Friday, August 8, 2014

A Slow Learner

{Previously published on my old blog in December 2011}

I say the same thing a lot.  Like if you knew how many times a week I have to say, "Don't eat your boogers," you'd be shocked.  Then again, if you're a mom, you probably aren't.  In fact, maybe you know how I feel when I say there's a rather overpowering sense of deja vu in my life.  "Put your laundry away."  "Don't pick on your sister."  "Finish your homework."  "Did you flush?"  "Did you wash your hands?"  "Did you flush?" "Why do I have to keep saying this?" ("Did you flush?")  

The other day was Picture Day at the girls' dance studio.  I did Skyler's hair and make-up (and let me just say, hair-doing is not my forte), made sure she had new, hole-free tights, was not only on time but early(!!!!), when she came down the stairs and said, "I can only find one ballet shoe."

At this point, I just wanted to bang my head against the wall.  Because... THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME!!!  Matter of fact, most performances she's in involve Skyler having some issue with her shoes.  One year, she announced -- on the day of her dress rehearsal -- that her tap shoes were the wrong color.  In December, when I was in crazy, trying-to-keep-my-head-above-water mode, she was performing two dances from The Nutcracker at our town's Breakfast With Santa, show time 8 a.m. the day after Lilly's birthday party.  I'd just sighed with relief because the party had gone smoothly and easily, followed by a nice evening of watching Home Alone and eating popcorn, and (stupidly thinking maybe I had it all under control for once), I'd happened to ask if she had everything ready for her performance the next day.  

"Yeah," she said, "except not the black ballet shoes."

"Black ballet shoes?"  I repeated.

"Yeah, I don't have black ballet shoes.  I told the studio you had some for me."

I will grant that this wasn't entirely as far-fetched as it might have sounded because Jayna had needed black ballet shoes for a recital a couple years ago, so we had them at some point.  

I'll save you the details, but imagine moments of insane ripping through the Rubbermaid boxes in the garage trying to find those shoes, finding one and being just encouraged enough to keep frantically going through them as Wyatt screamed to be nursed and I froze my tushy off... and then I had a lightbulb moment where I realized that she did have a pair of old ballet shoes that still fit and I did happen to have a can of black spray paint (*for a project I still haven't gotten to), and some stinky spraying later, she had a pair of black ballet shoes in time for the performance.

BUT.  That's not the end of the story!  After wearing the stinky shoes for that performance, the studio gave her black shoes, and then ten minutes before dropping her off for the first performance (!!!!!!!!!), she announced she couldn't find them.  Picture more frantic tearing through the house (and tearing my hair out) before coming to believe she'd left them in the changing room at the dress rehearsal.  I almost cried in relief when she looked there and held them up for me to see.

Anyway.  That should give you a pretty good idea why my blood pressure shot up to 200 over 110 (or thereabouts) upon her announcement of this missing shoe.  She was "pretty sure" she'd left it at the studio, but I chewed her out as we drove, saying that if you walk into a place with two shoes on two feet, and you still have two feet when you walk out, you really should walk out with two shoes as well, and I was going to have to figure out a way to adhere the ballet shoes to her person until after the recital, etc., etc. 

But then I looked in the rearview mirror and saw huge tears welling in her eyes and knew I really needed to shut up.  Because a voice in the back of my head was saying, "Yeah, good thing you never lose your keys..."  After a few deep breaths, I apologized... my own heart started aching, even as I prayed that her shoes really were where she thought they were.    

And they were.

But here's the thing.  This week I've realized how slow I am to learn.  How many times God has to teach me the same lesson.  How each time I nod and think, "Okay, I got it this time," only to face it anew possibly the very next day.

I can know what's right -- whether it's how to talk to my kids, or how to manage my time, or why to have a good attitude even when the going's tough -- and yet it's almost like I have to learn that lesson fresh every day for the new circumstance that's challenging my thinking.  Every single day is a new chance for me to... well, putting it nicely, receive grace.  And if I'm so desperately receiving, gulping it down like a person who's been wandering through the desert takes a drink of water, then I sure as heck need to be ready to extend it to others.  

And it shouldn't take tears in someone's eyes to make me realize that.

Of course, it will probably take a few thousand more times to really, truly learn that.

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