As the stereo blares, I jump around to dance beats with my three year old, contorting my body into dance moves that only Seinfeld’s Elaine would be proud of. We groove to the music for a few minutes, and finally find ourselves at the end of the song, in a heap on the floor, breathless.
“Again, Mummy! Again!”
I hit replay, and the music, jumping, and dancing begin once more.
I feel joy.
I feel life.
I feel alive.
I grew up in an extended musical family, so you can appreciate that music was a huge part of my childhood. When words couldn’t be articulated, we sang. I can look back over most of my life, as I’m sure most of us can, and define seasons of it by music genres and song lyrics.
It’s only fitting that 2012 was a year of lyrics. It was a year marked by significant events: a miscarriage, my mother’s cancer diagnosis, my graduate’s multiple professional rejections, and my own painful, personal growth. I refer to it as my ‘gray’ year – occasionally filled with intermittent sunshine, but, on the whole, very dark and gray. Throughout it, as I struggled to catch my breath between sadness and sorrow, I relied heavily on artists like Mumford & Sons, Coldplay, Radiohead, and The David Crowder Band to articulate what I couldn’t. There were a lot of songs I held on to during that time, but one in particular stuck with me: Coldplay’s Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall. It’s an upbeat song; one that when played at full volume makes you get up and dance. That song brought me a lot of joy and hope during immense sorrow. And there was one lyric in the song that I kept coming back to over and over and over: I’d rather be a comma than a full stop.
I spent a lot of time thinking about that phrase. What does it mean to live life as a comma, rather than a full stop? How does one do that? How do I do that? How do I get through the difficulties in front me without forgetting that I am actually still living a life? And, how does it apply to my current season of life as the wife of a graduate student?
After thinking about it for some time, I finally concluded that, for me, it meant being willing to allow personal growth to continue through painful life challenges; being willing to see flashes of light in dark places; being willing to believe in hope when it feels like there is nothing but despair. If I’m willing to walk bravely through those dark places, it will make me a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.
That is much easier said than done. I would never choose pain over joy. I would never choose sorrow over laughter. I’m a joyful, positive person, and I’d like to be that way 100% of the time. However, you and I both know that isn’t realistic. Often, being able to walk through those times allows us to see the good or the new on the other side.
I think graduate wives are some of the strongest women I know. There are many of you who read this blog whom I’ve never met, but I know this much: we shoulder an immense amount of responsibility, wearing multiple hats on a daily basis, somehow managing to keep everything afloat at our own personal expense.
During all these difficult life challenges, we are tempted to stop. I know the majority of the time I want to quit. I’d much rather be curled up under a duvet avoiding my life than often having to deal with what’s in front of me. But if I’ve learned anything from 2012, I’ve learned this: when you are willing to put a comma in your life, instead of a full stop, it means you are still growing. There’s another part of the story coming. There’s another sentence, another paragraph, another moment of hope just around the corner.
Has there been a particular song, poem or phrase that has inspired you through your graduate journey? Would you be willing to share it in the comments below?