Six weeks into the life of this blog, I’m continuing to experiment with voice: how much or little do I put myself into what I write here? How many words do I use to convey an idea? How practical do I get, or, conversely, how flowery?
I’m very much interested to hear your thoughts on such things (comments or emails greatly welcome!).
I say all of this, though, now, because it feels a little bit like the universe is conspiring against anything other than me telling you exactly what I’m learning about trust as I learn it. So I’m going to try to honor that tonight and jump right into a story I’d rather not need to tell.
It has four parts:
Part 1: Prologue
I’ve been sick this week. Full-body aches, throbbing head and ears, sore throat, low fever. Nothing to keep me in bed all day, but enough to make me feel lousy.
My sleep has been really chopped up lately, too, with my own illness and kids having bad dreams and congestion and one deciding that 5am is a good time to be done with a night.
And the kids have been fighting constantly.
And I’ve had PMS.
Part 2: The Mud
Both my kids attend the same preschool – a play-based coop that encourages as much hands-on, tactile learning as little ones can handle in a morning (for us, a great thing).
Yesterday I arrived for pick-up to find my 5-year-old covered from head to toe in mud. He exuberantly showed me the mud-based contraptions that he and his buddy had been working on all day, and then proceeded to fiercely resist any suggestion that now was the time to go home. His buddy joined the resistance with a dirt clod thrown at my head.
On a normal day, pick-up involves wrangling the following things from school, down 1 or 2 blocks, to my car: 5-year-old, 3-year-old, 2 lunch boxes, two grocery sacks of clean or soiled clothing (one for each kid), muddy boots (if used), and various and sundry art and/or building and/or mixing plans.
On a normal day, this is a challenge for me (I laugh at the understatement of that). And I’ve learned that the challenge is made far greater if my 5-year-old has forgotten to eat his lunch.
Yesterday, with prologue pulsing through my veins, the need to get mud cleaned up enough to not destroy our car, and a dear boy who was enjoying what he was doing, had a friend who wanted to see that he continued doing it, and a case of plummeting blood sugars, it pushed me over the edge.
By the time the boy was in his car seat, scratching at his sister who promptly dumped his open container of fruit onto the sandy floor of our car – a move that ensured the boy wouldn’t get one ounce of the sugar I knew he needed in his system – I lost it.
I took my car keys and threw them hard at the passenger seat. I got out of the car, slammed my door as hard as I could, and picked up his fruit to the tune of something like, “I’m sick of you two fighting, and sick of you wasting your stupid food (yes, I said “stupid food”), and sick of [I can’t remember what all else. Much more was said. None of it pretty.]” I slammed his door as hard as I could, got the 3-year-old buckled in and slammed her door as hard as I could and steamed home, a fire-breathing dragon.
Part 3: The Pee
5-year-old wets his bed at 4:15am this morning. Something he only ever does when he’s anxious.
Part 4: The Park
So today we enjoyed a really nice time at a park. I’m still not 100% well, but enough to get out. It rained yesterday, so there was mud again, and there was a boot lost in it, and a little girl with muddy socks, and her muddy boots, and two scooters, and two helmets, and our day bag, and of course my 5 year old to wrangle back to the car by the time the day was through.
And all of that made it to the car but the boy. Who sat playing in the sand, surely testing whether mom could anti up with self control after so much processing about it the day before.
I sat in the car with my daughter – feverish, frustrated. I honked my horn a couple of times to get his attention. Didn’t get a glance.
So I ran to where he was, picked him up, told him how sick I felt and how frustrated and how much I wished he could come when I needed him to come. How running back for him and carrying him made me feel even sicker. He has a soft, soft heart, and felt bad, and asked me to put him down so at least that part of it wouldn’t add to things, and I put him down roughly. He said that hurt his arm. I hissed, “You hurt my whole body.”
I drove home accelerating to the speed limit after each stop by flooring it.
Both days, after cooling down, I had good conversations with Eli about all angles of these events. I know, though, that no matter what was said afterward, my anger and my harsh words hurt him. Threads between us were damaged. We will have a few days or more where he oscillates between trying to be extra helpful and “good”, and testing me more fiercely than his normal heart-centered self ever feels compelled to do. There might be more bed wetting. The sibling spats could flare.
And I know all of this from experience.
From one perspective, this would be an excellent moment to dig a nice shame pit and think comforting thoughts like: Wow, look what you’ve done. That may never heal. or Couldn’t you dig just a little deeper here, Kristin?
But here’s what I’m thinking instead: This love thing? And trust? I’m in. I’m so completely in. Which means that when I fall on my face, and lose my control, and do real and lasting damage – on any front, parenting and beyond – I’m committed to standing back up when I’m able. To asking for forgiveness. To owning my limitations. To listening to my son, and anyone else that I’ve hurt, tell me about how they feel, and what they need, and what they really don’t want any more of. I’m committed to sharing the same things with them when they inevitably hurt me.
There is a buoyancy to love and trust that gives me so much hope. A resurrection power. Constant feel-good emotions and trust-filled action, in my experience, aren’t part of their deal. But given enough cool-off time, and whatever other time a person needs, there they are, waiting in the wings. Ready to be tended again. And again. And again. And yes, yet again.
This says nothing of whether the people I’ve hurt or who’ve hurt me are ready to engage again. But, when I’m ready to engage it, my trust that it’s okay to be who and what I am is. And, too, my connection with a love that, without judgment or scolding, invites me to live into ever more Life (wholeness, connection, soft-and-unguarded-heartedness, self control…).
Love and trust cannot stay dead. Maybe they can’t ever die. Maybe they’re only ever hidden behind my ego, and once I can soothe her and calm her and catch a glimpse beyond, I see that love, and therefore every reason to trust, are really all there is.