The car smelled like McDonald's chicken nuggets and Walmart donut holes. Micaela cried in the back seat, having thrown her toy on the floor...again...and wanting it back. Adela rested her tired head against the window, her eyes glassy and feverish. I gripped the steering wheel until my knuckles were white.
If I had run a marathon or worked cattle all day, I wouldn't have been as tired as I was last Sunday after going to urgent care with the girls. The best place to go was an hour away. We spend three hours there, another hour waiting for our prescriptions, and then drove home again. It was miserable, but Adela, who had been sick all weekend, developed sores on the back of her throat. Feverish and in so much pain, I didn't want to make her wait until Monday. Besides, I needed to get Micaela checked out, too. She still won't tell me when she is feeling bad.
Honestly, while in the actual doctor's office, both the girls did great. It was the waiting that was so hard. I left the house completely unprepared to keep us entertained. We sang songs, played games, and kept our masks on. The minutes dragged on. I could have brought out my phone and let them watch a show or two, but knowing that Micaela would have a complete meltdown the moment I had to put the device away again, I kept it in my purse. I kept listening to the sound of footsteps, hoping our turn would come, but the waiting room had been busy and I knew it would take time.
The next morning, when I wrote about the experience in my journal, I got an idea. Why not stick a few simple items like a bag of cheap balloon, coloring books, and pipe cleaners into the diaper bag along with a list of activities we can do with the materials? A day like Sunday happens only once or twice a year, but that doesn't mean I can't be proactive and plan for it. I can also plan better self-care than donut holes...maybe.
We all go through things that are stressful and difficult. Usually, we have two options afterward: decide to be a victim to circumstances or take proactive action to learn from the experience while making a better plan for next time. Who knows, perhaps God allowed that day to wake me up to this need because He knows I'll be doing this again soon.
God's precious provision and care is evident daily in my life. Adela is already doing great and back in school. Micaela and I didn't get her bug which is a miracle in itself, and I am still learning and growing under God's gentle guidance and love.
Is there something you went through recently that didn't go as well as you wished? What proactive steps could you take to improve that experience next time. Can you make a plan?
It was the last few minutes before the girls' bedtime. Micaela had crossed over into the persona of an exhausted two-year old and adamantly refused to put pajamas on. Adela whined tiredly about not getting to finish setting up a Lego dinosaur zoo she was building. Anger and frustration blossomed into lies about my abilities as a mom and the personalities of my children.
I've been through this scene a hundred times. Usually I just plow through it and grit my teeth. I skip reading a book, rush through prayers and lullabies, and shut their door firmly behind me. However, the other night I tried something new. I'm going through a series right now about self-talk by Karen Stubbs and so I took a deep breath as Adela went to brush her teeth and Micaela went to retrieve a baby doll. "Lora," I asked myself, "how are you doing?" As if a trusted friend had asked me the question, I answered sincerely, "I'm really tired tonight." Just like that, my eyes opened to truth. I was so very tired. My head was full of fog and my body was weary. I did not have the energy to pretend cheerfulness but I wanted to be kind. The truth turned into prayer and I asked God to help me.
Feelings of peace and compassion rushed through my soul. The frustration and anger melted away as I acknowledged my true condition and my inability to achieve perfection.
The miracle followed. I returned to my wrestling match with Micaela and the pajamas, but now, calm and kind, I got her ready for bed without yelling and ended with many hugs. I got through three pages in our chapter book, said prayers with sincerity, and sang their lullabies with love. I closed their door, still weary, but intensely moved by how powerful it had been to give myself compassion and ask God to come along side me.
I think we all know what our red-flag moments are: those attitudes, thoughts, actions, and words that warn us that we have come to the end of ourselves. Dear Lord, I wish I would invite you in before I become too empty, but I am thankful You are always willing to come to me in my weakness.
Have you ever stopped and taken stock of your own red-flag moments?
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"...and God was already there with me."