I even have a superstition that has grown on me
as the result of invisible hands
coming all the time..
Namely, that if you follow your bliss
you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while,
waiting for you.
And the life that you ought to be living,
is the one you ARE living.
-joseph campbell

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When Enough is Not Enough

Of course the days are busy enough. They usually fly by. And my body gives out well before my spirit. Usually my ears are the first to go. Sometime in the afternoon, I start to think my children are no longer speaking any form of English because the endless chattering is a dialect I can no longer understand. I have to turn all my concentration toward the voice and tune out everything else just to be able to discern a simple request for a glass of water.

It's true my ears grow weary by the end of the day. As does the rest of me, the body longs for just one long time out on the sofa with no need to get up and save a life or practice fire prevention or do my part to assist in post disaster clean up. But then I find a way to press on, carry children covered in paint to the tub, and then convince them that shampoo definitely needs to be rinsed out of their hair with clean water. And finally, as the water turns cold and the child shivers, I must convince her to come out, come with me, into the waiting warm towel and further, into the pajamas that really have to be more comfortable than fannies flying bare through the house.

My body aches by now. I started before daylight urging, convincing, compromising, instructing, carrying, changing, moving and directing little people who ran the gamut of cooperation. And as I carry the seven bath towels that were needed to mop up the floor after what passes for a relaxing tub time, I mentally tally and check off the day, what has been accomplished and what remains. I know I will need to ration my remaining energy and imagination so that when the sweet almond eyes, and rosebud mouths, finally close for the night, I can be sure that, if nothing else, they felt loved and I can hope that their dreams are sweet and not at all scary.

But is it enough? The people who tell me they could never do what we've done would say it is enough. Any parenting expert would probably say I've done enough. Judging the day on the facts that we are all safe and our stomachs are full and we probably learned something and we laughed more than a few times, most would deem the day a success. Most would say I did enough.

But what is enough? And why, even after a day spent doing nothing more than meeting needs, kissing boo boos, lifting bodies for hugs,,and making sure little hearts were never hurt for long, do I feel I could have done more?

I don't know what the "more" is, but I can sense it following me like a colorful dusty cloud. Always just beyond my reach, but within my subconscious, I cannot be satisfied no matter how busy my day has been.

As long as I know there are children living without clean water, without enough to eat, and without someone to rock them to sleep and chase their bad dreams away, I cannot be satisfied with my comfy little busyness. I believe that I am also responsible for the suffering that I cannot touch. It is not enough to wrap my children in new socks and blankets fresh from the dryer. In my mind's eye, I see the children who still shiver, whose eyes fill with tears that fall silently because there is no one there to hear them cry.

Because I know, I am not satisfied with my accomplishments of the day. As long as children suffer in conditions I probably could not survive, I can never, not for one moment, believe I am doing enough.

I cannot be satisfied because I am convinced I am not doing all that I need to be doing. When I feel tired, I know it is nothing compared to the exhaustion of a child fighting to survive. When I feel bored from doing the same chores everyday, I know it is nothing compared to the child who lives within the walls of an orphanage. And when my legs ache, I am reminded of the child who is living with a painful birth defect without access to pain medication.

The work I spend my days doing is worth nothing if I cannot also find a way to affect the lives of other children who spend their days waiting.....for relief, for a meal, for a family.

I have been blessed beyond measure. My life has been rich in color and love. I have been prepared for many things that have come to pass. And now I can't stop wondering what is next. What am I being prepared for now? What is out there for me to do?

Something on the horizon......something in the back of my mind......something from a dream I remember........something is trying to get my attention. The dissatisfaction and the knowledge that this is not enough is pushing me forward.....inward....upward.

And though I have no idea what I can do, how I can make a difference, how I can be instrumental in reaching out and offering comfort to where it is needed. And even though I have not idea what is being asked of me, the amazing thing is that for now, acceptance is ENOUGH. As I am ready, as I am willing, more will be revealed. It is written. It is enough.


  1. Amazing.. You are so talented... Do I hear the yearning in your heart to adopt another child? Kinda sounds as if.... I'm so glad that you started this blog. You will touch so many with your words.

  2. I think Tina may be on the something. There are so many choice and ways to do more and I know that you will find the best way for you and your family. I have so much faith in you and love your giving heart so much. I look forward as well to following this new glimpse into your lives.

  3. I have been missing your longer writings and so this is such a gift to all of your faithful readers! And Joe is right, I am learning it all the time but it is good to be reminded when the path seems to be soooo littered with brambles.

    love you,

  4. i love this too, sherri...some of us are destined to be moms for always and always...i also ask myself many "what-if's"...i would love to have a sibling close in age for cecelia, but this will not be as we will soon age out of the "eligible" age for adoption from china(and God knows we have already aged out of every other adoption program!)...so, the next step for us to to be as supportive and active as we can in our grandchildren's lives as we are, of course, in cecelia's and our adult children's...when i first stopped teaching after 28 years, i felt i had lost my identity, but failed to realize it was because there was a new twist in the road for us, already being planned, without our knowledge...for me, another new purpose, is to open the eyes of the "world" to all of the orphans out there who need families...in this way, we can save many more than those incredible little beings we are charged with each day...i too ache each night, but it is a delicious, wonderful ache!! these body aches serve as a reminder of the perfect totalness in our lives...


  5. Sherri, I am really enjoying reading your new blog!

  6. Sherri, you brought tears to my eyes. I too have that unending feeling of not enough. I know I can't adopt every child in the world but my heart won't leave them either. My need to hold, to make little ones feel loved and safe, it's overwhelming, so powerful and it makes me ache to not share this with more than my children at home...

  7. Hey Sherri,

    As you know, I very rarely get on Facebook or blogs these days, but it doesn't mean I ever stop thinking about you and your incredible family. I know what you mean when you say it is not enough, but you are making a difference in the lives of so many without even knowing it. I for one look forward to reading your emails, posts, blogs, etc. You ahve a wonderful style of writing and if you ever set your mind to writing a book, I would be the first in line.

    Whatever happens, I believe you will never think you ahve done enough, just like me we will never give up trying to make change in the world. Keep doing what you can and when you can. The people who's lives you touch are all the brighter because you are in them. Having now met your beautiful, intelligent and downright amazing oldest daughter, I can safely say whatever you are doing, it is perfect and you should be very proud. I truly wish we could sit in an old rocking chair on the porch in the rain, drinking hot tea adn chat about everything and nothing. I know it would be so much fun.... One day, my friend, one day...

  8. Thanks....I'll be on that porch waiting....whenever you can make it. I'll have the tea hot. :)