Monday, July 6, 2015

The Worst and the Luckiest (#SmallWonder Link-up)


Only the worst kind of parent hopes that the slow, cold, July rain doesn’t let up in time for fireworks.

Or maybe it’s only the worst kind of parent who decides, even after the rain lets up, not to take the kids to fireworks after all.  And, in fact, declares an early bedtime for everyone.

Either way, my daughter proclaimed in bitter tones as she marched through the kitchen, “This is the worst fourth of July ever.”

The worst.

“What did you say?” I asked, my back turned to her.  The comment wasn’t aimed at me, but I took the bullet anyway.

She toned it down, but marched out of the house, tears streaming.  Later, when she came in for a shower, she was still sullen and snarling and I was rolling those words around, that one word in particular, like a jaw breaker. 

It wasn't the worst day ever.  It was cold and rainy and we were all very, very tired.  But it wasn’t the worst, not really.

I was afraid it was, though, and her comment struck at a vulnerable place in me, the one that feels like it’s my job, my pass/fail, to make sure everyone has fun.  What kind of parent can’t pony-up to take their kids to the fireworks? 

The worst.

Sitting on the couch after everyone was in bed, I heard neighbors start celebrating.  Sharp cracks, pops, zings cut through the night and it felt like every single one was aimed at me, the great party pooper.  It felt like hiding inside on Halloween when you’ve run out of candy and little kids come knocking even though you’ve already turned out the porch light. 

I sat on the couch soaking in shame.  The seconds ticked by with agonizing slowness.  When would it all be over?   

We turned on the TV, but still, the fireworks sounded. 

Then I thought I heard my daughter in the hallway upstairs.  I asked John to pause the show and went up to check on her.  She was turned sideways in bed, eyes wide open. 

“Are you ok?” I asked, “I thought I heard you in the hallway.”

“I was cold, so I shut the window.”

I checked the window, made sure the cats were in for the night (they like to wander the roof).

“You know what?” she asked.

“What?”

“I can see fireworks from my bed.”

I crossed the room to the other window and knelt with my head tilted.  Waiting, I was rewarded with sharp sparks of white light rising from a distant neighbor’s house. 

“I get to see fireworks after all,” she said, with clear, sweet delight, “from my bed.  I’m the luckiest girl.”

The luckiest.

“Yes, you are,” I replied, relieved the storm was past. 

Back downstairs I struggled, still, to let go of the day, to allow myself to be moved from the worst, to the luckiest.  The two are not always so far apart, sometimes all it takes is the opening of our eyes in the dark, the turning of one's head toward the light. 

How was your fourth of July?  Somewhere between the best and the worst?

*   *   *

Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.

What if we chose to deliberately look for the small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God? 

That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.  

You're invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder.  Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are.  

While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.  

    


13 comments:

  1. Oh, I could feel the disappointment, and am so glad that the tide turned for everyone! We had a glorious weekend, not because we did anything spectacular, but because everyone was together.

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    1. Thanks, Michele. Yes, together is such a gift.

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  2. My children would say it was the best ever. We found a fabulous view of the fireworks display on the river in Nyack,NY. It's a 45 minute drive from the city. I mentioned driving up because we had no plans for the day. We ate at a really cool Thai restaurant that looked like a boat house, ate ice cream for dessert and watched the display from the "best location ever." Lots of other drama going on in the space of that day but I'm grateful for it working out so well in the end. I'm glad things flipped for your daughter and pray you feel a sweet release from judgement and guilt. Maybe we don't get to live in the land of either/ or. maybe we get both. The best of the worst, the worst of the best???

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    1. Yeah, Lisha! Isn't it wonderful when special days just flow?

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  3. I tell you, Kelly....those last lines made me tear up.Children are so resilient. And such a gift.
    Turning towards the light in the dark--yes.
    Our Fourth? One of the hottest on record here in Seattle (from 1958). Our 'summers' traditionally start on the 5th of July....at least they have for the past 20 plus years--it's ALWAYS gray and rainy on the Fourth.
    Not so this time--we had a blast--couldn't drag my husband away from the neighbors.
    Enjoy that rain!

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    1. There's such openness in being willing to see. I'm so glad you had a beautiful day :)

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  4. Our 4th was pretty good. No cell phones were allowed :) which made for the best conversations & playing with the kids outdoors. I think the new rule may permanently be - no cell phones when all together :)

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  5. Oh friend... I have taken on that impossible job myself... the maker of everything good. Yeah - that is so not my job and I fail at it more often than I am able to nail it. I love how quickly she was able to move from worst to luckiest! Perspective is such a gift, yes? And that last paragraph... so much amen! We didn't get to see our girlie at all... so that was not 'lucky' in my mind, but we did get to spend it with friends, eating food and singing songs and watching fireworks together... and that --well, that is pretty lucky afterall!

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    1. Yes to perspective, no matter how slow it may be to arrive.

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  6. I am not a parent, but I can understand a little bit about how it might feel to take on the role of providing all the fun. What a big weight that must be! I'm glad to hear that the neighbors saved the day by lighting up the sky for a bedtime fireworks show!

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    1. It's a role I need to release over and over again, Laura as the weight of it - as you say - keeps me from being any fun at all!

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