i cant

Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying: I Can’t…

Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying… I can’t.
The other day, after only 4 hours of sleep, I had an “I can’t…” moment. It lasted all day. The three-year-old refused to come out of the bathroom because he didn’t want me to see him naked. I literally gave him a bath last night. The 2-year-old insists on wearing Batman underwear OVER his clothes. I change his diaper and get him dressed, and he throws a walleyed fit until I put the underwear on OVER his clothes. And yes, we went to library-time like this. Once the underwear is on he runs around like a crazy person growling “IMMM BAAMAN.” He also insists on wearing my older son’s size 13 football shoes; which smell like the devil’s armpit. When the three-year-old finally emerges from the bathroom, he is wearing knee high mismatched socks and his Spider-man crocks. Oh, and a John Deere hat.

Besides this, he is stark naked.

And I can’t: I can’t argue with him. I can’t take him to library time in this get-up, or lack there-of. I can’t get enough coffee in me to make it to nap time. I can’t chase “Baaman” and the naked boy wonder. I can’t finish my blog posts. I can’t register the 17-year-old for the PSAT. I can’t run another forgotten lunch to the school. I can’t face make-up, and I can’t face dealing with my hair. I can’t face the gym. I can’t face another meatloaf. I can’t get the bills mailed. I can’t believe the number on the scale. I can’t sign up for Weight Watchers… again. And I can’t open the sippy cup I just found under the bed, it is moving and has a pulse. I just can’t.

I fully believe I have reached my wits end when I step on a toy minotaur, barefoot. In my doctor’s office, there is a sign that says “describe your pain on a scale of 1 to stepping on a Lego.” On that pain scale, it’s a freaking minotaur. And now I can’t walk.


I hear this a lot, my kids say it a thousand times a day. “I can’t.” But I am not going to address it the way I originally planned. Initially, I thought it would be fun to laugh together about some of the odd things people say about foster care: “I have too big a heart to do foster care. I’d get hurt. I just can’t.” I can go on and on about this. But, I have never seen such a beautiful outpouring of sincere and called out interest in foster care since my blog post a week ago. So, I decided to turn tail and run with it.

“I can’t” either…I know exactly how you feel. I am a little more seasoned now, perhaps a little more jaded? I hope not. But probably. And you know what I just realized?

So what?

I wasn’t ever promised I would come out of this life unscathed or unbroken. I am 44 years old. I have several children; some are not permanent, but what is? So last week I was forced to ponder how I can most effectively do glory work. How I can tell you to say you can, when you feel like you can’t? It occurs to me the formula is in me. I can’t convince you to say I can’t. But I can suggest you remember what got you through all the times you couldn’t.

So I fully confess I say, “I can’t…” and then God moves.

And all of the sudden, I can. This happened with my husband and me, and we fearfully obeyed and have been richly blessed. How many of you can respond to this blog with a story of something you thought you could not do? And then God did a work in you that not only made it possible, but He also made it glory work. A child with a disability? Unemployment? Illness? A loved one in need? God bless your soul if you buried your baby, but if you’re reading this: you survived.

You did it.

And I bet you did it with more grace than you knew you could muster. Your heart and commitment to that life trumped your inability to conquer brokenness. Since I started blogging, I have seen some of the most nurturing and beautiful blogs by women who have lost so much I don’t know how they move their fingers on the keyboard. I think I can’t, but they did, and they do. And so I want to be better. They start a riot in me to be better, more positive and… just more. And I can.

So I decided today to tell you, you can. I do so from my comfy bed. I am jammied up and ready for a solid 4 hours of sleep. I did it. I made it through the day. My companions, small, naked lunatics with less than desirable bowel habits, are finally asleep. All is well. I can.

To be a Parent – Biological. Adoptive. Foster. Step. Single…

There are risks – immense risks. Bad things happen. The things we thought we could never do are forced upon us from the astronomical to the miniscule. The thing we said we could never do, we did. We did for it love and safety and for the greater good of the least of these. You think you cannot face the next step, the next tragedy or the next malady, and you simply add “Jesus..” in front of the “I can’t.”

“Jesus, I can’t..”

And you do.


Suddenly, you bravely unscrew the top of that $7.00 sippy cup.

The pressure that has accumulated under suction, burps and sizzles. You hear a scream. You think it’s you, but it’s the cup. You dump the black moldy plasma – you suspect was milk, out, and it thumps into the bottom of your stainless steel sink. The mass starts to slither away from the drain; you pause to gag and quickly turn on the hot water. You shove your fake French manicured fingernail into the top of the rubber stopper and sling it into the scalding stream of water. To ensure the thing dies and the cup is safe you dump a gallon of bleach into the sink. Bile rises in your throat, but the cup won’t win. You even blow air through the stopper to make sure it is clear of any more pungent filth. There are seasoned plumbers that would shudder in your presence.

You can, and you did.

And so my prayer for us today is that we will stop saying we can’t. That those words are eradicated from our vocabulary in this simple form. I am picturing hands upon heads, anointing you each with a good word, a strong word. A word of encouragement, a word from someone who says “I can’t” all the time and fervently prays the next time you must lament this statement it sounds like this instead…

“Jesus, I can’t.”

May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami


You might also like: Dear Moms – You are Freaking Amazing! and The Crockpot Confession

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  1. Melinda VanRy on October 10, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Yes, in our weakness, HE is strong…
    Thank you for offering encouragement through your struggles.

    • jami_amerine on October 10, 2016 at 7:56 am


  2. Jennifer Lane on October 12, 2016 at 11:14 am

    I would love to run into you at the library with your underwear clad superhero. I love that. Right now I can’t go take the iPad away from my 6 year old, even though we don’t allow screen time in the morning. (He had a fever all day yesterday. So… exception?) Oh well. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be a good parent. I think I can.

  3. Ashley on October 13, 2016 at 12:38 am

    Just wanted to let you know I’m really enjoying this series, and especially appreciated this post. Thank you for encouraging me that I CAN… with Jesus. I’ve certainly survived some things that I thought would kill me, and those now give me courage to face the present and future “I can’ts.”

  4. Tiffany Baez on October 13, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    I used to be ‘That Guy’ who said “I could not have a special needs child. Those women are saints. I just know that emotionally I can’t handle that.”
    And then my beloved Savior fearfully and wonderfully created in my womb a beautiful baby boy with Autism. And now when people say, “I don’t know how you do it.”…”I admire you, I couldn’t do that.”…etc. I would often like to scream, “I CAN’T DO IT EITHER!! What was I to do?! Give him back?! Ask for a refund?!” I do not do this. I am not yet willing to let the crazy leak out in that way. I smile instead and say, “You could and would if God ordained it to be so.” Thank you for writing this very encouraging piece.
    And I know comments ought not to have paragraphs, but one more thing; There are many days when I start out with, “I can’t.” But then I read something you wrote and laugh out loud and get out of bed with “The Final Countdown” music blaring in my head. (I have no idea why it’s The Final Countdown, but it seems to be my automatic rally soundtrack.) So thank you.

    • jami_amerine on October 13, 2016 at 12:53 pm

      Thank you wondermama! I believe He knew exactly what you could do for that boy!

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