Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mud Puddle Experience

With the littles at home with Mom and Ryan happy at day camp, I threw my pink backpack over my shoulder and made my way to the student union building in search of a quiet hole.

I found the least populated place I could, plugged in my trusty MacBook, donned my headphones, and sank into my coffee and a project.  I've needed to hammer it out for a while, but you can guess how much thinking I can accomplish when all the kids are home all the time.

Sometimes the words come easily.  Sometimes it's just the framing of what I want to say that's hard, other times it's the mixing bowl of heart and what I know to be true that must be reconciled.  Other times, it's just hard to say it again.  To explain the pain on the page again, woven and balanced with the amazingness that is our life.

To remember that there are still some who don't know, some who don't care, and that there's little I can do but what's in front of me.  There is always more that I could do.  There is always something else I could be doing to help, to change, to make the world a better place... and that's just in my house.

So what IS in front of me?  I've always said... well, in recent years heard and said... that all you can do is what's in front of you.  Until now, I thought that was a pretty sound policy.

What's different about NOW, you ask?

There are, as Dad used to say, forty-eleven things I can be doing at once.  All of them could be ranked as the most important at the same time all the time.  I've done the talk with the husband where you lay out all you do on paper so he can see it, and I've cut something huge that I did enjoy but no longer could be given priority.  Amazingly, something else filled its place immediately.

I've talked it, prayed it, thought it, re-organized it, calendarized it, and sought to iron it out over and over again.  I've cut things, and I've certainly agonized over each decision and each moment spent doing this, that, and the other.  I've done all these things seemingly forever, and I'm down to two things.

I won't measure up, and nothing on the list can be retired.

I'd better get used to it.

Before you scroll to comments and swat my hand for being negative, hang on.

Too much blind optimism, in the life we're leading, can be dangerous.  There was a time when I could just jump headlong into something and bulldoze it through, being stubborn the whole way about not letting go. If I fell down, I just hurt myself.  As a parent, if I push too hard, there are at least four people I could be hurting.  We have to keep one foot in optimism and one foot securely grounded in reality, both bridged by hope found in God's sovereignty.

Sometimes, however, the realities swirl around us in a blinding storm of nagging inability and frustration.

There are always therapies we're not getting.

There are always techniques, therapies, diets, books, and the like that we could be studying.

There are always more cute little projects to be doing with the kids.

There are always more good things to be doing.

There are always people on blogs and in real life doing those things, looking like they're the super-perfect parents and advocating how wonderful they are and how crazy you are not to do them.

There are always those who will look at what we do, how we live, and hand down a quick judgement on how we should be spending our time.

There's always this one part of me that wants to defend who we are, the decisions we make, and why.


That last thing.  You know, the one about defending who we are, the decisions we make, and why?  There's the key.

If we know it's never all going to be DONE, if we know that something else is always coming down the pike, if there's never going to be an end to the hamster wheel of therapy, if things are going to pretty much stay this busy, what is the one thing that can change?  Well, I can't think of just ONE, but I can narrow it to two.  Okay, maybe three.

The way we view what we do.  

The amount of power we give others' opinions.

The amount of comparing we do with how others do things.

Once I was through had written all I could stand and the SUB began getting busy, I packed up and headed outside.  There was still a bit of time, so I published yesterday's post and decided I'd refill my coffee cup with water.  On the way to the fountain, I ran into the sweet lady who started the BARC and was working the camp.  Immediately recognizing me, she said, "Oh hi!  How are you?  He's outside playing in the water!"

As I do a lot when picking the kids up from an activity, I did my best to sneak around the corner and catch a peek of what he was doing.  He was playing in the water, all right.  I was too slow to get a shot of the first thing I saw, but this followed as I approached.

That's the dear lady who oversees all the organizing at the BARC.  She had told Ryan to go sit on the steps... but she meant the ones on the building, of course.  

But those steps had other people on them.  Bleh.  And these are steps, thank you.  I could tell immediately what he was thinking.

Soon as I was noticed by Ryan, she figured out that I was just fine with his being soaked, and he went straight back to what I first saw him doing.  

Yes, that is my son, face down in a giant muddy puddle, completely enthralled in the feel of the ground, the ripples in the water, and completely oblivious to the fact that he was the ONLY kid still wet and playing. 

As I laughed, smiled, listened, and grabbed these shots, I heard about his great day at camp, and how he just wanted to sit in the middle of the pool at the end of the slip and slide they were using.  I also heard of how he took turns... yes, I said TOOK TURNS... with a little help, of course. 

Again, folks... he's teaching me.  He doesn't care what others are seeing, saying, or what people might think.  He didn't defend his right to splash in the puddle in embarrassment that I saw him.  He splashed, played, and enjoyed, following (to his understanding, of course) the instructions given.  He doesn't agonize about pleasing anyone, to my knowledge.  

He knows that he is loved.  That he is okay.  

I know that I am loved by the One who created me.  I know that the only way I am okay is through that love, through the love who sent Christ to make me okay.   And yet I look around as we walk through the parking lot, Ryan refusing to hold my hand.  My heart pounds when he yells out in an inappropriate place.  I notice the people staring in disapproval while I lift him into the cart to make a trip to the store.  

While I do not envy Ryan's inability at this point to naturally understand social interaction and to self-regulate (not hit and scream when things become too much), I do wish I could just live, doing my best.  To respond when appropriate with truth rather than shrink back in fear.  To be able to mess up, apologize, and repent and truly let go of the disappointment I have in myself.  To accept help and even instruction when I need it without resentment or that same nagging disappointment. 

I don't see all that happening overnight, but I'm thankful to see it. 

Thanks be to God for Ryan, for puddles, and for a lesson on forgiveness and grace and mercy... again and again and again.  

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