It’s Sunday night, and I”m tired. But it’s a good tired. Ben and I played a lot with the kids today. And we put on rain boots and jackets and went splashing through puddles as we walked to Lou Malnati’s for pizza in the pouring rain.
And I was reminded today, as I was throughout this whole past week, how life reverses both ways. From perfect, sunny days that turn rainy all the way back to rainy days that turn out to be fun despite the puddles. Or perhaps, because of the puddles.
To give you the end of last Friday’s story, Lucy continued to cry all the way home. When she continued to sob at home, I got desparate for something to calm her and went up to my closet where I store future Christmas gifts (yes, I know it’s only August, and I’m ridiculous for starting already, but I pretty much am a single-parent the month of December since my husband is in ministry, so I like to just get it done early). Anyways, I went in the bin and grabbed the one thing she has been asking for the past year that I finally found on ebay– a retro Rainbow Brite doll (yup, that’s what I get for thinking I’m a sly, early shopper– the best gift is already ruined!)
And as I’m handing it to her, an even larger feeling of guilt sweeps over me as I realize that I’m instilling a materialistic comfort habit that will probably lead to her becoming an emotional shopaholic one day. (honestly when I told my husband about everything, he was completely understanding about the stroller accident, as something similar happened with him and Lucy and a bike a couple years ago, but he was really upset that I pulled the doll out!)
It did the temproary job of calming her down, however, and reassured me that the crying (which ceased immediately) was dragging on more out of fear than pain.
But as quickly as her tears vanished, mine appeared. An old friend had stopped by to see our new house, and as I was showing her the upstairs, I felt my voice break and I couldn’t compose myself. She, of course, told me that I was being too hard on myself and that she had done so many similar things when her boys were young.
And you know what? Throughout the entire past week, I received comments and e-mails from people, sharing their “guilt stories” of ways their kids were injured on their account. And while a couple of the stories honestly disturbed me, they really did help. A couple of them even made me laugh and smile to myself.
And as my week progressed, I realized that there are a ton of reversals that occur in the span of a week, or even a day for that matter. And sometimes life seems to reverse on its own when we give it a moment…..like when Lucy was pouting on Wednesday because there was a toy she wanted that I wouldn’t get her at the store. She ran into her room and shut the door, and I was too frustrated to try to reason with her, so I just sat on my bed and read with Elli, feeling like I had created this material=hungry little blonde monster. But to my surprise, a few minutes later, she came hopping up on my lap and thrust a handmade card in my face that said, “I’m sorry mom. I love you, daddy, and Elli more than things.” followed by a great, big bear hug.
And while I beamed and hugged her on Wednesday, I found myself feeling irritated on Thursday when both girls were whining and kept begging to watch tv all afternoon. I kept waiting for the day to reverse on its own– for the girls to come prancing up to me with handmade cards again that said “We will never whine again and we don’t even care about tv!” But the cards never came. And I kept thinking, “Why does it take so much to make them happy?”
And it was then that I realized that it was my frame of mind that needed a reversal– not my day. I got out some play doh and sat on the porch with Lucy while Elli took a little snooze in her stroller near us. We sat and chatted and played, and it seemed like just that hour of one-on-one attention turned the whole rest of the day around. She frolicked around the house the rest of the night, singing little songs.
And I kept thinking, “wow, it takes so little to make kids happy.”
So I guess this is just how life is– one reversal after another. And while it often takes so little to turn it around, it does take something.
Whether a pause. A prayer. A deep breath. An empathetic ear. A shift in consciousness. A brief moment of reflection is worth the likelihood that the day– or week or month or year– will turn around.