Tuesday, October 1, 2013
It started when my oldest, Wyatt, left one of his two homework folders at school for the umpteenth time this year, then confessed that his reading textbook was also "missing." This fact was confirmed not an hour later when I received an email from the teacher. Did I have the book at home? Uh...no. And yes...I was sure.
Then came that son's continued inability to remember to practice his typing each afternoon, even when I reminded him. Since school started, he'd gone from 17 word per minute back down to 13, all because he kept "forgetting."
But the straw that broke the camel's back was yet another pair of stinky socks left on the living room floor. These were the white tube socks with the emerald green writing on the toe, identical to the pair I'd found earlier that day in his bedroom...along with the other pair in the Egyptian bathroom...and the third pair on the washroom floor.
Socks, it seems, had a mind of their own and a deep desire to avoid the dark recesses of the clothes hamper so they could, instead, frolic in freedom around my house.
And in that moment of pure insanity when I would have gone screaming out the backdoor had I only been able to muster the energy, the daily activity chart was born. X's were bad. Check marks were good. Peer pressure from siblings was golden.
Yet, days later, here I was again, marking another "X" on Wyatt's chart. I sighed deep, knowing it wasn't that he intended to be disobedient. He is just my absentminded child, so much like his father in that regard.
Still, with a lost textbook, homework unable to be completed, and a chart full of X's, I felt like sewing a scarlet "F" for "failure" on my maternal chest. Add to that a twin sister who wanted to whine or lie about everything and a twin brother who kept being intentionally mean to his sister, and I closed my eyes to a vision of myself standing on the scaffold of shame like a modern-day Hester Prynne as other mothers averted their eyes and shook their heads at my bad mothering skills.
This mother was obviously doing everything wrong.
My scarlet failure blazed brighter at suppertime when, as usual, two out of three children were less than thrilled with what I had cooked. The evening conversation whirled around me in tones better suited for outside than the gathering table. The children and husband were happy, completely oblivious to the strain that had tugged at my temples all week and that even now threatened to spill over in tears.
Then, Emerson began reciting his Bible verse that sat in the center of our table. Not be outdone, Amelia did the same. Somewhere along the way, Wyatt spoke up, saying we needed to pray for his friend at school whose grandmother was in the hospital. He described how she had broken her arms when she had fallen. We could pray for her tonight, right?
My breath caught, remembering my friend telling me a similar tale about Wyatt just a few weeks prior. After her middle daughter had requested prayer for both my friend and a younger sister's "attitude," Wyatt had offered to pray, then apparently prayed heaven down in a mighty way, unconcerned about what others might think as he spoke aloud.
This boy so oblivious and absentminded at times showed a deep concern for others, a commitment to remembering their needs, and a willingness to call upon the Lord in prayer for them.
Maybe my pinning on that scarlet "F" was a bit premature. Perhaps I'd tuck it in my drawer for another day. This wasn't the progress I'd been looking for, but perhaps I'd just been looking in the wrong place.
There are no sudden miracles with raising children. Nothing is overnight. Everything is a process. Some moments are joyful. Some send me to my knees. Others send me to my bed to pull the covers over my head.
But even if I can't bring my children up to always be the brightest, the most responsible, or the least absentminded--if I can just raise them up to live for the Lord, to love Him with their whole heart, and to love others in return, I will have done my job.
at 11:30 PM