Sunday, June 3, 2012

Why I'm Not Actually a Failure

I'm standing at the kitchen sink scrubbing egg out of the bottom of the frying pan with the lid from a Juicy Juice bottle.  I'm crying.  This is normal.

I'm thinking about something Pastor Jurchen said to me the other evening.  "If you've got demons from the past, you've got to drive them around in the trunk for awhile, and then let them roll around on the floorboard.  And then, when you have that rollover experience, they're going to go flying all over.  You've got to let them."

I drive like an octogenarian, so this imagery was hard for me to follow at first, but standing here in front of the sink trying to scrape off this egg, I'm beginning to understand.

About thirty minutes before this, I had fried up a little ham, scrambled some egg and assembled a breakfast burrito with cheese for Nora.  She said, "I'm not eating that disgusting food."  And I, like most parents, said, "That's what's for dinner tonight."  The situation intensified as I informed her again that I wasn't going to be making a second supper.  Nora yelled.  And I yelled.  So I gave myself a time out.

Another thing Pastor Jurchen said:  "I don't get the feeling that you've done a lot of getting angry in your life.  That you don't yell at people that often."

This must be why I'm standing outside now with my eyes closed and my face turned into the sunset while holding the trash can that I just rinsed clean with the garden hose.  See, Nora dumped her orange Jello onto my dinner plate.

I have to hand it to her, it was a pretty effective move.  She wasn't eating her food, so I sat down to eat mine.  She grabbed some Jello from the fridge, opened it, and dumped it on top of my supper.

I honestly didn't know how to respond.  I stood up silently and dumped my dinner in the trash, missing the trash bag.  At a loss for words, I retreated to my bedroom for another time out secretly hoping there would be a sub sandwich and a parenting guide under my pillow.  No such luck.

After explaining to her that she can never pour Jello on dinner again, I end up making her a grilled cheese sandwich and when I turn to the sink, the words inside my head slip past the guard at my mouth, and I hear:  "I am such a failure."

All right.  Back up.  I understand at this point in the game that I'm not a failure.  I've failed a few times, sure, but that doesn't make me a failure, so why am I talking to myself like that?

Oh, right.  The demons are rolling around on the floorboard.

So, I start to name them.  You.  Yeah, I'm talking to you.  You're the one who said I should never get angry or stand my ground, which meant I lived with a whole boatload of bullhocky for more years than I needed to.  And you, you're the one who tells me I don't how to be a mom.  Well, you're full of it, too.  Remember those nights I didn't sleep while I held Nora in my arms making sure she was breathing?  That's right, buddy.  I would give my life for her, and that alone makes me an astounding mother.

Sure, I yelled.  Big deal.  People yell sometimes.

When I asked Nora if she could think of other ways to let me know that she's angry, she said, "Hmmm....I don't know if I can promise that, Mom.  I think I'm just going through a phase or something."

I love her honesty.  I love how well she knows herself.  I love that she gets angry enough to dump Jello on dinner in order to be heard.  Because that's the girl who will grow up to be a woman who knows herself well enough to speak the truth even if it means arguing.  That's the girl who will grow up to be a woman who has the courage to look at all that useless garbage in the trunk and say, "I'm not eating that disgusting stuff."

I also understand that THIS woman will only be making one dinner per evening, and it won't be scrambled eggs with Jello.

It's astounding to me how much learning I still have to do...


  1. You go girl! I love YOUR honesty!

    From the trenches:
    Yesterday Jack threw a fit in the 50-ft walk from my van to the house because he wanted to go play in the pile of rocks the dump truck poured at the end of the sidewalk. He would not walk, would not hold my hand- but I had bags of groceries and there was dangerous equipment everywhere so I could not leave him, either. In a catch 22, he won and threw himself on the ground, breaking my eggs, my sour cream, UGH. I stood him up, spanked him (which upset the girls AND me) and left him there screaming his head off on the sidewalk. Worst moment between us so far. I had all of those feelings you described. (after going in the back door and having my own temper tantrum over my now-ruined groceries!) But you know what? When I went to retrieve him and ask if he was ready to walk holding mommy's hand, he got up and followed me to the house. Both of us learned something yesterday- and I know God and Jack will forgive me for my anger, even if I never forgive myself. After years of not needing to spank my children, I lost it enough to tap one of them on the hiney. It didn't hurt, I am certain of that, but it still broke my heart and his, too. Hang in there, lady. Love you!

  2. I too have days when I just want to mutter to myself, "I am such a failure." I don't have the same kind of demons in my trunk that you do...but Satan has enough dirt on me to try really hard to convince me that I'm not good enough: not a good enough wife, homemaker, friend, sister, Christian.

    That's when I preach myself a sermon, like you did and like Pastor Jurchen did for you, reminding myself that I am a SAVED and FORGIVEN child of GOD and the Holy Spirit lives in my heart and he who is IN me is GREATER than he who is in the world. And I usually stress the words like that.

    I will say one more thing: you weren't wrong to yell at Nora. If I had had the guts to dump orange jello on my mother's dinner when I was five I don't want to think about what the consequences would have been. Most likely a spanking. I think discipline is definitely necessary for helps them realize what their boundaries are and that Mommy and Daddy are in charge, not they. Children need boundaries and I know they don't want to be the ones in charge. But you know that. :)

  3. Ok there's nothing better you could have posted today.

    The demons were having a hay-day at my house with me and my parents in a fight or whatever you call the "We are very dissapointed in you but nothing you say in this lecture, I mean conversation, will change our minds" kind of thing. My heart feels like an empty candy bar wrapper because I feel like a failure. I guess the demons had to roll around in the trunk and break a few things. With LOTS of hope and prayer, things will heal in time.

    As for Nora, I wish I had your guts girl.

    She will move mountains some day I tell you. Don't be too discouraged with these things, I may not be a parent but everyone needs their crazy moments now and then.

  4. so i've started this comment four different times... anything i have to say is what you already know, or is just reiteration of what has already been said.

    i love colossians 1:29: "to this end i labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." paul speaks from a different situation, obviously; but in the appropriate context of vocation, this verse never fails to encourage me. christ's energy. such powerful energy. i am so tired, but i don't need to be the source of energy. i can't be. christ always is. and he always is for ME. talk about grace. especially considering how much i don't deserve it. but failure simply isn't in his vocabulary. only grace. he carries me through. and makes music out of my mess.


    my dear friend, just as a closing note of encouragement: i may or may not tell people that i aspire to be you when i grow up. you inspire me. if you need a list of reasons why, well, that could take a while to write.

    i love you. and you and miss nora are in my prayers.