficult to reach, do I struggle? I have a thought as to why.

The ‘Have To’s’

Work is our job. Most of us have to work-no choice. We have to pay bills, we have to eat, we have to wear clothes, drive our cars, put gas in them. All of that takes money, which takes a job. So we have to have a job. Whatever that job throws at us, we take, because we need it. Do we need to take a new class? Got it. Should we read this book that will teach us how to handle classroom management better? I’ll buy it today. Do I need to write three different lesson plans to differentiate for the kids who don’t understand how to multiply using this method? I’ll do it. Most of us have no choice on the job, so we do whatever it takes to keep it, until it gets too awful to bear, then we move on to some other job that we have to give our all to. Most of the time, we don’t expect to ever stop working during that 9–5 time period. Some of us even remark in surprise when we end up having a slow day.

The ‘Want To’s’

Cut to home. Home is where all the stuff we had a choice over comes into play. Since we chose to get married or share life with another human (or not), have kids (or not), have pets (or not), have a side hustle (or not), this is the place we should get to relax. This is where all the fun happens, right? All this stuff should be easy. Except living life is actually difficult, even when you like it. Maintaining any relationship, including your spouse, takes work. -Raising your kids takes work. Making dinner, taking time to workout or engage in hobbies, call family, call friends…all of that demands our time. Sometimes it can seem like we are doing something wrong, like it should be easier, but in reality if we want to do anything well, we have to do it intentionally. If we reach a point where we aren’t sure what we are doing, we have to educate ourselves. That’s true of hobbies (I read so many articles on writing and blog posts about new books coming out), it’s true of parenting (‘Ok, Google, ‘is my kid being an asshole or does he have PANDAS’’), and its true of dinner (‘I have chicken thighs, peppers, pasta, and tomato sauce…chicken cacciatiore!*Googles recipe*), and it is certainly true with relationships (How do I fight fair?).

The Myth

What I am getting at is the idea of things eventually being easy enough to just chill out and sit on the couch is probably a myth. The idea that we’re all owed some kind of downtime during the evening is probably a myth, at least at this point in my life. Right now, I’m trying to get my writing in and my husband will not stop sending me messages. Part of me is annoyed that he isn’t leaving me to my time, but the other part of me knows that if we don’t figure out the grocery list now, we’ll be doing it with two kids running around us while we try to get ready to leave, and that is not good for anyone’s mental health. It never ends.

It’s ok that I am sometimes frustrated that life isn’t magically easy. That I don’t have kids that are old enough to entertain themselves and a marriage where we are so in sync that it doesn’t feel like I have to try, that I have managed my time so well that my house is clean and the dinner can be made quickly and I can do a few other things with that freed up space in time. There is nothing wrong with feeling occasionally frustrated that life isn’t like this. But getting caught up in the idea that it’s supposed to be is unhealthy. Just because I chose something to be in my life doesn’t mean it doesn’t take work to maintain. And that’s ok. I’m probably always going to be working towards something. And that’s not wrong-in fact, it’s often pretty fun.

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Ashley Jamele

I’m a math teacher, lover of books, and a writer. I live with my husband, two children, and four dogs in Vermont. I’m constantly attempting to find balance.