Not that I’m a 300-pound drunk biker guy covered with tattoos ode to my mother, but my favorite thing to yell at any live show is “FREEBIRD!!” I know, I’m like the cliché bar-scene from every movie you’ve ever seen.

But seriously, no matter the cliché, I love this song. It makes me feel…free. Like stop-shaving-wave-a-lighter-in-the-air free.

Lynyrd_Skynyrd_-_Free_BirdFreedom is something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. I wish I could say it’s because of the refugees pouring into Europe right now, fleeing the brutal tyranny in their home countries. Or because I’ve been so deeply inspired by the Pope’s visit to America. Or even just because I’m the type of swanky intelligentsia who sits around thinking about existential ideas all day long. As urgent as all these issues are, if I’m really being honest, the idea of freedom has been burning in my heart because I am a wife (to the most loving husband) and a mother (to the two most beautiful babies) who just wants some freaking space.

Please don’t burn me at the stake just yet.

Before I met my husband, I had never been in a long term relationship. I pretty much just did what I wanted when I wanted, only really ever catering to the needs of my lazy puggle, Hercules. Afterwards, I was only a wife for about a week before I unintentionally “came down with the pregnancy.” So I can’t say I had much time to practice the art of sacrifice before being thrown into the ring with another boy (this one much shorter and balder and needier). Pregnancy sort of clued me into the idea that I might have to relinquish some control over my life (and body). The unpredictable bedlam of childbirth opened my eyes to the same notion. And life with our baby boy was pretty much just making sure I had pants on when I walked out the door. After a year with a new baby and a year-and-change with a new husband, I thought I had self-sacrifice all figured out, no longer needing to operate on my own whims (ignore my hostile “Yes” as the husband asks if he can run to Home Depot on my time).

Then, in a matter of months [TAKE A DEEP BREATH] I got pregnant again, husband decided he should switch career paths altogether and so needed to go back to school, we accidentally sold our house before husband found out if he’d been accepted into school, I had a mental breakdown, we moved in with my parents, husband was accepted to grad school, I birthed the second baby (a precious girl), husband started school a week later, for a few months I had the kids in one city while husband was in school in another city, poor sweet newborn had silent reflux and so wasn’t gaining weight and cried all the time, and so on and so forth I’m sure you get the picture by now [EXHALE].

This season of life could write a book in itself, but the one that really miffs me is now, the calm after the storm.

Now, we all live in the same town under one roof. The husband is excelling in school, and our lives have kind of evened out. I have a part time job. The newborn is now a five month old infant and thanks to God and a chiropractor she has bested her silent reflux. By all appearances, things are on the up and up…until…

My husband utters these hideous words, “Hey sweetie, just to let you know, I have a meeting Tuesday night and then job fairs on Wednesday and Thursday nights.” I was almost rendered to tears, with a pit in my stomach the size of something big and prickly. Husband asked what was wrong. I said (as I tend to say when I’m really truly not fine) “Nothing, I’m fine.”

I know what you’re thinking and why you’re scratching your head – because you’re not sure why I was so displeased with my sweet husband just for pursuing his dreams. It took me a while to figure it out myself.

As a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom, I feel like I’m always operating on everyone else’s time.

I tried to bend each of my children’s schedules to my will but darn it if they don’t just sleep when they feel like it. With one baby, I always found time for myself to write, or clean, or do something scandalously selfish like watch an episode (okay three) of Gilmore Girls. But now my adorable children have decided to function on opposite timelines. Sometimes I feel like a round-the-clock court jester, but without the natural skill-set. In the midst of this blessed chaos, I also have to work! The evenings are my time, when husband returns so I can pour a glass of wine and crash on the couch in a fit of mutual exhaustion and exhilaration. But now he’s gone and robbed me of that small pleasure this week, what with his career aspirations. It was the straw that broke this camel’s back.

And this bird you cannot change.

I just want to stay up all night piddling around the house, wake up when I want to wake up, eat without a baby in my lap, grocery shop all by myself, have coffee with an adult, and watch my own TV shows all day long without anyone yelling at me (for crying out loud!!!).

Lord help me, I can’t chaaange.

In the wake of world crises, mine seems admittedly insignificant. I suppose most parents have to arrive at this point of surrender eventually. I pray that it comes, like it has for me, with a dose of realizing that you were never really free to begin with, but for God. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

Sometimes life can seem so hideously claustrophobic, no matter how dire or flimsy your circumstances. You just want to be anywhere else, but have lost the keys to your car and are missing a shoe. My mantra for now: only in God, who has loved me in spite of myself, is my true freedom. With this remembrance I find that I can breathe. I can be grateful. And the walls don’t seem so close together. May the one who accomplished the ultimate sacrifice bring me to my knees minute by minute to get me through this day, transforming me with each selfish melt-down into His perfect image: stop-shaving-wave-a-lighter-in-the-air free.