Saturday, April 20, 2013

Where There's Smoke

When hanging out in mommy circles, as I get to do every now and again, the potty training thing often finds a way into the conversation.  There's almost always someone who is having an issue.  Oh boy, do I ever know that frustration.  While I never want to make human suffering out to be something we should compare and try to one-up each other on, sometimes the mere sharing of the truth can make it sound that way.  How?  Here you go.

After my daughter was born, we had three in some stage of diaper.  Ryan was five, Richie was 20 months, and Maelynn was, well, a newborn.  

There.  I said it.  I know that this isn't the worst case scenario in human history.  Depending on your perspective, it's not the easiest thing either.  It's like my high school band director taught me.

"There will always be someone who plays better than you, Crystal."  

It's still true.  There's always someone smarter, with a cleaner house, with a better blog, better behaved kids, and who makes more money than you do.  Who picks out nicer outfits, brings a better dessert to the potluck, knows more about a certain subject than you do.

Over the years, and especially through tougher times, I've learned that there is a flipside to that wisdom.  There are folks who have it worse than you do.  There are people who can tell you stories that would curl your hair and make you thankful for what you have.

But here's the thing... that only works for a little while.

We have three beautiful children.  Each child you have will be, at some point, in need of some kind of potty training.  If not, there is something you have to do to take care of this part of life.  For a little over a year now, I've been grateful to not have much of a potty issue with our oldest.  In the last few weeks, when the topic is raised, I'm sorry to say that I've not had much to say.  I used to say that Ryan is completely potty trained.  No mega-disasters anymore, thank the Lord.

Thank the Lord.

Thank him indeed for that time.

For now, it is over.

As someone who deals with this, I can say two things.  One, that I do hope it doesn't happen at your house.  Two, that I know so many other people have it worse.  I know that I should be grateful that he only smears what is on his hand if he happens to get it on his hand on the wall to get it off, not to make art.  I know we should be grateful that we're not buying diapers for him, and we truly are.

But when you're getting your son out of the van to go in somewhere after school and that smell stings your nose, it doesn't help.

When you're telling your nearly 8-year-old that no, he cannot have a pull-up, no matter how sweetly he asks, it doesn't matter that someone has it worse.

What is hard is just hard.  There is no frustration-o-meter that gives us the right to tell anyone else how they should feel, react, or be.  I am grateful that it's not worse.  But being grateful that it's not worse does not mean I won't wish it was better.  And being sad and frustrated when it's hard does not make me a bad or ungrateful mom.

I had a great time getting together with some ladies last weekend who are mostly moms, mostly with kids younger than mine.  The topic came up.  I was honest, saying that at one point we had three in diapers, now we're down to one, and I wish I could say that it was all smooth-sailing with our oldest.  The truth is, lately it hasn't been.  I even said, out loud... kinda before I could stop myself, "I can't lie.  That's just how it is right now."

Guess what I was met with?

It's okay.  Truth is good.  A smokescreen isn't.

Whatever is hard, I hope you have someone who will hear the truth.  Who will hear the truth and know you don't want anyone to feel sorry for you.  Someone who will know that sometimes you just have to say it out loud.

Sometimes just saying it out loud helps.  Even if people around you just nod.

The comfort of being able to admit it... the safety of those who, though their problems are completely different than yours, are secure enough to listen without having to fix it... is the safety we all need.  Neurodiverse, neurotypical, regardless of other differences, we all need people who will love us by hearing.  Because when it comes down to it, no one can fix it.  Maybe we don't even understand it, whatever "it" is.

To sit with those who know the one who does, and who are not shocked or shaken by your issues is at times the most comforting reminder that God isn't shocked or shaken by our problems.  Even the ones we can't bring ourselves to voice.

Thanks be to God for truth, and for the hands and feet that allow us to be comfortable enough to drop the smoke screen, for they bring comfort.  

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