Dear Friend: A letter

Dear Friend,

When I start believing my own hype–like how I manage to hold it (mostly) together in a foreign country with a traveling husband and two kids and an almost teenager, and how I fit writing and running in between the mothering–when I start to believe I might actually have this thing figured out, well, I only need to recall this past week to remember I do not.

It began with a trip to the south of France, which I admit sounds ten shades of wonderful, even when you account for the 6.5 hour drive with three little people in the back of a European sized car. Wonderful, until your husband realizes 1.5 hours into the drive that you, She Who Has It All Together, forgot the key to the car roof box sitting on the chest at home. He realizes this at the gaping mouth of the Gotthard Tunnel entrance, the tunnel that you waited and waited in traffic to reach. So, dear Friend, we drive the 1.5 hours home and we get the key and we start the journey all over again, all the while knowing the traffic to the tunnel has grown to nightmarish proportions in the middle of my jack-assery. 

I cried. In front of the kids and everything. I’m not ashamed to admit it, because I was caught between the worst of my weaknesses, forgetfulness and the belief that I am pretty much always right. A drive which should have taken 6.5 hours took somewhere around 11. And while everyone, especially my husband, showed a tremendous amount of grace, I felt as if I deserved an F for Failure.

Three days into our stay, just when I think we might be able to put The Incident behind us, I contracted a virus the likes of which I have never seen before. I self-diagnosed, as I tend to do, and decided it was tuberculosis and/or Satan’s spawn overtaking my body. It was horrideous, and meant She Who Has It All Together spent the remainder of the vacation writhing in pain in a stranger’s bed while her poor, put-upon husband managed the children and the food and the crazy, crying person he married sixteen years ago. God bless him.

Cue the end scene and you now have a woman in no shape to help drive home, a husband who single-handedly packed the clown car, and a naively optimistic belief that we couldn’t possibly hit worse traffic on our way home. And yet we did. While I coughed out the open window for ten hours straight, we hit every possible traffic point in France, Italy and Switzerland. It was hell. And while I possess a slight tendency to exaggerate, I assure you, I am not. We literally turned off our engine, got out of the car, took photos, and read Harry Potter while sitting in traffic. By “we”, I mean the passengers in the car who didn’t believe they might be dying a slow and painful death by traffic and tuberculosis. 

Someday, we will remember our week in France with fondness. Not that I remember much about the week, other than the fact I forgot my brother-in-law’s birthday. Add it to the rapidly growing list of failures I continue to accumulate. Can I share a secret with you? Lean in close because I want you to hear me clearly. 
I do not have it all together. 
Neither do you, dear Friend. We might be able to fool each other every now and again, especially on a good hair day, or when the sun shines just right, or we forget about what lurks in the shadows. But the truth is, we don’t have it all together and we need to trust each other to hear this truth. We need to lean on one another and allow the brilliance of another diamond in the rough be our strength when ours lay whimpering beneath a blanket on the sofa. We must believe we are loved not in spite of our shortcomings, but because of them. We forget and we act ridiculous. We catch viruses and we never make the call. We grow impatient and we cry a little. Then we remember–we are broken, but we are beautiful.

And we are loved. 

Sending much love and grace to each of you wonderfully flawed Friends,