LIFE IN A NUTSHELL ◽ YOU
Have you ever been mad at something someone did…like really mad at them…and then soon after you accidentally do the exact same or a very similar thing? Anybody? I know I can’t be alone in this boat of guilt on the Sea of Shame. Has it happened with your kid? Anybody? Please tell me I am not the only one in the running for Bad Parent of the Year.
Here’s my story. See if you can relate.
The first week of school my daughter, Dotty, had a dentist appointment. Normally I wouldn’t schedule a dental visit that week but (thanks to Covid) our summer appointment was cancelled. Dotty has some teeth issues so we try not to skip appointments in order to stay on top of things. The day of her appointment I told Dotty I would pick her up after second period. I reminded her she would need to check herself out of school since visitors are currently not allowed on the campus (again…thank you Covid).
I arrived a few minutes before classes let out and waited. When I saw her emerge from the building she was already in full on teenager grumpiness mode about something that had occurred in class. We pulled away from the school to head to her dentist office and Dotty rambled on about what had ruined her morning…the whole 105 minutes she had been there.
When she took a breath, I just happened to ask her if she remembered to check out. She got very quiet.
Silence is golden except with toddlers and teenagers. When they are quiet, something is usually up…or at least it is so with mine.
She winced and said she had not. I pounded my fist on the steering wheel, whipped the car around, and headed quickly back to the school. The whole way there, I was berating her on how she has got to pay more attention, she cannot keep forgetting to do things I ask of her, she needs to be more focused, and on and on and on…the four blocks and two stop signs back to the school. I even went so far as to say if we were late for her dental appointment and I got charged for having to reschedule she would have to pay for it. (I am not even sure if her dentist does that, but it sounded good and Dotty believed it.)
Dotty ran back inside to check out then ran back to the car. We didn’t speak the 20 minutes it took to get to her dentist. We didn’t speak in the waiting room. We didn’t talk much on the way back to school. We finally both talked a little that evening but not like we normally would. My frustrations were still there and so were her hurt feelings.
Now fast forward four days. Early on a Saturday morning I was watering my flowers and working in the backyard. Around 10am I decide to run some water in our pool to fill it up a little. I told myself I would turn it off in an hour or so when I came back out to feed the dogs before we left for the day.
I spent longer than I planned weeding my flowers and before I knew it I was running late to take Dotty and some friends to a birthday party. I threw dog food in the bowls and headed inside to quickly shower and get ready to leave. (I am sure you can guess what happened, but humor me.)
We were gone all day and didn’t get home until dinnertime. I threw together an easy meal, we went through our nightly routine, and we both said our goodnights and headed off to bed. Around 2:30am on Sunday morning I was awakened by the sound of thunder. Just as I started to snuggle down deep into my covers thinking how lovely it is to sleep through a thunderstorm, my brain started to trigger a chain of thoughts in its drowsy state of being. Thunder...rain…water…pool water…I won’t tell you what I thought next but it was four letters and not a Baptist curse word.
I sprang to my feet, grabbed my glasses and peered out my bedroom window to the pool in the backyard. As sheets of rain poured from the sky and lightning danced across it I could see my backyard, patio, and sidewalks were covered in a thick layer of water. The pool had overflowed and the rain was just adding insult to injury. I ran to the back door, flung it open, and splashed through the water to turn off the spigot. As I sloshed through the back patio to get to the pool pump on the other side of the house in order to backwash the water out of the pool, a huge crash of thunder and a big bolt of lightning startled me. I prayed to God…please, oh please don’t let me get electrocuted. Dotty would kill me if people found me dead in nothing but a t-shirt and undies.
By the time I got the pool started backwashing the excess water out I was soaked to the bone and madder than a hornet at myself. It took almost an hour to get the pool drained low enough to handle the extra rain headed our way, but it took me much longer to calm down. I was mad at my forgetfulness. I was mad at the money that was quite literally down the drain. I was mad at how I had treated Dotty earlier that week.
When Dotty woke that morning, I had to ask for her forgiveness. I told her what had happened with the pool (she too was glad I didn’t get electrocuted, but she said it was for several reasons…though what I was wearing was definitely one of them). While she accepted my apology, she never gloated or condemned me or my parenting skills. She simply reminded me that we all forget sometimes.
The following Wednesday Dotty called me just as I got home from dropping her off at school to tell me she had left her Chromebook on the charger at the house and asked if I could bring it back up to the school for her. I told her I could. She sheepishly asked me if I was mad at her. I smiled into the phone and told her that I wasn’t…because we all forget sometimes. However, I have asked her every morning since then if she has her Chromebook before we leave the house, and she in turn asks me if I have water running anywhere. Both seem like fair questions.
Many times in the days that passed since those events I have thought about other things I have forgotten. Things like…
Going to God in prayer before I go to worry.
Asking God for help before I ask others.
Seeking God’s guidance before I make my own plans.
Searching God’s Word before I search the internet for its worldly advice.
Some days (especially lately…thanks again Covid) I forget that God has a plan for me. That He is working all things for my good. That He loves me and He cares about me. Some days I forget that God wants a relationship with me not just a ten minute morning devotional and a five minute prayer before I drift off to sleep. Some days I forget that God never leaves or forsakes me, but rather I am the one who goes all prodigal-daughter at times. Some days I forget that God will forgive me…even when I have a hard time forgiving myself. Some days I forget that God is still in control even when this fallen world feels so out of control.
Sometimes I forget that I am just human. Sometimes I forget that Dotty is still just a kid. Sometimes I forget that little things don’t matter in the big scheme of things and most of life is made up of little things…