Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More Lessons Learned

We went up to Maine this weekend to visit Dan's grandparents. I was a little apprehensive, wondering how Ethan would do. I ended up knowingly overpacking just to have as many familiar items with us as possible, and it basically worked. Yes, we still had some door slamming going on (which he likes to do to relieve stress), but things could have been MUCH worse.

On Saturday we celebrated Grampy's birthday at Cheryl's house with a ton of people. I honestly was having a good time but feeling a bit tired out, too. I COULD have just let Ethan run amuck, but I felt he needed a little direction. Was I right? Who knows. Maybe I should have just let him have a down day. As it was, I let him do his door and drawer thing a little bit, and then redirected him. He barely cried once, even though he'd had no nap and not enough sleep the night before. So I didn't feel I was pushing him too hard. I did feel I was maybe pushing myself too hard. We all need a break...and the thing is, if I turn the reins over to Dan, he will help out, but he's just not as used to doing exactly what Ethan needs, so he doesn't have as much success. Not that he's horrible working with him, it's just that I'm with Ethan day in and day out. So I end up being the one sticking near him a lot of time, while Dan's over relaxing and chatting with people.

I know this is not the best habit to get into. We're still finding our way in all of this. At one point after I'd been helping Ethan play a little bit with Anna and his cousins I looked over and saw Dan and everyone chatting, and Denise sitting with her feet getting rubbed by Mark and letting Haddie run around and get into everything. I went into the bathroom for a minute and thought about how I'd just love to let my toddler run wild without worrying so much what the repurcushions would be. Haddie was actually getting into stuff she shouldn't have but it wasn't really phasing Denise. I started to feel the icky taste in my mouth of bitterness. This has been a lifelong habit -- resentment -- and to be honest, most of the time I've not stopped it.

I knew I had to, though. I knew I had to make a choice. I've always had to make a choice, and so often I've made the wrong one. I literally had to tell myself, "I am not going to let these feelings bring me down. What other people are doing is not my business. I am going to CHOOSE to have a good attitude, no matter how hard it is. God is going to have to help me." It felt painful but good at the same time, kind of like exercise.

So I went out there and relaxed a little, but still kept my eye on Ethan, and let the feelings go. Not more than a half and hour later Anna came up to me out of the blue and said, "Momma, you're the greatest gift that anyone has ever given me." I almost started crying right there. And then Uncle Gary two minutes later said, "I've watched you all day with Ethan, and you are doing a fantastic job. Cheryl noticed the same thing. It must be so hard to be patient, but you are so good with him."

Driving back afterwards I kept thinking how evident it was that God is there for me when I make the right choice, the hard choice. Again and again I've seen it -- God gives us what we need to deal with any and every situation. And sometimes He provides those little extras, almost as if to let us know, I saw that. And I'm proud.

I know now that yes, there have been many times in life when sucky stuff happened and I was completely justified in letting myself feel hurt and angry. But there were many more times I chose to hold on to those feelings for too long...or even worse, to get upset about things that weren't so bad, to listen to lots of "it's not fairs" and pointless comparisons, and in the process, lost all sense of joy.

I'm not going to live in regret. That was then. I'm certainly not going to live life on Cloud 9 from this point forward, but again and again I'm being reminded that our quality of life really isn't so dependent on what actually happens, but rather on how we respond.

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