I look down at the pregnancy test, bracing myself for one line, not two. We’d been trying to get pregnant for several months, and so far, it just wasn’t happening. Today was no different.

No doctor would categorize this season in my life as infertility. But right now, in the middle of it – it feels like it. And it’s hard when people ask, with the best of intentions, when we’re having another child. “Don’t you want more?” Um, yes, actually. Now let me find an excuse to end this conversation so I can go cry in the car, thanks a million.

I knew that I’d been bottling it up, but I just couldn’t bear to talk about it. I think it’s partly the feeling that if you do talk about it, you jinx your chances of it actually happening. Or that, maybe, it’s not really a problem unless you talk about it, and then it becomes a problem – so ignoring it is a better option. Plus, when you already have two children, it’s hard to not feel petty talking to those who have been trying longer with less success.

But the other day at a playgroup, while my children poured sand out on the deck and snitched a muffin from the blue plate on the kitchen island and climbed too high on someone else’s backyard playground, it just felt like too much. And as I watched a group of amazing women talk about what it means to live in God’s will and how that plays out in their lives, I felt like I was on edge. I made up excuses to go inside and check on my children when the conversation got hard. I rifled through my purse for Altoids that I know perfectly well weren’t there to distract myself. And when they asked for prayer requests, I promptly burst into tears over something that should not spur that kind of emotion (a vacation, for the love of Pete. Who cries over a vacation?)

The thing is, I wasn’t crying because of the vacation.

I cried because, in that moment, it just felt like too much.

And I cried because, sometimes, life just feels disappointing.

And despite all of the good things in my life, this one hard thing is taking over like a gigantic, lurking, silent elephant in the room. When you’re in the middle of it, whatever that “it” happens to be for you? Let’s face it: It’s one of the hardest, loneliest, downright ugliest places to be.

Feeling tired and worn at the end of the day, I fell into bed and woke up to only good things. Sneaking in to check on the girls, I found them both tucked into Elise’s bed, reading The Pout-Pout Fish and Fancy Nancy to their stuffed animals, Wonderheart and Funshine Bear. Playing house together, I heard Noelle (as the pretend Mama) call everyone in sight “sweetie.” Kneeling down to get a hug from my daughter, it lasted so long that the carpet made swirling patterns in my skin and my calves fell asleep.

No, this season of life may not look exactly like I’d expected. But I’ve found that my expectations of this life determine my attitude toward my circumstances. And I know that there’s sweetness to be found, located just past the bitterness of my emotions, if I’ll only stop and pay attention.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)