After many days of my girls coming home after school barking at each other and having screaming matches from different rooms of the house, I decided that I would have something fun planned for us to do together in hopes that it would keep their mind off of this terrible phase of sibling rivalry. **I have heard this is completely normal for siblings who are close in age but it’s uncharted territory for me…if you have suggestions I gladly welcome them!!**
I had great expectations of seeing my girls faces lit up with joy and hearing sounds of laughter instead of the constant quarreling that has become the norm in our home. My fantasy was playing out in my mind as I created a nature scavenger hunt for the three of us to do together. My girls love exploring and being outside so I thought this would be a home run. I had visions of them skipping while holding hands in pursuit of the next item on the list. I was really proud of myself for having this perfect mothering “light-bulb” moment. (Insert snickering here.)
That afternoon, my girls got home and whined about what snacks we didn’t have as they fought in front of the pantry. I sat them down after their snack and proudly told them that I had a surprise. I handed them a brown paper sack and we headed out the door with the list. They were excited but it wasn’t met with the enthusiasm I had imagined.
We hadn’t been outside even a minute when my older daughter had a major meltdown because what she considered an orange leaf was not at all what her sister considered an orange leaf. A terrible argument ensued over wether or not the color burnt orange was really orange. I almost lost it. I intervened and said they could pick out whatever each of them wanted. Five minutes later, I had to keep another fight from getting out of hand. The fighting continued during most of our walk. This definitely wasn’t what I had envisioned for our afternoon…in fact, it was exactly the opposite.
After every item was found as well as some that I made up that weren’t on the list, I told the girls that it was time to head home and make dinner. My little one flipped out and totally lost her mind. Apparently, she didn’t plan on stopping the game – ever – and nothing would change her mind. (Did I mention my girls are very strong-willed…and stubborn?) It took thirty minutes to get my child to come inside the house, complete with her screaming at me and throwing herself on the ground. If I wasn’t sure before, now I know all of our neighbors will keep a safe distance from us.
I was frazzled and frustrated. I couldn’t believe this “awesome” plan backfired on me. I was expecting joy and peace, laughter and love and my girls running into my arms, thanking me with hugs and kisses for being the best mommy ever. I felt defeated by this whole parenting thing. My expectation of having a perfect afternoon with no fighting was just that…an expectation and it got the best of me. Life is not perfect. Our kids aren’t perfect. I am not a perfect mother. There is no such thing this side of heaven. But even in the chaos of that day there were still a few moments that were beautiful but in the stress of it all I didn’t really pay attention. I was too focused on the fighting.
Thinking about that day in retrospect, I see a picture of life. We have great expectations. We have plans and lofty dreams where everything is all mapped out ahead of us. We expect people to fill the void in our heart and we assume they won’t hurt us but again and again we are let down and dismantled because, *gasp* we are all imperfect. In those moments we can miss the beauty that God wants us to see. Things may not turn out how we expect, but He is still there giving us glimpses of heaven and calling us to let go of our own plans and just do life with Him and cling to Him…even in the chaos, even in the mess and in spite of imperfect people.
That night as I was tucking my girls into bed, my oldest one hugged me and whispered her love for me in my ear. She thanked me for doing the scavenger hunt and talked about all of the “treasures” she found. She remembered only the good things from that afternoon. She was choosing to see the beauty in the midst of the mess of that day. I want to do the same.
Thank you, Lord for loving me…in spite of myself. Even in my problems and when I am consumed with my “junk.” Help me not miss the beauty you give when I’m so busy focusing on my earthly messes. I pray that my plans won’t interfere with what you want to do in me and through me.