by Jennifer Dyer
Yesterday I watched two Dog Whisperer episodes while folding laundry. As we just adopted a new dog from a local rescue group, I figured I needed some more lessons in being a “calm, assertive pack leader.”
After two episodes, two sink-fulls of dishes and five loads of laundry, I was ready to lead the pack, or so I thought. Then the school called. Rachel wasn’t feeling well, so could I come pick her up?
Hmmm. That changed my day. Instead of writing and taking a nap, the rest of my morning and afternoon would be spent chasing my energetic autistic child. My stomach clenched. With spring break around the corner, I had so much to get done that I can’t do with Little One home.
A few hours later I was about to lose my mind. To keep Rachel busy and out of trouble requires constant physical movement. Yes, some of the chores, like vacuuming, she enjoys and will do with me, but I was exhausted. Add onto that, a huge project of eldest’s due this week and I didn’t know where to be at what moment.
After helping eldest with the glue gun, I noticed a strong floral scent coming from the laundry room. Uh. Oh. I picked up the purple bottle of fabric softener Rachel had insisted on buying at the store (because she likes purple). It was half empty. I almost choked on the fumes coming from the washer. A crazy garden of smell billowed from the machine. Rachel had “helped” me with the laundry by dumping in half the bottle of fabric softener. I groaned and set the washer to an extra rinse then ran back to check eldest.
A bit later I noticed the machine had stopped. I went into the laundry room and saw Rachel up on top of the dryer. She pointed to the controls. She wanted me to start the dryer? I opened it up to check what was inside. The cloud of floral stench said “Boo” and slapped me across the face. I fought back and grabbed the nearest shirt. It dripped water on the floor. Ugh. Rachel had taken the wet clothes out of the washer and put them into the dryer. Helping again. Yay.
I continued dashing between children, but each time I left Rachel, she “helped” me again. She detailed the inside of Daddy’s car with sunscreen, and drew a mural on the wall … with black dry erase marker. Eldest tried to put a good “face” on things and pointed out that Rachel had drawn an actual face. Yay for fine motor progress. Her OT would be proud.
I went back to the kitchen to check on dinner only to find Rachel “helping” with the dishes. Water dripped off the counter. My new new salad dressing bottle and sour cream container sat rinsed out and ready to go into the recycling. My little eco friendly daughter… Too bad she didn’t wait until we had actually used the items first.
I closed my eyes. Calm assertive. Calm assertive. I can do this. Calm assertive… ICan’tDoThis.ICan’tDoThis!INeedADrink!
I ran from the carnage before I exploded. Head in my hands, I headed for hubby’s office. “I need a drink.”
He looked up, eyes wide.
“A strong one. Do you think if I poured half that bottle of rum I bought to make rum cakes over some chocolate ice cream it would count as a ‘drink’?” I asked.
“Drat.” I sank into a chair. For me, I choose not to drink alcohol because I am afraid one drink would be too many and two drinks would be too few. However, in the crazy chaos that is my life I am so often tempted. “I’m so tired.” Water splashed into the sink from the kitchen. I wanted to scream. So much for calm and assertive leadership, yes?
That’s when I realized I was doing this all on my own. Yes, being calm and assertive works wonders with dogs and kids, but I do not have that ability within myself. I cried out to God. “Lord, I’d really like to escape from this. I can’t do this! I can’t be calm and take care of everything. It looks like a tornado ran through here. A home magazine would out me on their hit list. I’m a failure, and I really want to hide under my bed. Can you give me some perspective and help here?”
After a few breaths I started to have a different perspective. Did the empty food bottles matter in the long run? No. How about the wall mural? Nope. The mess from the backseat of the van (featured in the above picture)? No. The sunscreen? No. The car will be safe from melanoma. Ha. Ha. In fact, so many of the things I focused on didn’t really matter. Furthermore, I was correct in thinking I cannot find the strength within myself to always have the right frame of mind. I am an empty container. I need the Lord to fill me up.
I survived the rest of the night. I went to bed and slept well despite the still full sink and the floral scent looming in the next room’s laundry pile, knowing full well it would be there tomorrow … and the next day, and the next. But you know what? That’s ok.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. [New International Version (NIV) from Biblegateway.com]