We had two meltdowns this morning—before 7:30! I was getting PJ out of bed when I heard Jake wailing from directly below in the kitchen.
NOTE: The boys’ room is a converted attic above the kitchen. It has no heat source, so whoever converted it simply cut a hole in the floor and stuck vent covers on the top and bottom of the hole so warm air from the kitchen can rise through the floor. It works well, especially when I need one of the boys to come downstairs or I want to fuss at them without climbing the stairs. When they are wrestling or having a jam session, it’s not so helpful.
So now you understand that when I knelt down by the vent, I was able to yell directly into the kitchen. “Jake, what are you crying about? Is everything ok?”
“I canneatsheerios cause thereall gone!”
Not a clue.
More of the same.
“Jake, come under the vent, stop crying,” (he obviously wasn’t hurt) “and tell me what is wrong.”
Finally I deciphered. “The honey-nut Cheerios” (okay, really “honey nut scooters” or some kind of off brand) “are all gone.”
This is serious in Jake’s world.
I did what I always tend toward in these situations.
I lectured. I did go downstairs first, put my hands on Jake’s skinny little shoulders, and kneel in front of him. Then I laid out the spiel: There are children whose mothers cannot feed them breakfast today. I have met some of them. That is heartbreaking. There are children who are only getting one meal today—or none at all. Do you really think that having to eat some off brand of Corn Chex rather than your beloved Honey Nut whatevers is a big deal?
He shook his head no, and I sent him off to my office to talk to God about it. When he was ready to eat Corn Squares (I just looked at the box for the right name) with a grateful spirit, he could come back.
It didn’t take too long.
Next was Maddie’s meltdown. Clothes. It’s always clothes with Maddie, has been since she was barely walking. “They’re too tight.” “They pull on me here.” (She points to her bottom.) “You HAVE to stretch them out.” The girl would prefer to wear footy pajamas all day in the winter (who wouldn’t?) and a tent dress in the summer. She didn’t wear socks for two whole years (including Chicago winters) because she didn’t like the way the seam rubbed along the top of her toes.
This morning the jeans that felt just fine yesterday no longer fit. “Seriously, Maddie? You did NOT grow a size bigger during the night.” (I tell myself all the time that talking logic with a seven-year-old is about like getting Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee to agree, but I keep doing it anyway.)
She got another variation of the same message I delivered to Jake.
And, as always, God spoke it to me as well. “Are you grateful for this morning? Are you glad for the opportunity to feed your children, to share this part of the day with them? Are you rejoicing that this is a brand new day, planned and designed by Me—and you get to be involved in it? Are you thankful that I have given your entire family health today? Aren’t you privileged to have a job that you love? Have you remembered today that, no matter how stressful your life seems to be, your standard of living is above 98% of the world’s population? Have you reminded yourself that there are infertile women—or women who have lost children—who would LOVE to be in your situation?”
Am I thankful? In everything?
I’m convinced that a spirit of gratitude primes my heart to accept the bigness of God, opens my eyes to see His goodness, and settles my spirit to trust in Him no matter the circumstances I find myself in.
I’m convinced that it’s really, really important.
But I allow discontent to fester. I pretend it’s something other than it really is. (“I’m just venting.” “You wouldn’t believe how frustrating today was!“ “I think the kids said, ‘Mom!’ about a million times today.”)
Because of Christ, though, I have a choice. I CAN choose to be grateful. Over and over I MUST choose to be grateful. The alternative is not a pretty option..
“May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father.” (Col. 1:11b, 12a). There’s a link, isn’t there?