When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith


No problem

I feel like I've written about this before.  Maybe I stole the idea from another blog.  Who knows?  Anyway, I feel the need to write about it again...two little words that can save a lot of heartache in a home: "No problem."

Today I was strolling the boys along in the double stroller after we'd stopped in an ice-cream shop.  We needed to get back to the car so I could get Caleb home for nap.  I allowed the boys to take their ice cream cups in the stroller.  In case you missed the significance of that last statement, please humor me while I repeat it italicizing the guilty party: I allowed the boys to take their ice cream cups in the stroller.

I know better.  My eldest is 8 for Pete's sake.  But we were in a bit of a hurry.  Not five minutes into our walk, I hear the dreaded, "Uh oh."  Then the tiny voice, "Um, Mommy, I dropped my ice-cream, and it's on my shirt...Is that okay?"

Jack was covered in strawberry ice cream.  Face, hands, shorts, shirt, and stroller seat.  Deep breath.  "No problem."  "Fanks, mom."

It kind of breaks my heart that he even asked the question, "Is that okay?"  It was an accident.  It wasn't his fault.  Of course, it's okay.  But Jack is a product of my ranting days.  The days when a cup of spilled milk meant a mommy meltdown.  "Will we ever have a meal without someone spilling their drink???"  Would you like a little cheese to go with that whine, drama-momma?

Here's the thing.  I know how overwhelming it can be to have multiple small children making endless messes.  I am not minimizing that difficulty.  What I am saying is that I tended to take accidents rather personally.  They felt personal.  I was the one who had to clean them up.  But yelling at the kids was not an effective way to prevent accidents.  It only made the kids walk on eggshells.  And sadly, they did that for years.

What I'm slowly starting to learn is that accidents happen.  Many are preventable.  Don't use your nice, breakable stuff.  Don't give kids chocolate milk on a white chair.  Don't let them wear anything light-colored without a bib, eat watermelon, and then cry about their ruined clothes.  Don't allow them to stay up too late.  Don't let them wear socks on the hardwood.  Don't put your kids in the stroller while they are eating ice cream [duh].

Moms are always told to stop beating themselves up.  I agree.  Give yourself some grace.  At the same time, a little self-reflection is not a bad thing.  If your kids are having lots of accidents and you are yelling a lot, think about what you can do to prevent these accidents.

Try as you might, you can't stop every accident.  What you can stop is the emotional damage caused by your dramatic reaction.  Deep breath.  Don't take it personally.  Repeat after me: "No problem."


Better Things

The other evening the kids and I had an adventure, or perhaps more accurately, a misadventure.  It was late when I piled them into the car.  Though we'd had a busy day, and Aaron was in Japan, I was in high spirits.

I had found it!  My juicer.  The one I'd used in Texas.  I knew the voltage wouldn't be right when we moved here, so I had given it away before we'd left the States.  And now I'd found it.  On Gumtree (like Craigslist).  For a great price!

As we drove to the pick-up point, I regaled the kids with stories of "Juicing Thursdays" we'd had in our home in Texas.  "Remember when Ms. Lana and Ms. Helene would come over, and we'd juice?  And we'd save some for you to try after school?  And sometimes you liked it and sometimes you hated it?"  I was a bit misty-eyed talking about my friends.  What fond memories!

This silly juicer had already been an emotional roller coaster.  First, I saw the listing [woohoo!].  Then, I contacted them to see if it was still available [anxiety with a hint of hopefulness].   Then came the text saying it had already been sold [intense disappointment].  Then, miraculously, another text saying they were mistaken; another item had been sold, but the juicer was available [elation!].  The owner even agreed to meet me in the car park so I wouldn't have to take all the kids out the car, ride the elevator, find the unit, pick up the juicer, etc. [gratitude] and could meet me that evening [joy].

So there we were, joyfully riding toward our juicer with promises of ice-cream when our mission was complete.  We arrived at the complex.  I called the number and informed the woman on the line we had come to pick up the juicer.  We entered the car park and waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  I tried to call her again.  No service.

*Sigh*  "Well, everybody out.  I guess we'll have to go up after all."  No worries.  We were going to get our happy juicer - the thing memories were made of, right?  We piled into the elevator and headed upstairs.

When we arrived, the door was open, and there was a woman sitting in a chair against a far wall.  Strange.  Whatever, I was just gonna get my juicer and go.  "Um, I'm here for the juicer."  "The juicer?"  "Yes..."  "Who told you a juicer was available?"  "The person in the email," I replied uncertainly.  Was I in an alternate universe?  Hadn't I just spoken to this person on the phone?  "What was their email address?" she demanded, looking suspiciously at me and the crew as I scrolled through the emails on my cell phone.  "Um, I think it's encrypted somehow to protect the sender."  "No!  The juicer was sold already."

Then she dialed her phone and began yelling at someone.  The kids were wide-eyed.  We started to back away.  "It's no problem.  I understand," I said, backing away.  She thrust her phone at me, "You talk to him!  You talk to him!"

An intensely apologetic man was on the phone repeatedly saying how sorry he was and how he didn't know.  "It's fine.  Really.  I understand."  I just wanted out of there!  I hurriedly handed her phone back, and as the kids and I ran, not walked, ran back to the elevator, we could hear the man was still getting an earful.

We got back into the car.  After the last child was buckled, I slipped into my own seat, and sat for a few moments with my hands resting on the wheel, tears slipping down my cheeks.

"What's wrong, mommy?!"  "I'm sorry you didn't get your juicer, Mommy."  "Are we still getting ice cream?"

"Nothing.  It's okay.  Yes, let's get the ice cream."

But I didn't want to leave it at that.  I didn't want to lie to the kids.

"Kids, you asked what was wrong.  I said 'nothing,' but that wasn't true.  Something is wrong.  It's not just the juicer..."

Maddie chimed in, "It's your friends, isn't it?  You miss your friends."  Wise little girl.

"Yes.  Yes, I do.  I miss my friends in Texas and in the States.  I miss our old house in Texas and the way everything worked.  I am disappointed about not getting that juicer, but I'm not mad.  I'm not even mad they said they had it, and they didn't.  Just a little sad."

"Well, I'm gonna punch person who took it."  Jack insisted.

"No, Jack.  It's okay.  God had a reason for us coming all the way here and it not being here.  Maybe now, Parker, I'll have a little more compassion for you when there's a toy you really wanted but didn't get."

"Yeah, and maybe God has a better juicer in mind for you," Parker chimed in.

"Maybe He does.  Or maybe He doesn't.  But whatever He does, we can trust He's got a perfect plan.  And you know what else?  We have a pretty great house here.  It's different from our old house, but it's pretty neat.  And friends!  We have lots of great friends here, too.  Don't we?"  Yeses all around.

"Alright, gang.  Let's go get some ice cream!"

There was a tremendous peace on our family that night.  Usually, when Aaron's out of town, nighttime sucks.  Hate to be crude, but it does.  Our routines get out of whack, the kids cry, it's messy.  But that night, as we prayed together and thanked God for our blessings, we were blanketed in peace.  It was beautiful.

By the way, God did have something better in mind.  A week later, an industrial [read: nicer] version of my juicer showed up on Gumtree for a great price.  We got it today.