Friday, April 28, 2017

Time is spent.

Standing at the sink, unloading the dishwasher. I stare out at grey clouds and blue light and think of all of the ways that God has blessed our family, our community. I marvel at the communications I get daily from these lovely people...prayer request, praise reports, plans to meet and spend time. Time. Time is spent. You choose how you spend it. If only we had an account we could see with our eyes that showed us the balance trickling down with every choice we make. Will I spend these moments on gratitude? Will I spend them looking into the eyes of my children? Will I lose precious minutes staring at the computer screen, or will I spend them with my sweet husband? Either way, once they are spent, there is no getting them back.

I wash the counters and drift into thoughts of the future. We really cannot know how long we have here. How many days?

Dinner is in the crock pot now. I call the kids to feed them lunch and in my head I check off the things left "to do" in my day.

Clean the bathroom
Change the sheets
Fold the laundry
Work on photos(always more to do there)
Take a walk? The kids love that...that is a good use of time.

Then it will be *time* for dinner and baths and bedtime stories and sleep. This day flies by...I could use more sleep! Tomorrow is another day.

Time spent.

Standing at the sink in the early morning light, looking out at rain and waiting for my coffee to finish brewing. Stare out that window and think about the day ahead. Dogs shuffle around my feet hoping I am preparing food and crumbs will be in their reach soon. Coffee is done, *time* for quiet and devotional reading and just letting my brain finish waking up. After that, it will be *time* for exercise and a shower and the day will begin...will I choose to spend those moments gently? Or will I give in to the urgency to get things done and allow *time* to hijack my heart and mind until they are roaring down the tracks out of control?

Count out the pills and vitamins one by one, mine and theirs. Set the diffusers up for the day, pour the water, add the oil. Lights on, dogs know the day is coming now and the shuffling gains momentum. Give them their pills too. Wood floor crackles under my feet as I turn on lights and push in chairs.

Set up the toaster, set out the cups, pour the milk, grab the eggos from the freezer...the day is gaining momentum now. 

Standing at the sink staring out...deep breath. Call the kids, negotiate clothing for the one who isn't quite able yet to do it all alone.

*Time* for breakfast. All of the thoughts that have stored up in their minds over night while we were apart are spilling out now in a rush. Is that because I rush? Deep breath, slow down. "Slow down honey, I am listening."  Comb the hair, help with stubborn shirt sleeves. Direct em to the table between mouthfuls of words and a flurry of thoughts.

Breakfast is over, move on to the next thing...and the next and the next. 

Fast forward. More time spent.

Standing at the sink, staring out at those clouds. Glad I got them out Monday while it was sunny! Load breakfast dishes into the dishwasher and wipe down counter tops. *Time* to feed the dogs, you'd think I had starved them! Break up a fight between kids, finish the kitchen mess and move to the vacuum to get a days dust and dog hair off of the floor. Call kids to the table to color/paint/play with sand/whatever it takes to stop the arguing.

Floor is clean. Kids are moving outside to play as the clouds broke up and the sun came out.

Time spent
(in mobile format? Scroll down, there's more!)

Standing at the sink, staring out at my kids in the yard. Am I doing this right? Am I giving them what they need from me most? How do I break the chains we have already passed down to them? Where do I sign up to fight for their hearts? Stare at the glass jars in front of me, colors glowing in the cracks, a few chips...hoping we can love them well and teach them of their beauty. Help them learn to glow in the colors that only they can share with our world. 

Break up another argument...this time over a ball. "Time to come in, lets find something else to do!"

Clean the bathroom, change the laundry, check dinner in the crock pot. 

Braid the girly's hair, *getting low on the spray, need to mix up a new batch*, brush teeth, find socks, help with her jacket. The bus will be here any moment. She wants to pick flowers and mess with the bees out front. We sit on the wall and sort rocks instead. The bus arrives and takes her away to another day with her friends at school. A break from our home life.  She looks forward to these breaks. "Is it preschool today mommy?" ...there is always a smile when I say "yes, there is preschool today honey."

Wave goodbye, blow kisses, watch the bus pull away. Turn back to the house...we really need to get moving on the repairs. But, this is not the moment for that. One foot in front of the other back in through the door.  Maybe we will take a walk now.

Time spent.

Standing at the sink staring out at blue skies. Gratitude washes over me as I look at the bright colors of our play set in the sunlight. Watch the dogs chase and bark and play. My son is sitting at the table eating lunch and singing a song he made up in his head. My mind turns to thoughts of his future...I hope the song never leaves him.

Time to change sheets. Time spent.

Standing at the sink staring out at the colors of sunset stretching across the sky. Dinner is over, kids are downstairs watching a show together and(for the moment) not fighting. Dogs have been fed, Dishes are done. Wipe the counters and note the creak in our newish kitchen floor. Shouldn't' be creaking so soon. Another day is wrapping up. I need to find clean pajamas and get ready to cover the bedtime routine soon. 

Stories and kisses and giggles and blankets. Lights out. I love you. Goodnight, sweet dreams!

Time spent.

Standing at the sink, staring out at the black and the few lights left on by neighbors late into the night. Tomorrow is another day. Am I doing it right? Am I loving them enough? Do they know how amazing they are? I hope they know how amazing they are...

Check the doors, check the kids, watch the sweet sleeping faces for a few seconds and lift prayers to Abba for them. 

Lights out. Time to pray over our home for the night. Sleep is coming. Tomorrow is another day.

Time spent. Hopefully time well spent.

She finally said the words I really needed to hear...

Somehow she at least understands that my behavior is not about her. Somehow we managed to teach her what rude is...and that it is not ok. Those are good things. I am holding onto those good things.

For months now(and especially recently) I have struggled to manage basic conversation with her...whether it is in response to her lack of impulse control or just the reflexive garbage from my own childhood, I have not been consistently kind to her. And, yesterday, she told me.

I was in the midst of an exasperated moment. I was frustrated and tired and overwhelmed and she was trying to explain something to me...I don't even know what...It sounded like she was telling me she had taken something(a thing that happens due to her lack of impulse control)...but, she could not describe the thing well. And, I am not even sure I was understanding her correctly. She kept trying to tell me what I was not grasping, with the same words...over and over...I don't even know why...but, she did, and after repeatedly saying that I did not understand what she was trying to tell me...I finally said "I do not freaking understand!" The tone was wrong...the attitude was wrong. I was communicating that she was a waste of my time, that she was an interruption, that I did not enjoy her many things that I did NOT really want to communicate to her. Those things are not true! She is a treasure...

The good news is that she knows it on some level. Her response to my statement was "you are SO rude to me!"

Sigh...she's right.

Outside of our home, the people who do not live with the constant lack of impulse control, or the constant chatter, the flooded basement or the crayon markings on freshly painted walls...the missing keys/wallet/whatever... the people who do not have to put the rubber to the road of living all of this out with her can see her as the ray of sunlight that she is, pretty much non stop. They tell her daily, they SEE her daily...They are in an environment(for two hours a day, four days a week) to see her at her very best. Her brother is not there to antagonize her or offer an opportunity to antagonize himself. She is in a controlled environment. They do not see her fighting to gain attention over her brother, they do not see her deliberately poking at him(because she most siblings). They do not find themselves searching and searching and searching for something that they *know* they left right here, only to realize they have not yet asked her...and then watching the light go on when she remembers taking that thing and goes to retrieve it from wherever she has put it.

They get her absolute best.

I have lost sight of that part of her...I want it back.

With tears in her eyes she said the words I needed to hear. And, somehow, hearing those words from her...something inside of me changed. I remembered that I was talking to a person. A human being. Not "just a child".

"Just a child" comes from my own childhood. Most of us know the "just a child" mentality. It involves disregard and a perceived lack of value, or place in society. I grew up "just a child"...but, I never wanted to pass that on to my daughter. But in my struggle to cope with her childlike impulses and struggles, I have relegated her to something/someone to be managed. A source of chaos and distress. A "child"...not a person.

I often wonder what might have happened if I had felt safe telling my father "you are SO rude to me!"...I wonder if anything would have changed. I seriously doubt it.   But, it would have indicated that I had SOME clue of my worth. I didn't. I did not even wonder that until I was much older and was starting to get a glimpse of my own value as an individual human being. The reality is that I am still me. The "me" I was way back at age 5 is the same "me" I am today...just with more experience and a better understanding of the world around me. But, I was no less who I am deep down. All of what makes me a unique person was already present. Oh that I would remember the same is true for her.

She is incredibly unique. I want to know the person she is...I want to stop treating her like an item on my "to do" list...or a barrier to my peace of mind.

I wish she had not had to say those words. I wish that I had always been the kind of mom she deserves. I wish that I were totally free of all of my flaws and sin and confusion and struggle. I am I did the only thing I could do. I stopped...I grew silent...I refused to do anything to make her feel she should take back her words...I honored the truth of those words, and I apologized.  I apologized to her and owned my failing. That is the best I could do. And, I will continue to do that when I have a weak moment. I hope to live out of a truly changed perspective. I hope she does not need to do quite so much forgiving going forward. I hope to support and feed her understanding of her value. But, while I work on that...I will apologize for the times that my behavior does not reflect her value in my own eyes...not to mention her value in the eyes of the One Who created her. And, I will continue to seek His face and His voice and His view of my beautiful daughter, through HIS Eyes.