Friday, July 1, 2011

Half-Year Assesment Day

"Why is my toothbrush outside on the porch?"  I asked no-one in particular, as I was wrapping up the extension cord after mowing the lawn.

Angry feelings simmered, percolating and bubbling up inside my chest until I sighed and decided to "let it go".

It's Canada Day... a time when I should be joyously celebrating our fantastic country, but in reality, it has me thinking "Oh my... the year is half-over!"  I'm left in a melancholy, introspective mood this afternoon as children nap in hopes of staying up late to watch the fireworks tonight.

How is it that I've reached the middle of the year, and I feel like I'm still penning my resolutions, working on my expectations and planning my changes for the future as if it's New Year's Day?

How does one measure change when that which is desired and longed for can be described primarily as internal transformation, making it difficult to quantify?

There are a great many things which I hope to become, but in the same way a doctor doesn't just write one exam and is then granted his license to practice, the process of becoming more gracious, loving, and sensitive is multi-faceted and proceeds little by little, inch by inch.  Minute adjustments are being performed in my heart and slowly filter out into my actions.

Unfortunately, we humans can only measure what we can see and experience.  I am left to continually assess my behavior, in hopes of seeing progress.  Take for example today: After running around with my children and hearing them complain and whine and fight for what felt like the millionth time, I loaded everyone up into the van, and quietly sat myself in the drivers seat, staring blindly though the windshield.  After a few more minutes of scrapping among siblings, the kids suddenly noticed that Mommy was acting weird and asked what was going on.

"I'm tired of the fighting." I said plainly, with no anger or accusation in my voice.

"Oh" said one of my kids, and they continued with their chatter and whining at each other for another couple minutes.

I gave no indication of starting the van or leaving our parking space, and for a moment I considered picking up a newspaper from the floor beside me and reading it, but I thought my statement would be louder and clearer to the kids if I remained silent and motionless.  Inside my head, a calming, quiet feeling overrode the fact that I was engaged in a "stand-off" with my kids.  I didn't need to shout, lecture, spank, threaten or bribe.  My kids (especially the oldest ones) know how it works.  They've been told multiple times what is required when they've been fighting and misbehaving.

Finally a child clued in and I heard this melodramatic, half sighed - half exclaimed "I'm sorry!"

Another child chimed in with their apology and, finally sensing that an adjustment had been made in the atmosphere (at least for the time being), I turned the key in the ignition and drove away from our parking spot.

If I wanted to assess my parenting, and my overall attitude towards my children, then this situation gives me a great starting point.  My kids didn't require rudeness, sarcastic and annoyed comments or frustrated yelling to cause them to resolve the issues at hand.  For once, I was a "good mom" who kept her cool, trusting in the power of my influence, and the fact that my children have rooted within them the tools necessary to resolve conflict.

Maybe I really am changing.  I see a little more grace in my behavior.  I'm a little less angry and frustrated when the people around me do annoying things, invade my space and trample my "rights".  I can wait quietly for the kids to work things out and I can buy another toothbrush.  Adversely, I can't take back harsh words, and if provoked, I may have to live with the regret of angry actions.  Little by little though, the sharp corners are being polished away.

There is an interesting scene in the movie "Date Night" where Tina Fey, playing the part of the female lead "Claire",  is talking about her feelings as a mom and wife. Her husband Phil (played by Steve Carell), asks her if she has ever thought about cheating on him. Surprisingly (for a Hollywood movie) they portray a "decent couple" and Claire is quick to say "No", but that instead of cheating, she sometimes fantasizes about being alone.  She goes on to say:

I don’t know. Just, there are times when I’ve just thought about, on my worst day, just, you know, leaving our house and going some place. Like checking into a hotel and just being in a quiet room by myself. Just sitting in a quiet air-conditioned room, sitting down, eating my lunch with no one touching me, drinking a Diet Sprite, by myself.

Sadly, I can relate.  I've had theses moments in time where I think of how easy it would be to just disappear - just walk away and hide for a few hours, a few days; without any explanation.  This is where internal change is tricky... it seems to be instigated and expedited by interaction with others.

With all of the "issues" I see within myself, and all of the change I wish to embark upon, most will be worked out primarily by living out my role as wife and mother, and as a human being who interacts with other imperfect people.

So I'm left to conclude one thing and one thing alone.  I'm a work in progress.  I can assess my half-year status, and try to pat myself on the back based upon my success thus far in my resolutions - but... I think we'll just leave it with the idea that at least there appears to be forward movement.  I haven't arrived by any means, but I've had a few successes (amid numerous blunders).

Just for that, I'll give myself a gold star!

1 comment:

mzdjo said...

Oh how I have been there. I've thought of going somewhere all alone in a cabin where no one could find me........just for a while, "to regain some composure" & "be alone with God" I thought. Life goes on and we go on with it and God goes with us, chipping away at our personality to become more and more like Him.
Being a Mom, I can say you get a huge gold star! Your job is important and you are doing a terrific job, now go get a new toothbrush!