Monday, April 21, 2014
Choosing Joy in the Midst of Chaos.
I could have been upset. It could have ruined the entire day.
Maggie had yet again proved that no baby gate can hold her when she broke down the five foot gate that blocks the door to her room and snuck into the master bedroom while Paul and Sadie and I were still downstairs cleaning up after Easter dinner. She'd found Patch's special doctor ordered allergy ointment, a mixture of crisco and vaseline, mixed with cortisone, and had smeared it everywhere (she loves that stuff, which is why I had hidden it in our room... a room she seldom is allowed into). By the time she was done not only was it covering one half of our room, but she had a couple inches of it smeared into her hair, just in time for today's OT meeting with her newest therapist.
Paul was doing the dishes and taking out the trash and had been talking about how glad he was to be getting out of the house so early with the first week of finals beginning in a few days and projects and papers still unfinished. I was vacuuming up the egg that Patch had crushed into the carpet in the playroom and sweeping up the spinach that Mae had shredded and thrown on the floor (just before splashing olive oil in my dress at dinner time with a mischievous smile). Sadie was headed upstairs to brush her teeth when she met her sister on the stairs and shrieked.
And thus the course of the evening was changed for the entire family. Paul and I dropped everything. He took a now shrieking, sobbing Mae into the bathroom to try to wash off as much of the ointment as he could (there are few things she hates like having her hair washed... and he's the only one who's strong enough to safely do it at this point), as I began the cleanup process.
By then it had been a long day. We'd been up for a long time. We'd missed receiving the Eucharist after a meltdown an hour into Mass. Everyone was tired (well almost everyone...). We're starting Sadie's first grade year today and I had a lot to do once everyone was tucked into bed.
At that moment, I could hear Paul talking softly to Maggie in the other room, his voice somehow carrying through the hallways of our old house over the sound of the running water, explaining that she was a little bunny who'd gotten into something she wasn't supposed to have and that meant that we had to get her cleaned up.
As I scrapped the ointment off the sheets and tried to organize the cleanup process, I thought more about my choice. I could get upset. I could let my knee jerk reaction to scrapping a think oily ointment off everything from the satin curtains to the beautiful delicate Amish quilt that we received as a gift from my parents when we got married, ruin the night as quickly as the ointment had ruined the curtains.
Or I could think of how amazing the little three year old getting her hair washed in the next room actually is. How she practically has super hero strength. How determined she is. How daring she is. How, when she sets her mind to something, she remains undeterred, despite our best attempts at diverting her. I found myself smiling and even laughing as I thought of all the ways she'd surprised us over the past few years.
I could be upset at the path of destruction that has run across the house these past couple years. Instead I'm choosing to be amazed. Things are just things. They can be replaced. More often I realize we didn't really need (fill in the blank with something that has been broken) anyways.
And that amazing happy little girl who's always getting into things? I can't imagine my house without her little chirping laughter filling every corner.
If I focused on what has been broken, on the messes that I find myself cleaning up day after day, on the meltdowns, life would be pretty dark... but if I remind myself that those are simply some of the various colors that are being used to make the beautiful, original painting that is Mae's life, than the lows no longer seem all that low.
Determined, strong, independent: these are traits that will serve her well as she works through whatever challenges she faces in the future and while it may mean a little extra clean up for me, it is absolutely and completely worth it. I may not be able to choose the challenges that we face as a family, I can certainly chose the attitude with which I will face them.