It’s one of those days.
They just won’t leave me alone.
Claire, stops by to pick up her large green parrot who I’ve been babysitting for three weeks and whose cage I frantically cleaned this morning. She chats and plays with her bird. Meanwhile, I’m thinking, take him home and let me get back to the numerous projects on my to-do list.
A charity calls, asking for a donation. “Don’t you want to be one of those people who help a dying child’s dream come true?” I mumble yes. “Great, I’ll connect you with Joanne who will go over your information.” I clutch the phone, rolling my eyes, feeling guilty that I am so impatient, when dying children are waiting for their dreams.
Interruptions keep snagging my progress. At 3:00 pm I glimpse hope. Another hour and my current project will be completed. The phone rings. I force cheerfulness. It’s my husband. He asks what’s going on? I want to tell him nothing now that I am standing in the middle of the room talking to him instead of working, but instead I manage, “Not much.”
“I’ll be home in ten minutes for a walk,” he says.
He asks about my day as he grabs his tennis shoes and white ankle socks.
I let my frustration for all the interruptions of the day ooze out and suck away my joy at him coming home early to walk on this rare winter day in January with a temperature of 60 degrees. He listens as we walk through the garage and out to the street. And then he starts. “Maybe you need to manage your time better. You could have told Claire to leave sooner and not answered the phone.”
I sputter. “Should I be rude to guests?”
“Stop it,” I say, hearing my complaining and not liking it but too caught up in the moment. It is like eating potato chips. I know I should stop taking another handful and another handful and I keep telling myself to put the bag down, but my hand reaches into the greasy bottom to grab a few more chips.
Truth was, I felt inconvenienced by him coming home and wanting my attention and I wanted to gripe and inconvenience him a little. Alert him to the fact that I was changing my schedule to accommodate him. Where was his gratefulness? I also wanted him to sympathize with me, not parcel out advice.
I take a few steps, simmering, my blood rising to almost a low boil. Then he points out a white growling bundle of fur and suddenly we are both laughing at the pixie dog named Rocky who thinks he’s on the same par as an attack Doberman. I relax and breathe a deep sigh, releasing my anger, breath-by-exhale.
He grabs my hand and we walk in silence. “Stop,” I repeat. And then I take a breath of humble pie, which scratches as it fills my throat and lungs, causing pain. “I’m sorry I was so crabby and in a bad mood.”
I inhale some extremely warm winter wind and it doesn’t hurt so much this time. “You are right. I don’t have to answer the phone and I should have told Claire to come at a different time or rushed her out the door quicker,” or I think, guiltily, enjoyed the interruption. I could have offered tea and we could have chatted. Instead, I rejected the gift and became resentful.
Why do I become so focused on achieving and crossing off items on my to-do list that I miss the little gifts of life? Is my worth so tied to accomplishing? To what I got done? And who says that these items must be done today or that I didn’t work hard enough? Certainly, not my husband. He always says, “Oh, Theresa, it will all be there tomorrow.” And sometimes that is what I am afraid of. I will have all of today’s stuff and tomorrow’s stuff—a double list of stuff to accomplish.
Two days later I am reading a book about thankfulness and the author mentions living in the present and finding happiness and blessings in the small things. The right now and here. My heart leaps. This time with regret. I think about Curtis coming home happy to spend time with me and all I could do was gripe and complain. Can’t I be thankful that he wants to come home early? Spend time with me? Can’t I get my selfish focus off myself long enough to see things through his eyes. Rejoice in his excitement about leaving work a little early to enjoy the weather and wife.
Perspective.That is what it is all about.
I need perspective to live in the moment.
If I had stepped in his shoes and behind his eyes for a moment, I may have reacted differently.
Isn’t that how I can share a sister’s burden and pain? By crawling behind her eyes and peering out at the world and circumstances through her contact lenses? And isn’t that how I can understand God? Be thankful in all things, rejoicing, I say rejoicing—I do this by viewing things through the lens of His word—his perspective?
I bow my head in shame at my selfishness and how often I want people to move behind my eyes and beneath my skin. Why do I insist on seeing things my way–through my selfish, distorted cataracts which keep me from seeing the world, God, and those I love from their perspective?
I ponder, reflect, repent, and peace settles in.
My son interrupts my reflective thoughts. He wants me to look at his Lego boat, tell him if I think he could add anything else. Could he have some more breakfast and …? My peace is shattered.
And then I look at my son.
I cup his soft chin, that will one day be hard with stubble and life’s responsibilities, and gaze into his eyes. His blue eyes so like his dad’s. I smile at him. His smile bursts forth, like a darting roadrunner. His mother’s lips and smile echo my smile.
“I love you so much,” I say.
And then I try to crawl into his 9-year-old skin and enjoy the moment.
This guest post first appeared at Christen Spratt’s blog, where she Offers Hope for Mom’s in the Trenches.