Rushing, always rushing. I grab a bag of snacks and wait impatiently the three minutes it takes the corn to pop. My oldest daughter opens the side door of our house and hollers that one child is pulling another’s hair inside the van. It will be an all-out brawl if I don’t get out there. And get out there fast. I move away from the noise and quicken my pace.
As predicted, a quarrel is certainly underway. One child is crying, another is looking smug and still another is keeping track of the score. The youngest is scolded, adding bellows to the fray. Soon, her crying reaches a fevered pitch, and we have not yet pulled out of the driveway. I glance over the barn yard and see my father-in-law tearing rotten shingles from the old milk house, looking like he wished he could melt into the woodwork. I wonder what thoughts are going through his head as he watches this little scene. I know what thoughts are going through mine. I buckle seat belts, and we drive off in spite of the commotion.
The crying turns to screaming as I pull out the lane. I am lecturing all the way, to no avail. My youngest is enraged and there is no reasoning with her at this point. I am sure my father-in-law is getting an earful as we turn and drive by him again to go up the side road. I drive 2 kilometres before finally pulling over to the shoulder. Warnings have been issued and this is the last straw. Mama has had enough. I turn the van around and we go home. I am fuming, visibly beyond my breaking point.
And so it goes. Life is full of moments like this. My children quarrel, argue, whine and cry at different intervals throughout the day. I lecture, negotiate, discipline and comfort in response to the ebb and flow of their behaviours and emotions. Through it all, I look for blessed quietness in moments and find these moments where I might least expect them.
We take another road trip the following day, this time complete with Dad at the wheel. I am looking forward to a few minutes alone to gift shop while the crew go to a park for a swim. I unload towels, swimming trunks and snacks, moments from closing in on a deal. I’ll be gone one hour, I promise my husband, Tops. I turn to leave, and my eleven year old son says, Please, can I come too, Mom? I try to mask my disappointment at his request, I know already that I cannot say no, but, oh, how I had so been looking forward to a few minutes by myself! I begin to reason with him in the hopes of swaying him with the lure of a pool. He is unmoved. Can you and me spend some alone time together? he pleads. I am touched, at this point, that he would choose me over all this. I absorb his question, feeling the impact of my child’s petitioning. And yes, I do open the door for him, and we drive off together to look through small shops. I lead, and he follows.
I am surprised by the quiet and the ease with which I am able to work through my list with only this one child in tow. We make small talk, and I realize how little time he and I have these days to just spend time together. This, my first born, whom I played dinosaurs and blocks with, what feels like mere days ago, is now one interested in shoe shopping and gift selection. I am so preoccupied with the little ones who need me most that I often overlook the older ones who need me also, but in different ways. And I marvel at how this son of ours is growing up. He is a young man now, and he needs to be acknowledged for the individual he is becoming. We make our purchases and all too soon, the hour is up. I head back to the park with a full heart. I have been blessed by this unexpected glitch in my plan for the day.
Wise, we are, who understand that perspective is of utmost importance in the midst of everyday living. We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are. (Anais Nin) If we are feeling rushed and frantic, situations will look like crises. If we are relaxed and level-headed, situations will appear manageable. When children cry and fuss, it is often a matter of my perspective how the situation is interpreted. That, and a realization that sometimes I just need to get away from the craziness and experience quiet reflection. Sometimes that is the best immediate fix. When life doesn’t turn out as planned, my perspective can be one of finding the good in that situation or seeing the bad. Attitude adjustments will get one closer to the best perspective every time. The more I line myself up to what I know to be True, that sure and steady foundation on which I base my parenting and my life choices, the easier I am able to handle what comes my way.
Hubby driving, I turn to look into the back seat of our van, as we head back home after a full day in town. I am… thankful. To be sure, there will be crying tonight, of that I can be certain! And before long, someone will instigate a fight; but it is quiet at present, and peaceful. I have innumerable blessings, and there are five I can count by name, riding with me towards home.