Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Gift of Perspective

For some reason, Luke thinks the hall way outside his bedroom door is a closet. Each evening as he undresses, his cowboy belt and buckle are carefully placed by the door. The boots are set nearby. Some days, an additional belt buckle is placed close by, so there “are options” the next morning.

Megan chooses to use her closet, but not in the traditional way. Often times the closet rods are full of empty hangers as shirts, pants, skirts and cardigans cover the closet floor. She doesn’t always favor the closet floor, the bedroom floor is treated equally.

Joshua loves ropes. Usually at any given time a rope can be found anywhere from my kitchen table to a bathroom floor, anywhere but their assigned home on the lonely hooks in the garage.

Ellie loves playing school, and in order to play there is an apparent need for paper, scissors, tape and markers to grace any open firm surface. Bedside tables, office desks, book shelves, entry tables, patio tables are crowned almost daily with her ‘teaching supplies’.

And I have an eighteen month old who wanders in and out of pantries, closets, bedrooms and bathrooms on any given day. Anything from plungers to nail polish, from sippy cups to pocket knives, goldfish crackers to matchbox cars can be found far from their belonged place.

There are days I am exhausted from the gentle reminders to please clean up. Other days I am worn out from cleaning it up. And of course there are those days I am filled with remorse at the unkind tones I used to plead with another to clean it up.

Every couple of weeks, I spend some time with a dear friend, twenty five years my senior. Her six children are now grown and gone from home. During our time together, she regales me with stories of her dear grandchildren and new grandbabies. She speaks with pride of her children’s accomplishments. And there are those tender times when I see heartache and tears as she talks about some of her children making choices contrary to her desires. I see the heartache of a mother whose struggles, frustrations and trials did not end when her children left home.

Recently, while with this friend, another lady joined us. Two of her children are grown and left home, two shortly will. This dear lady shed tears as she spoke of her daughter who has chosen to leave college to move across the country to live with a man she hardly knows. My eyes filled with tears as I imagined this mother’s pain, knowing her daughter is making choices far different than what she ever hoped for her daughter.

I thought about my son who uses the hall as a closet. I thought about my daughter who has a skewed understanding of what a closet is. I thought about my son who leaves ropes in all the wrong places and my daughter who thinks any firm surface can double as a school desk. And I thought about my sweet baby who leaves misplaced objects along his path.

My eyes filled with tears as I looked at these two sweet mothers. Their eyes filled with tears too as we expressed love to each other. We were three mothers who love our children. One of them asked if I had any advice. Me? I told these much more seasoned mothers that I really couldn’t give any advice. My frustrations are misplaced clothing, and messy bedrooms and my heartaches not too much more serious than a result of a child’s tears after a bad day in the lunchroom or an easily correctible wrong choice. My sweet friend looked at me and said, “I know how tired you must be physically and emotionally. Being a mother is challenging, you spend your days cleaning up, and then you do it all again the next day. But what I wouldn’t give now to have those be my only frustrations as a mother.”

My dear sweet mother friends gave me a wonderful gift today.

They gave me perspective.
It was just what I needed.

And though there is a belt lying outside a bedroom door right now, and as I type this, I hear Ellie saying, “My name is Mrs Foster, please sit down.”

Today I am grateful. And though I am not naïve enough to think belts and papers and clothes will never raise my ire again, I will do my best to enjoy today. I will think about my sweet mother friends. I will think about their children. And I will think about mine.
And I will love today.

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