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I’ve been wondering . . . is it wrong to be happy when there’s so much sadness in the world?

Is it wrong to be anxious about money when we still have a house and food on the table?

Can I complain about my newly working-from-home husband tapping his fingers on the table and not regulating his screen time very well while my friend, a single parent, wonders how she’ll mother her kids now and still keep her job? Is it even fair for me to talk about being annoyed?

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In the yard, I notice the sun on my daughter’s hair. I notice snow piles dripping into puddles like we’re in Narnia, emerging from a long winter. Upstairs in the house, two little tomato plants poke up from the buckets in the dining room where we planted them last week. My preschooler waters the two green leaves carefully. With no school or playdates, we have nothing to do but care for plants, something normally forgotten in the bustle of life. These little tomatoes might have a chance, I think. Maybe we’ll become really good gardeners this year. 

Six chicks hatch in the incubator upstairs. They peep and snuggle under a warm light in the garage. I wonder, how can anything be wrong in a world that has chicks in it?

Yet, it is so wrong.

When I think about my family’s future, I feel my breath catch in my chest, shallow and high. I notice my neck hurts after watching the news. I’m sleeping at the edge of my bed, half falling off, curled around the kids I can’t bring myself to carry back to their own beds. I want them close right now, and I can’t sleep anyway.

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In the morning, my small daughter bangs her fist on the living room window, waving to a raven in the yard. I grab her too roughly and pull her down. “STOP IT.” 

At night, I cry over a stupid fight with my husband. He tells me I’ve been complaining a lot. He says, “Everything annoys you.”

I tell him I’m allowed to be scared right now. He says, “Just stop. Let me worry about money.” 

I know I should receive his words as a gift, but I hear them as an insult instead. I hear him saying, You don’t deserve to be involved, when he really means, Please let me hold this for you.

I’m going crazy holding all of it, but I can’t set it down. Today we have food and a home and sun streaming in the windows. Who am I serving by feeding this fear? 

Let me hold this for you.

Emily P. Freeman shared a quote from Jeff Vanvonderen on her blog. He said, “God’s job is to fix and to change. Our job is to depend, serve, and equip. This is the work of grace and it is more restful than you can imagine.”

Mothers are used to holding everything for everyone. We carry the laundry on one hip and the toddler on another. We hold conversations with friends while holding babies to our breasts. We balance it all but sometimes it’s too much.

It’s irresponsible to think we should carry the weight of everything.

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I’m scared about the future, and I hold my kids in bed in the morning, sleeping in late because we have nowhere to go. I kiss the baby’s tangled hair and bury my face in her soft baby cheeks. It’s not wrong to be happy, maybe it’s actually my job. 

When I choose a novel over the news, I’m choosing my mental health. When I join a workout challenge with friends, it’s not trite, it’s choosing strength over stagnation.

With these strong arms, I hold my worries better.

When I water the sprouts of peace I find in the warm afternoon sun and second cups of coffee and early bedtimes and slow mornings, I grow this home into a safe place for my family. Home is where we’ll be for a while, so I pray to make it a good one. This job is a gift, not a burden.

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Genny Rietze

Genny Rietze lives on the beach in Alaska with her husband, two busy kids, and twenty chickens.  You can find her on Instagram @gennyrietze 

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