Thursday, May 19, 2011

Unprepared

The painters showed up last Monday morning, and I simply wasn't ready. I didn't know exactly what I needed to do ahead of time to prepare our home, but I clearly hadn't done it. Within minutes of their arrival, the men stacked every picture frame from our "art gallery" bathroom in a precarious pile on the living room carpet. They lugged pieces of furniture into tight groupings, and fairly special trinkets were thrown in cardboard boxes with fairly important paperwork (such as bills or school forms) that might not be discovered again for weeks. I frantically tried to stay a step ahead, emptying drawers and kitchen cabinets in a somewhat organized manner, which of course turned out to be not-so-organized. At one point I threw a load of baseball uniforms into the washer, knowing we'd need them the next day, and came home a few hours later to a taped-up washer and dryer, with the painter telling me in no uncertain terms to not step foot in the laundry room for twenty-hour hours.
Our "pantry" -  made it easy to pack lunches


I don't like being caught unprepared. Who does, really? But even if I know things are going to be a little chaotic, I'd rather be prepared for the chaos. 
And one area in particular I don't like feeling unprepared, or behind, is in parenting. When my children were toddlers, each new development stage went so much more smoothly if I was just a little prepared.
And if I wasn't prepared, and hadn't anticipated their new stage, it maybe didn't go so smoothly.
There's nothing like standing in the check-out line at Target, minding your own business, when your fussy two-year-old throws a glass baby food jar out of the cart. And since you're in line to pay, you're pinned between two shoppers and under the cashier's watchful eye. And the lady before and behind, along with the cashier, continues to watch as the second and third jar are thrown out. Crash. Nothing like it. Especially when you are unprepared and don't know WHAT TO DO with that?! (What in the world do you do with that?! And - why in the world did they make baby food jars out of glass?!)
That's why I loved BabyWise and To Train Up a Child in those early years - both resources are arguably controversial, but they were helpful in our home.
Babywise familiarized me with the routine of infancy - gave me a pattern for the babies: feed, awake, sleep. Repeat. Yes, each child was different, and yes, some fell into routine more easily than others, but it was fantastic to have that resource of knowing what to expect.
And then To Train up a Child - I hardly even refer it to new moms because the writing is dogmatic and can be condescending, and like with many books, there's plenty I don't particularly agree with. But it taught me to anticipate the new stages of my children, to be proactive rather than reactive. To TRAIN rather than just react with discipline. Lots of good stuff in both those books, and then there's a flurry of others that became instrumental as my children got a bit older.
But this last month especially I've again felt that unwelcome sensation of my oldest child entering a new season, a new stage, with me feeling totally, completely, and utterly unprepared. I know I've mentioned before that he's entering adolesence, and that things are shifting, but now it's right before my eyes - that blond, curly-haired toddler-turned-young boy-turned-tween is becoming a man. He is officially taller than me, just in the last month. And as I've seen the signs of this transition, I don't know how in the world to parent him. One morning last week I had about twenty minutes between appointments, and instead of knocking out a few must-dos at home, I feverishly skimmed Dobson's Preparing for Adolesence." Whew. And, for the record, it was dead-on. Made sense of a couple of stupid choices my son made over the past few weeks, and encouraged me that much of what we're experiencing is normal. Thank you, James Dobson, and Joe White, and Dennis Rainey, and all those writers who take the time to PREPARE us moms for the road ahead. And then for those personal friends who have walked this road a few steps ahead, I'm hanging on for dear life.

A sweet friend came by last week and dropped off this gift. She knew how hard the past few weeks had been for me, how down I'd felt. Her gift was a reminder of continually pouring myself out - pouring ourselves out - loving our children well, and watching for the Lord's work in them. It holds slips of paper filled with my friend's kind words, as well as God's True Words about my boy. And I've dropped in a few more Scriptures of my own.

A couple of my favorites:
- The purposes of a (child's) heart are deep waters, but a (mom) of understanding draws them out. Proverbs 20:5
- He has made everything beautiful in his time. Ecclesiastes 3:11
- Then a girlfriend's original "verse" - "Survive eighth grade and summer will come."

At I write this, my heart is light and grateful, and I'm really enjoying hanging out with my son. I'm so stinking crazy about him, it makes the times when we don't see eye to eye even harder. But I don't want to forget the hard moments, the sad moments, the feelings of inadequacy that keep me so dependent on Jesus, because I am reminded that despite my roller-coaster emotions, the Lord knows my children better than I do.
And HE is never unprepared.
Growing up

One of my fav pics of us with Bran - moments after a performance last summer - pride jumping through my smile - this kid has captured my heart.