Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On Scarlett O'Hara, Attachment Parenting, and Prayer

Oh Scarlett O'Hara in all her crazed and delusional glory would be so very proud of me. I've been "After all...tomorrow is another day"-ing myself silly these last few weeks. We, and by "we," I mean Big Kidlet and I, have hit a mother of a rough patch and we are keeping our seats, but just barely. Each day as the sun sets, I resolve to try again the next day to navigate the deep and treacherous ruts on this particular fork of the road we find ourselves on, and not fall prostrate in the mud, thrashing and flinging it all about (metaphorically speaking of course, but hopefully you get the picture).

I should preface the rest that follows with the statement that I am a praying woman of faith. At this point I'm not so much an "evangelical" in my Christian faith, as I am a "searcher." I don't pretend to have the answers, nor do I discount the wisdom of other traditions. However, for me, since I was a small child, Jesus has always been there--He just makes sense. Never more tested has my faith been than in the difficult moments with my children, so you will understand me when I say that this morning, it was literally by the grace of God that we made it.

Big Kidlet's trigger to full scale, intensely angry, meltdowns is very very fine at the moment, as is mine frankly. As closely as I can tell, the novelty of Little Kidlet's arrival has definitely worn off, and behaviors I was relieved to not have seen early on, such as trying to hit his little brother, have emerged when he is in the throes of a temper tantrum. I get this much clearly...the little man is really pissed off when he has to do just about anything any other way than he decides to do it. Control, oh brother do I get it, he doesn't like being controlled. One of these days he'll come to the fundamental question of life that I encountered as a young college student, studying Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales: "do we act of our own free will, or are we acted upon?" Ah, I could go on about that for an age, but I'll spare you.

This morning was going fairly peacefully, and we shared a rare private breakfast together while Little Kidlet slept in. We were on track for an on-time departure for my weekly mother's Bible study and his playschool program. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I have literally been counting the days and hours until this precious break; things have been rough and it is truly something I do for me that keeps me sane. The peace was broken when he was not invited (allowed) to come into our bedroom to bounce around and all over a just awakened Little Kidlet (that's a lot of energy to handle two seconds after waking up for an adult, never mind an infant). What followed was akin to what I think it might feel like to be caught in the whirling edges of a tornado, in other words, it royally sucked. No royalty is to lowly, I'd venture to say it biblically sucked. We needed God. Right. That. Second.

And that's what I did. I prayed fervently to God to still our hearts, and minds, and voices, and hands, and show us what to do. Although my son had been previously protesting that under no circumstances would he a. let me change his stinking-to-high-heaven diaper nor b. accompany me to Bible playschool, and we were so hopelessly late, so that it was highly doubtful that there would be room for him anyway, a voice urged me to try, to leave the house, and on the double. Miraculously it seemed my son stilled, allowed me to change his diaper calmly, get him dressed and in the car without further fuss, and finish loading us up. All the while I plotted a plan a,b, and c, but come, well, hell, or high water, we were leaving this house, and now.

When we arrived, I fairly sprinted in front of another late comer with a similar aged kid bound undoubtedly for the same drop-in playschool program. I prayed that God and this mother would forgive my selfishness, but this was a mayday situation, and I needed to get him safely cared for and away from his verging on speaking in tongues mama pronto. I still feel chagrined about that one, but we both got in, and I started praying that he would be OK as fragile as he had been acting all morning. I watched that pager like a hawk for the first ten minutes, but it never went off.

As is so often the case in my life of faith, serendipitously the study being taught by a friend that day was about "Learning to pray from 'The Lord's Prayer.'" I have loved The Lord's Prayer since I was a tiny child, and I kneeled with my grandparents each morning when I would visit them in the summers. My home with my parents was devoid of faith, or at least a "don't ask, don't tell," policy on the subject. But in my grandparents house, faith was the soft click of the clock that marked the passing of each moment of each day. Each morning was begun with the prayer of The Lord's Prayer. As my friend taught, the daily opportunity for encountering God in intimate relationship through this beautiful, but more importantly instructive prayer, made me understand the reasons that my grandparents began each day by praying it not by rote, but remarkably in sincerity.

Many days I struggle to practice attachment parenting principles with my children, but I continue to try because my faith leads me to feel this is the way I am intended to parent. I see a correlation to my mandate as a parent when God invites us into a close and intimate relationship, where we are encouraged to trust that we will be loved despite our flaws and foibles. I hear the truth of drawing my sons close, firmly guiding them in how to live a life lit by God and intended just for them, assured that their mother unconditionally loves them. I picked up my son from playschool and once again had the energy to love him just where he was.

In our discussion, we spoke about prayers of puzzle, petition, and praise, and here are mine:
  • My prayer of puzzle is why when I so fiercely love these children it is so surprisingly easy to hurt them in my own brokenness.
  • My prayer of petition is that God will guide my son in stilling his own anger and hurt even when his parents are not capable of guiding him.
  • My prayer of praise is that despite my brokenness, in those frightening moments of despair, a voice continues to tell me to try.
What are your prayers of puzzle, petition, and praise?

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