Thursday, December 07, 2006

Stability in Chaos

Yesterday morning I was in a bad mood. Perhaps I had brought it upon myself by whining to my husband. I was tired, I whined, of living in boxes. The children were tired of boxes and videos (Christmas special - after Christmas special - after Christmas special quickly ceases to feel like a treat) So, while I make slow progress packing in one room, the boys-- in their boredom-- make messes in the next. How could I be expected, I complained, to pack everything by myself, continue schooling, manage the children, and prepare for Christmas? It was not fair, and while I was complaining and pitying myself, I might as well generalize and say that it has always been this way. We always do things the hard way and I am always expected to hold it all together.

My husband was kind. He held me in his arms and told me he understood. He agreed that we've had it rough at times, but that I have always done well. He assured me that I would again, told me he wanted to help in any way he could, and encouraged me to ask for help from others. I saw my pity party for what it was. I knew I had to let go of my bitter and fruitless feelings. I needed to stop trying to control everything and just accept things as they were: difficult, but manageable. I prayed for the grace to accept my circumstances.

It was a good thing, too, that that grace came through because that evening--after a difficult day of packing-- our tile man showed up. This man was hired by our realtor to finish the half begun half bath project I had started some time ago. It is wonderful to have someone to do this for us, but he didn't come alone. He brought with him his seven year old son, Johnny (not his real name). Now Johnny's dad is a single parent and had no other place for Johnny to go when he came for this job. I understood, but I had not expected this.

While Johnny was sweet-- he showed concern for my smaller children while he played and even hugged me at one point when I tied his shoe--Johnny also caused some trouble. He was hyper active and got my own boys going. He was prone to jump on furniture, dig out toys that had already been packed and repetitively ask permission for things I didn't want any of the children to do. So, when he added speaking disrespectfully to me to this list, I drew the line. I spoke with authority and asked him to sit on the step and remain there until he could be more respectful. Thankfully, he obeyed. When I let him off the step later he looked up at me with sheepish eyes, apologized, and asked, "Are you a teacher?" I told him I was... in a manner of speaking. He ran off to play and continued to switch back and forth from very sweet to very trying.

Two and a half hours later, I realized that I had not gotten the packing done I needed to and the house was a mess. I had planned to go out and finish my Christmas shopping that evening, but didn't feel I could leave all the children plus Johnny with my husband. Graciously, he rose to the task. "Why don't you go, " he told me, "I can handle it." I snuck out of the house and saw that my van was blocked in and so I needed to take Jeremy's car. As I drove away, the last thing I saw through the window was my husband sitting on the couch with an open book and six boys on his lap!

I shopped until late, getting some great bargains and terrific finds, but when I returned to the car... I saw that I had left the lights on. It was Jeremy's car and the lights don't work the same way as my van. AUUgghh... I called road side service to assist me and didn't return home until after midnight. Jeremy and I spoke briefly before I fell asleep. He said Johnny didn't want to leave when it was time to go and that he had been very affectionate. We both agreed that Johnny was a sweet boy in a difficult position. It has to be hard on him living without a mother and following his father around on these jobs at night. I went to sleep feeling grateful that my children have a mother and a father who love one another and a stable home... if not a stable house. I saw clearly that, more than all the great finds I had just brought home, this was the greatest gift we could give them this Christmas and always.

...I awoke this morning with a twinge of a headache and Zachary standing by my bed, "Mama...Mama.." he was saying, "I made a mess with the Raisin Bran." Hu? Who? What year is this? ......Where are we?

I crawled downstairs and found that yes, indeed, he had made a mess with the Raisin Bran. As I swept the kitchen... the dining room...oh, and the living room, in and around the boxes, that headache went from twinge to throb. I went to get the aspirin and realized that it was in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom where the tile had been laid the night before. I couldn't reach it. I tried coffee instead. As I sipped my coffee and held my head, Zachary brought me more tidings of great joy, "Mama," he said, "There are trucks here and men coming to our house. The workers are here again Mama!" He was right. But this time they were alone. Johnny was in school this morning.


Cheryl said...

Prayers! Prayers! and more Prayers! Suzanne. Maybe some intense laughter is what's needed. I remember an intense move 8 years ago - selling and buying houses - 100 miles apart - packing - moving - ugh!! I was so stressed and on the constant verge of tears . While visiting with my mom and elderly grandmother, Grandma remarked to me that it looked like my children "were shrinking." I started laughing - intense laughter!!! I could feel the stress draining Grandma has sadly died since then, but every-so-often my mom and I think back about "my shrinking kids."

Kristen Laurence said...

I believe God grants more suffering to those He favors, and I'm often jealous of other people's hardships. (I know it sounds wierd!) But DO consider yourself "favored".

Suzanne Temple said...

Thank you, Kristen, and thank you Cheryl. You're right, it does help to laugh, Cheryl. I will try more of that. Truly, though, I am holding up Ok considering.

Jill said...

I would love to come be your teaching assistant/packing assistant/kid watcher for awhile. Truly, I would. I would even like to meet Johnny. :) But, that's probably not going to happen, so I will send prayers your way instead. You are one STRONG momma.

Rebecca said...

Prayers and hugs from me, too!

Suzanne Temple said...

Thanks jill, and thank you rebecca.

Margaret in Minnesota said...

What WAS it about yesterday? It's a good thing we've all got each other, huh? I'm sending lots of love and several prayers your way (but am keeping a few for myself!).

yesterthoughts said...


Once again, you have touched my heart with your writing. I had to wipe away a little tear for young Johnny.

You are blessed to have a loving, compassionate husband and so are your boys to have such an example of authentic matrimony from their parents.

May our Lord shower you and your family with graces this Advent as you pack up, homeschool and grow in holiness through it all. Count on my prayers for you.

Cay said...

(((HUGS))), Suzanne.
Moving has got to be the most stressful activity in the world.

The only time I found it joyful was as a college student as my fiancee and I got our home and wedding ceremony ready.

We've moved twice since then (with children in tow, just across town) and I always swear I'll never do it again.

Suzanne Temple said...

Thank you MinM!

Kristina, your kind comments have made my morning!

Cay, I love the parenthetic hugs! Very clever and very much appreciated!

Michelle said...

Your husband is wonderful.

I moved last spring during the school year. I highly recommend that you let go of it for a few weeks. It's hard to do that, but it will make things a bit less stressful.

Jamie said...

Oh, Suzanne, I feel so bad for you. You always have a wonderful way of looking at things though which is God's way of getting you through it! You and your husband were what Johnny needed last night, how wonderful for him to be a part of that sense of family. God Bless you!

Matilda said...

Touched by your comments once again. Sending good thoughts and wishes your way! Have to admit though that I love posts like these. It makes me feel so "normal" to know that I am not the only one who has these moments.

Sounds like our husbands are cut from the same cloth and that fluffy soft cloth is just the thing needed to dry the tears.

Anonymous said...

When you are at the end of your rope in finding things to keep the boys occupied while you pack, let them DECORATE THE MOVING BOXES on the sides where you don't have labels. I'll bet they'll love it, at least for a little bit.

God is with you. He doesn't send anything you can't handle, with His help.

Suzanne Temple said...

What a fun idea, anon! I'll keep that in mind.

Karen E. said...

Prayers for you --

moving + school + Christmas = Stressed Mommy. School can wait (esp. with such young kids) and Christmas ... well, moving at Christmas time helps you stay focused on what it's REALLY all about.

Hang in there! :-)