I have corralled my screaming child in the church bathroom. We are finishing up a weekend of family camp. Not only is camp done, but so am I. And then some.
Littlest One and I are at the sink—she is screaming and I am cleansing. A purification ritual of sorts. The immediate purpose of our visit to the restroom is to clean sticky little hands and feet. The greater purpose is for me to stall for time, cleaning feet here rather than trying to round up the whole clan and head for home, where the mood will be even more dismal.
I ask my child where her shoes are. Of course, she does not know. She screams another ear-piercing trill that echoes thunder through my head.
I try to figure out what could possibly be so wrong that she needs to lose her right lung and both of my ears for it. She spits out her answer, the rage evident in every word. She is upset because…wait for it…she wants a “balloon tree.”
A “balloon tree”? Like, a bunch of balloons on a stick? I think an extra-strength Tylenol is in my not-so-distant future.
I scrub the brown bottoms of her little feet while I try to talk some reason into her. To no avail. Thankfully, my friend comes to the rescue with the diversion of a funny story, which is rewarded with one small smile and, in due time, the missing shoes. The lost are found, thankfully. But there is still the minor issue of the “balloon tree”.
I leave the bathroom, with screaming child still in tow, and I meet up with a second friend. She is talking to another, but as soon as I approach, she stops chatting and turns to me. And this is what she says:
“These times are precious. Someday you will look back on this, and you will remember that this was a precious moment.”
I am still inwardly fuming from the exchange in the bathroom, the struggle and the meltdown. I am in no mood or state of mind to concur that yes, indeed, this is pretty precious. Exasperating? Yes. Infuriating? Sure. Precious? I think not.
But I cannot help but consider that these sentiments are given to me in a gesture of goodwill. It was meant for good, and that is how I will take it. But I will agree to disagree.
As the afternoon rolls on, and the predicted unraveling of emotions occurs, I am reminded again of her warning to me. To consider even this to be precious.
Even this? This undoing of my mind as I listen to four tired kids in the backseat of our van arguing with one another?
Even this? The teasing of one at the expense of another? That too? The whining? The crying? The boredom? The general malaise?
But yes, even this. For there must be some good found in even the worst of moments. After all, it can be the best of times while also being the worst of times. And I am determined not to let it unravel me any further.
What is precious? That which is rare and lovely and sought after. I do not see these frequent blow-ups as anything close to rare. Nor is a meltdown even half-ways lovely. And I am certainly not seeking ardently for an afternoon spent in misery. But precious can also mean fleeting. And this is true. These moments of childhood, these rites of passage, are momentary. They are fleeting, and in and of themselves, they are strangely precious in their own little ways.
I hold Littlest One close tonight, drawing her into a mother’s breast, snuggled under arms of love. Arms that cradle and hold, soothe and protect. She leans into me as I read a bedtime story. And I know the wild preciousness of it all.
QUESTION: What are the moments of motherhood that unravel you? Can you see them through the lens of “precious”?
CHALLENGE: Look for what is precious in that which is hard or frustrating this week.
You know sometimes I think it’s okay to just say it’s hard! 99% of the time I cannot say that my kids tantrums and whining and fighting is precious. Most of the time I’m just glad when they’re over and my kids survived 😉
Priscilla McConnell says
So true. This post reminded me of the days of colic. I can remember rocking my little baby boy in my sling wishing, waiting and wanting the crying to be done… but it was just the beginning of several more hours of wailing. I remember feeling anxious and just wanting the crying to stop. Now, years later, I look back on it so differently. I see that time as a season of giving more than I had. A season I lived more selflessly than ever before. A time when I sacrificed my life every single night. I would never have believed that one day I would look back on that time with a smile… but here I am smiling. The hard times are hard, and we want what we want, for good reason. If we could somehow stretch our imaginations to a decade down the road and imagine looking back on this screaming moment- maybe we’d be kinder. Maybe we’d have more patience. Maybe, just maybe we’d see past the noise and chaos and see these little people we love so much as ‘precious’- even at their ugliest. I’m convinced we would. Thanks for the important insight you shared.