I know some moms set a timer for their children on time out. My sister-in-law sets the timer for the same amount of time for her son's age. I gotta confess, though. Timeouts and Aly have a relationship that follows the same sequence nearly every single time: first, she must express her heartbroken frustration for about 3-5 minutes. She will do this in varying forms of intensity. Sometimes it's loud, obnoxious yelling. Sometimes dinosaur tears stream down her face and snot pours from her nose. Occasionally she approaches it with a ladylike fussing. But inevitably, it takes her at least three minutes to accept that she's on timeout. I find that its the moments after her initial reaction that create lasting effect in her.
So I don't set a timer. I wait. I wait until she calms down and sits quietly. I wait until my heart is no longer frustrated with her. I wait until her little heart is connected to me again. I wait until she and I can respond peacefully with each other. And then I release her and kiss her and whisper gently to her. Sometimes I might plop her into that sequestering chair with enthusiastic frustration. But I always release her with gentleness.
Sometimes it might take a while. And I wish it was only two or three minutes. But sometimes it's fifteen. I hope God works through this with her and me. I often ask God with my brief mommy prayer to turn those unmeasured minutes into salve for her little free spirit.
I fret sometimes that discipline in this house takes so long. Sigh. But when her little foolish heart thinks that a flat-faced tantrum in the church parking lot is a proper response, Mommy needs to respond. In a more effective manner than a hot, embarrassed face. Sometimes that's timeout. Sometimes its a spanking.
Jesus, please turn my earnest purehearted attempts into the right rod of correction for this sweet little lady. Help me keep my tongue loving when my heart is angry. I sometimes feel at such a loss.
You know those subjects that are socially yucky? Well here's one...it's sincerely amazing how much one's sinuses can produce during an infection. This one came out of nowhere. One day I have a dry cough--the next its a full-blown event. I am on my second box of Kleenexes. I'm one of those who usually doesn't take anything for an illness--I prefer to let my body fight infection naturally when possible. Same with my kids--I usually don't deal out meds for a fever until we reach 103. Which isn't often.
But this time, I took four ibuprofen at the height of the sinus pain--Nick and I were both fighting headaches and the sinus pain was so severe that my teeth were aching. We found ourselves unable to parent--so I took some pills and a short nap and that helped. (I'm just thankful Aly didn't spit in my mouth while I slept. She was playing with Anderson and Meghan the other day, and when Anderson pretended to sleep, Aly spit in his mouth. So funny--and poor Anderson.)
I find that when I let my body heal, I am always so filled up with amazement and appreciation for the body God gave me. It is sincerely incredible how complex and well-made it is!
So my sinuses still hurt a little. But I'm healing. And as usual--I'm just so wide-eyed at how well made I am. Evolution is such a weird thing for an intelligent person to believe in.
Ricky Gervais is my favorite guest on Sesame Street.
And to close this very bizarre entry that took several days, the other day the thought crossed my mind like I want to get my nose pierced. And then, outta nowhere, a thought crossed my mind that stopped me dead in my tracks: am I too old to do that?
Too old? When did I reach the point in my life where that becomes a valid question? I'm turning 30 this year. That is hardly old. I think that thought process sneaks up on you while you're aging in the middle of the night, because you're mothering an infant and you've never been this tired in your whole life. And then you have another infant and someone would be honorably justified to stamp a "she gambled and she lost" stamp on my birth control decision.
It is your mind that ages. Your body regenerates for the most part--but your mind feels stretched and you are too strained to consider new adventures. You approach opportunity with casual ambivalence. You believe yourself to be in need of a vacation--forgetting that life ticks away while you wish for easier circumstances or better timing.
When I was a girl, I had a great aunt who was a perfect example to me. She was a delightful Mennonite woman named Elva, with her silver hair in the proper knot behind her proper prayer covering, and wearing a proper blue cape dress. Elva had a constant smile and was always so friendly and loving. Twenty years ago, at a family reunion, my sister Steph wore a pair of black platform sandals (the soles are super clunky and heavy, held on the foot by leather straps. They were stylish then--you can find them at Goodwill now.)
Steph had taken off her shoes to run and play, and Elva saw them out of the corner of her eye as she carried some food into the kitchen. A look crossed her face, and she slipped off her sensible adult support shoes. Gripping the wall for support, she maneuvered her properly-hosed feet into those ridiculous platforms. She took two shaky steps and then stood there precariously like a newborn fawn, with legs she couldn't trust.
And she laughed. And we laughed.
Elva completely abandoned how people would perceive her to chase this funny little curiosity in her mind. It didn't matter to her that some of my other aunts would probably think she was ridiculous. Elva has passed now, but in that willingness to abandon self preservation, she stamped herself affectionately in my mind forever as one of my favorite people on earth. I will tell my children of Aunt Elva.
I'm from a family that takes itself seriously. We are logical sensible people, salt of the earth. Common sense usually means we do few things without significant benefit or calculable value. We are trustworthy and responsible, and abhor appearing foolish.
This also means us sturdy types are the first to overplan, overthink and overpanic.
Jesus called us to faith like a child. I sometimes wonder if that feels so difficult to me because I am so determined to be taken seriously. My mind is old--adult. But the spirit within me--my soul--my heart must be vulnerable and childlike to achieve--or rather, to relax into--a childlike faith.
I so desire childlike faith. I am only twenty-nine, but I have already had enough of a worrisome tremulous lifestyle for a lifetime.
So today, when I put on this ruffled polka-dotted shirt and cropped leggings, I hesitated. It has a ruffle on the back that in my opinion ill-suits my derriere and looks rather girlish. I usually prefer no-nonsense lines. But I smiled, put on some earrings, and closed the closet. I'm not saying that poor fashion choices are my future; but something about wearing these ruffles is stretching my heart.
So perhaps I'll get my nose pierced. Maybe I'll finally get a tattoo. Maybe I'll actually pay money for a massage (I've never had one--it's just not a sensible way to spend $50.) Maybe I'll get some funky highlights or a pair of funky earrings. Maybe I'll turn down some design work I'm not inspired by. Perhaps I'll actually embrace some sexual adventures with my husband instead of being intimidated by them. Maybe I'll actually order a glass of wine instead of just being afraid that I won't like it and it will be a waste. Who knows? I'm not pursuing a license of stupidity--merely to enjoy my freedom to be purely authentic.
Maybe people will notice me--maybe I won't blend in. But are any of us designed to blend in? If we do, are we truly embracing the uniqueness of what God put within? As I do things that have always been within me, it will be in actuality a revelation of who I always have truly been inside. An outward manifestation of my inward authenticity. I'm not planning to have busty nymphs tattooed on my arms, or have gauges put in my ears. That's not me and I'll own that! But for several years I have wanted to do red hair--not the dark reddish-brown that I usually end up compromising to.
And it is possible that as I pursue authenticity, I'll do things that someday bring regret. I hope not. My true self still values careful consideration and general sense. However, I have drawn my virtual line in the blogosphere sand...I am not too old. What a crock! I am beautiful, free, transparent, independent yet sustained, impulsive yet sensible. There is no one like me and I am really falling in love with what God did when He made me.
As one who hates waste, the desire to blend in is fading away.
I am not my own to waste.
My failures, my mistakes, may they be relatable and endearing.
My regrets, may they be in the pursuit of laughter.
And me? May I be spent in the pursuit of you, and Jesus in you.