Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dishevled and Expectant, Oh My!

I've been in a slump lately.  Literally.  I notice that I am not holding myself upright.  My house is messy although I seem to spend all day cleaning it.  I am not getting myself to the gym although I'm now well enough to go.   My coupons aren't sorted and my email inbox is filling up.  I'm not keeping my eating disciplines. I'm avoiding studying; I'm watching TV when I'd normally be productive.  My life is just a little disheveled. 

You know where I'm going with this, right? It's not because we've all been sick.  It's not because of the (blessing) rain and we've all been cooped up.  It's because at some point, several days ago, I had what More To Life terms a "lifeshock."  It's when something - even something seemingly innocuous -- happens and my brain starts making up it's own version of the truth.  In my case lifeshocks often occur when I have a lot of expectations about how poeple or things "should be."   I did a little "research" (aka digging around in my brain) and found the lifeshock. 

On Valentine's Day (which we had been gearing up toward for weeks), just as I was making my first batch of heart shaped pancakes, Maggie threw up.  And she kept throwing up through four rooms, 2 sets of sheets, and 3 outfits.  She ran a fever.  She moaned.  She wept.  And I felt awful.  I was so upset that she could not have her Valentine's Day, that she couldn't wear her new outfit, that she and I would be at home while the rest did our annual Valentine's bowling.  I felt worse as, over the course of the day, I had to tell her 56 times that she absolutely could not have any of her Valentine candy.  She spent the day lying on the living room floor looking morose. 

Until she felt better.  Then she was awful.  She did anything she could think of to retaliate.  She tested me in every way and I failed.  Miserably.  I talked mean.  I withheld attention.  At one point I gave her the silent treatment.  I failed to notice that I was as disappointed as she was.  Bummer.

The real problem wasn't the lifeshock, though.  The difficulty was the 4 days I let it fester and compound.  That's when I started slouching; small surprise with that giant weight I was carrying!  Then I woke up this morning and slouched out to the living room and I could hear my dear friend Sue Oldham saying, "Got a cat on your back?" 

And that's when I woke up.  I woke up to my own disappointment about Valentine's Day, my own unmet expectations (oops!); woke up to Maggie's attachment disorder and her real need to test me; I woke up to that fact that though I sometimes fail, I am in fact doing the best I can and I too, am worthy of my forgiveness and a "do-over." Parenting isn't always this hard but sometimes it is.  I am not always so "in the dark" but this time I was. 

Since I am utterly incapable of going back in time, I did the only thing I could.  I sat up straight and I opened my eyes. I noticed my lifeshock, I did my work, and I made my choices. 

Waking up is freeing; it's as the saying goes, "And then you will know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."  Next time, I'll choose differently.  Or I won't and then I will undoubtedly get another opportunity to practice.  And that's what I call grace.   

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