I was in the kitchen emptying the dish drainer when I heard the familiar movement yesterday afternoon.
The handle turned, the hinges silently allowed the door to glide open as the solid plank of hardwood slid from the tight frame.
“Hiiigghhhhheeeeee” I sang. “How are you?”
My song was met with silence
. footsteps .
… then an exhausted “fine.”
My youngest is like my oldest – a die-hard introvert.
At the end of a school day, I know she is drained
by being under authority, beside living bodies and immersed in noise.
Today was no exception.
She began with an accusation that I called her principal that morning.
I had, in fact, spoken with her principal … a good three weeks earlier,
but not that morning, I defended.
Next? “Would you fill my cup with water?”
I didn’t know WHAT cup she was asking me to fill.
Her water “bottle” was on the counter and dirty.
I needed clarification and she balked.
And as is her standard, she did not add “please.”
As I stepped into the adjacent utility room,
I emptied fluffy, fresh towels from the dryer,
she emptied her backpack and
we both filled with frustration.
I think I then reminded her that she had neglected to order a Kindle book for school.
I moved back to the kitchen to finish popcorn that I was preparing for a snack.
I believe I was defending why the refrigerator was in the middle of the kitchen floor
when I began to prepare to melt butter for the popcorn.
“NO. Butter can’t go in a bowl!”
She wanted me to microwave-melt the butter in a coffee mug … her preferred method.
My hands went in the air – truce style – and I said, “That’s it. I’m done.”
I verbally listed the contentious topics of our ten minute conversation,
I told her she could finish the popcorn
and I went back to my sewing project.
I was thankful that I did the right thing.
I set a boundary.
This is new for me.
For decades, I have let someone else make all the decisions
about how they should treat me.
I didn’t get angry or hurt.
I set a boundary.
And I walked away.
I did well.
This morning, when I saw this HONY post, I could relate to this woman.
She is a director at a children’s refuge center in South Sudan. She told Brandon about the children’s backgrounds. She said, “Many of them were malnourished, abandoned, or regularly sexually abused. Some of them have witnessed extreme violence.” Then she said, “Often their trauma is so bad, that when the children first arrive, they can be very hateful toward me. But I feel blessed by the hate. Because I know it’s part of the healing process. And if they need someone to hate so that they can heal, I’m glad it can be me.”
Isn’t that beautiful? She does not expect to be appreciated. She does not require that she is respected.
She understands that … hurting people … sometimes hurt others.
Please don’t be misled. I am not relating my daughter’s struggles with those of these children. I am relating my parenting to the mentoring of this beautiful woman.
I k.n.o.w that my child has not lived the life of these children who are growing up in dire, dangerous circumstances. Our struggles here pale in any form of comparison.
But, everybody on earth has struggles. And we each have to learn to work through our hurts.
From the most tragic situations of terror
to the simple, growing pangs of my teen,
people need unconditional love to heal from their personal wounds.
They need to know they won’t be pushed away
when their healing is messy and uncomfortable.
I parent alone. Parenting alone is one of the hardest parts of divorce for me.
Glory doesn’t live at home any longer and James is not home very much.
So, life is Joy.and.me.
Sometimes it’s … NO …. often it is difficult to absorb all the blows
that parenting dishes out
and make all the decisions that must be made.
I’m thankful that God gives me the stamina to stand.
And I’m thankful for His direction daily ….
His altering of my perspective.
In thinking about yesterday, I have realized
that I neglected something important in yesterday’s interaction.
Before I walked away,
I should have brought awareness to the conversation.
I should have said,
“Ya know, I understand that you’re probably tired. I know that you’re hungry. And I realize that you may even be angry because I talked to the principal about a topic that you and I struggle over. But, I’m on your team. I am for you, not against you. I love you and always want the best for you. So, I’m going to step away and give you some space.”
That is what I should have done.
I’ve heard people talk about becoming paralyzed
Sometimes, trying to do “the best” you can
gets in the way of just doing good.
In this case, I think a “good” response
got in the way of the best response.
But, another saying I like fits in this case;
Do the best you can until you know better.
Then when you know better, do better. – Maya Angelou
I am thankful for the stamina
and that I am here – albeit alone – to absorb the blows.
Next time, I hope I do better.