Coming Out Okay

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by Corrie

A few months ago our dryer began to make a high pitched noise. The manual we found said it was manufactured in 1982, so it made sense it was finally saying enough and asking to be put out of its misery. We bit the bullet and bought a stackable washer/dryer set on a Memorial Day sale. We were a lot like the Heck family from The Middle when it was finally delivered and installed.

“Does it seem like it’s putting in enough water?” Phil asked, “Because it doesn’t seem like it’s putting in enough water to me.”

All six of us crowded around the gleaming machine to study the water flow.

“I don’t know…” I mused, “I’ve never had this kind of a washer before. I hope it’s doing what it’s supposed to.”

For the next 47 minutes, I sat in front of the washer and watched. The clothes churned one way and then abruptly stopped and churned the opposite direction. It was oddly soothing in a mind numbingly boring kind of way.

For some reason, it made me think of the cycle I find myself in with my kids. Because listen, I love them like crazy, but underneath adorable freckles and overbites, my kids are kind of tyrants in school aged bodies. I recently bought my daughter a pair of pink and grey Velcro sneakers she absolutely begged for in the store. Literally the next day she came into the kitchen, threw them on the floor and screamed, “I’m never wearing these ugly shoes and you can’t make me!” The door shook the house when it slammed behind her. My mornings are spent measuring milk for cereal with a gallon in one hand and a ruler in the other so that every kid has the same amount. Still, though, there's complaints about getting too much or too little. My response time to “Mama!” isn’t quick enough, my answers to questions not entirely satisfactory. The demands and urgency of the needs seem to tumble over and over in an unending stream.

If I were a helicopter mom, this might be my shining glory. But I’m not. I’m a “your-lopsided-ponytail-is-good-enough, pack-your-lunch-from-what-you-didn’t-eat-yesterday” kind of mom. I sign permission slips with crayon. On my steering wheel. While I’m driving them to school. The demands for more, different, and now from the little people in my care clashes dramatically with my natural bent. So parenting high need kids is summed up in a single word: hard. Unbelievably hard. There are so many days where I feel like my favorite pair of jeans, swirling around in the wash, worn to their thinnest fiber. Hanging on by a thread.  

One of my kids asks for things with, “How come I can’t {eat an apple/play outside/get down some games}?” She’s always ready to be disappointed. I know I’m a good mom. But things like this remind me not all my kids believe that yet. So I’m working to step up my game. To pack snacks before outings and anticipate triggers. I’m learning patience for the incessant use of the M-word and the whiney voice it gets said in. I’m determined to win the hearts and trust of these little dictators even if it means not hitting the snooze to pack a fresh lunch. Because you do for family, right?

But yet…

I won’t be their God. I won’t teach them I can meet the deepest needs of their hearts. Never in my pursuit to be their safe and loving mama will I allow them to think I could possibly replace their constant, all fulfilling Father. I will never sense or meet all my kids’ needs. Thank you, Jesus! You knew them all and provided perfectly before the creation of the world.

After that 47 minutes of careful study, I know our new washer works just fine. Clothes come out clean, stains removed. And we tumble on against each other, my demanding kids and me, their laissez faire, let-it-float mom. Somehow in the cycle, by God’s grace, we’re coming out okay, too.

{whoop}

Corrie and her family live in South Carolina, where she spends her time raising kids (foster and bio) and doing diy on their old cape cod home.   She is a staff writer for Respite Redefined and you can follow her on Instagram @corrievanderploeg.