Ice Cream for Dinner
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
I don't particularly believe in "finding balance" in this life. I think balance is a myth that's mostly idealized in our minds as an un-obtainable reality we long for. BUT, I do believe in the ebb and flow of chaos!
If parenthood has taught me anything (and of course it has taught me many, many things) it's that my expectations in this life are forever blindsided by these little humans. Mostly it comes in incredibly rewarding ways - but, flu bugs and bad dreams muddle up the best laid plans in this business.
When the chaos ebbs, life is normal. There are the occasional storms of tantrums and troublemaking, but for the most part the routines sustain us. That is, we coast through the normal in preparation for the possible hurricane lurking in the distance.
My oldest daughter will start kindergarten next year. (That hurricane will come with it's own challenges, but it's still a ways off.) But, due to schedules and insurance and a whole mess of unimportant details, I decided to go ahead and get her "Kindergarten Shots" taken care of just a couple weeks ago.
I'm a two-birds-one-stone kinda gal, so I brought both my girls into the Pediatrician for their annual "well" check-ups. What I thought would be a weigh 'em, measure 'em, sort of experience turned into a full-fledged work up. I'm thankful, don't get me wrong. I'm SO grateful we live in a time and place where my kids can get their eyes and ears examined, blood pressure taken, etc. and it's part of a normal check-up and not some extraordinary gift that comes once in a lifetime like it is for too many children in other parts of this world. We take it for granted so often, and I recognize this is an amazing privilege to just "go to the doctor" when they are not even sick!
However, I did NOT prep my eldest for her shots...and the time had finally come. I wouldn't advise someone to necessarily not tell their kid about getting shots or not - my advice would first and foremost be "You know your kid best." Period.
So, knowing my kid, knowing that she would have worked her anxious, sensitive-little-self into a tizzy (and by tizzy I mean blood-curdling-scream-fest-panic-attack that would sound like I was skinning a jaguar alive...so, yeah...kind of dramatic) I chose to hold off the news until the very last minute where I could plead innocence and blame the doctors instead. (This may be a parenting cop-out, but at the end of the day I'm the one who she needs to trust most.) Whew.
So, I had laid awake all night before, worried that my precious child would find out I was a total TRAITOR as I gradually nudged her into the arms of the nurses and doctors who held her fate in a silver tray of FOUR shots they needed to inject into her little body. (Please do not send me letters about vaccinations, sorry and thank you.)
It could have gone worse...but I'm not sure how. It was over in probably a few seconds, but it felt like an entire decade went by as I held her and the extremely kind nurses held her down as she screamed in terror. Yes, I'm making this sound awful - cause it was awful - but, then it was over. It was over and I held her and assured her she was safe and okay and very, very brave.
And, as I explained to her in the car later, it was "a little bit of very bad for a whole lot of good". How many times do I need to learn this lesson in my own life? Again and again, apparently. There are hard decisions in this life that seem impossible in the moment, but you know it will add up to long-term joy. There's endless examples of foregoing temporary, instant gratification in exchange for greater goodness later.
The chaos flowed that day. It was one of those weird days where nothing seemed quite right, schedules were off, and nothing else mattered beyond my reach. We rented 3 redbox dvds, picked up Happy Meals and headed home emotionally exhausted.
But, as the eye of the storm came into sight and we restored our normality slowly, I took with me the reminder of how God provides us the bravery we need when the hurricanes come, when our days are blindsided with chaos, or when hard decisions don't always seem to make sense.
And then we ate ice cream for dinner.
Not all instant gratification is bad, you know. A little bit of good can go a long way at the end of a day covered in band-aids. The waves of chaos subsided that night as we recovered from our weird little day.
We went to bed with bellies full of dessert and hearts full of relief, and I thanked God for the crazy days that help me appreciate the normal days. The hard days He uses to shape and grow me. The difficult days that seem full of terror and confusion. The burdensome days that seem futile and never-ending. Those are the days that bring the greatest rewards long-term. The days that end in ice cream.