Last week was one of those. A week that sapped us of sleep, and strength. Of two cars with issues that drained the bank just like they did last month. Of many things broken in this house.
My mug, known by all as an extension of my arm and used every day.
My mug, this week. Followed by my favorite tea cup and my grandmother’s porcelain ash tray. All in a week.
I sighed, I felt disappointment… deeply struggled with the inner beast… but no children were broken and that is something, if you consider how close I was to edge of my walk in grace. That fine line where the sidewalk ends in this walk with my Guide. Sometimes, he’s just gonna have to carry me, because I can’t take a step.
I teetered on the edge for a minute there, but I took a deep breath. I’ve been here before more times than I could ever recall enough detail to relate to you. It’s that often. I can scream with the best of them. I can stomp and slam doors and rage to high heaven. I have, and sometimes I do, but I’m finding that it’s not as often anymore and that this grace that is said to be sufficient… it actually is if you let it be. I wonder how I got to the place where suddenly I’m choosing grace over rage more often than not. Especially when current circumstances would predict otherwise, based on past experiences and outbursts from my inner godzilla.
I suppose it could be a phase. It could be my constant expose to the need for it, and the scarred knees from falling over and getting back up, over, and over, and over, and…
I think, like many of my other blog posts will tell you, God likes to teach me how not to lose my **IT** by giving me many opportunities. Hundreds of them. Could it be that I’m finally getting the message?
Here are a few things I’ve learned in my battle between choosing a saving of Grace or a losing of **IT**.
1. WHEN I RAGE AGAINST THE GRACE. The rage does not heal and it does not put back together my pieces of broken things…the mug I love and the heirloom that I never used anyway. It was beautiful and special, but what need to I REALLY have for my grandmother’s ash tray? No, crossing the line won’t bring the things back. Any of the things. It simply breaks and bends more things around me, and the next in line tends to be my children.
2. BE PREPARED, IT WILL KEEP HAPPENING. I, alone, choose my focus, to be aware of where I am and who I am to them. To accept the truth that it is not a question of IF I will ever be on the edge of losing it again, but WHEN. We have to stop crossing our fingers and hoping for days where we are not tested. Let’s simply agree to accept as fact that we will be. We should even PREDICT that today we will be, and the real question is which way we will step. After it all, I know what happens when I cross over from this field of grace to the release of anger. The grass is not greener on the other side. Sure, there is some bizarre feeling of release in that short moment of Losing **IT** that I can try to convince myself feels “good” to let go of. It’s not good. It creates a wasteland in tiny hearts around me. Angry, selfish parenting…making our children’s mistakes and struggles about US and our day is self-centered and excludes their needs. This is THEIR day, too. I do not own it.
3. I CAN’T CHOOSE THEIR OUTCOME. My kids are individuals, who also choose their own opinion and response to my behavior. I can not guarantee that they will not reach adulthood feeling cracked and warped from being in our care. I do not choose to parent with Grace in hopes of creating perfectly behaved little people and adults that will give me a great reputation. I do it to give them an example of giving in, of choosing grace even when you don’t want to. Their perception of their childhood is their own and I can’t control how they process our moments together, the good or the bad. Many a child has felt wounds from parents who struggled to be their best but all are human and all fail. I can’t choose their reaction to us. That is theirs. I just want to be by their side in their life, which is where God has put me. Just what I asked for!!! And how I treat them will dictate how these children will trust me and want me beside them in the future, when it become THIER choice to call me…or not. Their future decisions about me start with how I care for them now. Their future decisions on when to run to grace and when to lose their own **IT** will conjure up memories of a mom. What do I want them to remember?
4. I CAN’T CHOSE CIRCUMSTANCES, BUT MY RESPONSE IS MY CHOICE. And that’s good because some of our current circumstances are much less than I had hoped. I still have my choice. I choose my actions, right now. I can refuse to cross over when I know I’m there at the edge of control, the steam rising before my eyes. When I have that split second of awareness, that moment of saving grace or losing my **IT**. A still small voice says “breathe”, but do I want to stomp my foot and scream “No!”? That point of no return where I either “Hulk” their mom before their eyes and turn green in the face, or fall back onto grace that will save me from myself and what that ability to rage inside me is capable of. Dear God, why did you have to make it so easy to go green? Moms would be so much better with your kids if you made us a little more Stepford. Just kidding. Thank you SO MUCH for not making me a Stepford!
5. I AM NOT THE **IT**, IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT ME. Last week wore on more than just me. Each day had it’s something for him. Husband flew away and flew back. Locked keys in the car and had to walk miles. He worked late every night except for the night that his car gave us fits and I had to drive across town to get him. That was his only “early” night at 9:30pm. Then the weekend came with no rest but side jobs to fill in for those ends that aren’t meeting at the end of this month. Then the man had hours upon hours of working on the cars and fixing his wife’s laptop so that she can write and share our the innermost whatever of our lives. This man is amazing. How did he happen to me? He wears shoes like this to work on the cars. I find myself in a lack of content because I haven’t got the color I want my shoes to be. Dumb woman. I want my eyes open. I’m only alone in this when I close them to these things.
And after all of that, a week filled with so much struggle, it was also the most filled with grace and a surrounding of prayer and precious moments with children. I was filled with utter shock, to be honest, and then joy at how often I found myself turning away from the edge of hysteria and losing of **IT**. I did it! I found it! I may not always, but I feel strength for tomorrow from what I accomplished in my heart last week. Looking back, I wonder, did I really make it through without one outburst?
I’ll take it, but I’m not applying for any awards ceremonies. Because that was just one week. Now there’s this one and I’m not one to take bets on the future. Just taking each day as it comes, thank you very much.
This morning, things were sailing along smoothly, for a Monday. All were fed and dressed with bags packed and lunches made for our two out-of-home-schoolers. The homeschoolers were ready to begin. It’s a new week and the last one is behind me. Then after we settle in, husband walks back in the front door with the 7 year old. Ladies, toddlers aren’t the only ones who wait until the last minute to go in their diaper and make you late. For those of us who are still in this diaper business with older kids….**IT** still happens. So, there I stood once again. He will be late for school, again. So will his sister. Because of a load of **IT**. And I’m not feeling the extreme edge of anger that I could, but I know this is another of those cross over moments. Mondays are already hard days, do we really have to start with **IT**? Yes, apparently we do and I don’t get a choice about that. **IT** already happened.
My choice now is in how I respond. So I walk my big boy to the bathroom trying to convince him that he DID go, but he doesn’t believe me because he doesn’t feel it or smell it. He doesn’t understand. We go through the routine, again. And I know my words, my expression and my choices will effect how this guy feels about himself as time marches on and he is still in diapers in a year… maybe even two. Third grade? Fourth? He’s the one who has to process this. I’m helping HIM. I can’t feel sorry for myself to still be dealing with diapers. This is not about me.
And he’s off to school. All taken care of. Not yelled at or shamed..whew. I made it through another change.
I’ve washed my hands 8 times. I still smell like **IT**. Now I don’t want to drink my coffee. Gets my hands too close to my face and ruins it all for me. Sigh…
I remember complaining when he was 4, unaware that the issue was not stubbornness or laziness. I did thinks like the Extreme Potty Training Makeover. Why would this kid not potty train!?!? Now, as he nears the age of 8, and we understand what he faces ( Read: A Boy And His Poop, Getting To Know Asperger Syndrome) I have to tell you. I am thankful for his issue with **IT**. Every time I change him is another chance to exercise my soul. Will I go for saving grace or for losing **IT**.
And here’s the deal. God is so into hilarity. He absolutely knows my sense of humor well and my love for a bit of irony. He has quite literally used almost 8 years of actual feces to teach me how to not to lose my **IT**. You’ve gotta admit it. That is pretty much awesome. (Want more hilarity? Read: A Pathetic Tale of Miserable Hilarity, And The Quest For A Shower)
So for those of you who have asked “How I do it”, who seem to think that I have something you don’t, be aware that I spent my time Waiting For Supermom. She doesn’t exist. I, of all people, will never reach a stake of being some kinda Mama Yoda. And let us not forget, Yoda was 900 years old!!! That’s way more practice than any of us will ever have. And there’s something else to consider…..
Notice, you never see them together, just like Miley Crunkis and Justin Blueberry… There may be something to this Yoda vs. Hulk thing. Saving Grace vs. Losing our **IT**.
I think the answer is in finding the grace that is IT, because it IS always available. The question is not whether grace exists in our moments of struggle with **IT**. His grace is present in ALL of the moments.
The ones leading up to **IT**.
The moment **IT** happens.
The second we choose whether Saving or Losing…. Grace or **IT**.
And ultimately, the grace is still there….. even if you chose to lose your **IT** this time.
It’s there. Always. You have to choose to know it, see it, grasp it, cling to it and don’t let go. I pray that it won’t take YOU almost 8 years of daily **IT**… but if that is what it will take, I’m gonna have to pray that you be blessed with lots of **IT**.
Now, while you try to process all of that…. I’m going to go wash my hands again. I really thought I had it gone that last time. But then, I always do and there’s always more…. Thankful for more…again.