I’m not talking about filling baskets with flowers and surrepetitiously hanging them on neighbors’ doors then hiding in the bushes, to wait for them to find the beauty.
That, my friends, is a call for help.
I mentioned a few months ago that I began to track the days where I want to quit my job, i.e., mothering my children. It didn’t take long for a pattern to emerge. These days usually occurred at the zenith of my hormonal cycle, during an absence of the chidren’s father from this country and the seeming absence of the sun from the earth, but they tell me it was just Michigan.
Today Paul is in the country, however it is Monday, a grey and drizzly Monday and I am the teensy weensiest bit hormonal.
Did I mention of the last seven days, six have been plagued by headaches?
I approached the day with caution, walking gingerly and moving slowly.
We made it through the morning amicably enough and then the big kids started to claw at each other. Lydia was prickly and Christoper was poking sticks at her and getting distracted during exercises meant to help him focus. I gave them separate work to do and continued regular and deep breathing. It was only when the girls were shrieking at each other in their room and I discovered that it had taken Christopher ten minutes to do HALF of one problem where he only wrote two numbers and one of them was a backwards three that my head began to throb. It was at this point that I called Paul and asked him if he would be willing to work on math with Christopher after dinner before he left for rehearsal. He agreed and then said, “I sent you an e-mail…”
Now I know it is better to just listen to people rather than fly ahead mentally and finish their sentences. I have been told this but I can’t seem to stop myself from leaping into a millisecond’s pause and imagining my own conclusion, or several hundred of them. If I simply listened I would be spared devastating disappointments of this nature:
I did not hear:
…I’m coming home early.
…I’ve decided to educate the children in my spare time, freeing you to stand around looking pretty when you are awake and not reading.
….Watch for the florist’s van – I sent you flowers!
…I found a $1000 bill.
…I’m coming home right now.
Instead, I heard this:
“I have been asked to go to Korea, June* to *.
I went to get the calendar and began to write “Paul/Korea” on the previous Sunday and then acknowledged the wishful thinking, “That means you will be leaving the Saturday before, right?”
“Yeah, this looks like a Saturday to Saturday trip.”
I did not make the open mouthed pleghm clearing sound I favor for registering annoyance. I didn’t even allow myself a sigh.
Paul knew I was exercising restraint and paused for a moment before he told me he loved me and said goodbye.
It ought to be enough: A man tells his wife some disappointing news and she responds like an adult, which she is, feelings of a three year old to the contrary. I tell you, it doesn’t feel like enough. When I act with maturity I want bands to play, speeches made and bouquets tossed onto the stage, but I guess I get to settle for the maturity itself.
I got my kids some lunch and sat down to write what I was committed to – despite everything, to back away from the precipice and to get a break. In the time I have been writing the Tylenol I took earlier began to take effect, the kids settled down and the phone rang. It was a friend.
“What are the homeschoolers doing this dark and drizzly day? Want to come over?”
“If we do, will you unfurl your wings and let your nimbus shine?”
“Yes. Come and bask in the light.”
“May I bring anything?”
“No…not that we’ll have anything.”
“Yes, and coffee.”
After I hung up I turned to Christopher who had been whispering pleas about cookies. I started to tell him we didn’t have any and then remembered Paul’s response to begging last night, “We’re saving some.” Investigation of the tallest shelf of the snack cupboard revealed the coveted plastic box. Pulling it down we found two cookies.
Lydia materialized out of nowhere.
“There are two cookies,” I said.
“I’ll give you a couple bites of mine,” she said.
“How can we EVENLY divide two cookies between three people?”
We decided we could cut them into thirds and each person could have two pieces. I made the cuts and then gave Lydia first pick, Christopher second and third, then Lyida fourth. I took the two remaining pieces.
You might not add all this up and find the sum the existence of a loving God, but I do.
The last year he has been dogging my trail with Himself and he won’t let me escape. All I had was fear and my own delusion of independence. I threw those at him and he gave me grace and love, peace and joy. Words can’t describe it.
Can you imagine?
He sees me.
Can you believe that?
I have spent years shaking down, my parents, my siblings, my husband, my children, my home, God help me, my laundry room, report cards, the scale, the mirror – you name it – for contentment, my self-image, for my worth, but they can’t give it to me. I have stood on this stage and shook my fists and wept, even screamed at the injustice that no matter HOW HARD I TRY IT IS NEVER ENOUGH.
I am not enough; that is the truth.
And yet there is grace.
Why won’t I take the stinking grace? That is the eternal question.
Today I was determined to receive grace, to stand in the truth that I do not have what it takes to raise these children – with gentleness and strength – without it…without Him.
When I wrote “Mayday” above I was crying out to God and pulling myself aside to wait for him. I busied myself writing this to put myself on ice. And he came, with peace and quiet, the absence of pain, friendship and cookies. With this bouquet he turned this Mayday into a May Day.
This is me hugging the flowers and bowing to lay myself prostrate on the ground.
*I added this photo on May 2, 2012. It was taken Summer 2006 and this post was written May 2006. I wanted you to see how gorgeously messy these kids were, in every sense of the words.