And yet, as a chaplain and mother, life is usually far from boring. I'm right in the drama of life, from birth to death, and all the crises in between. The past few weekends, I've had the privilege of presiding at weddings, one of the greatest joys of my ministry. On the flip side, a second great honor in ministry is being involved in memorial services. It would be strange to say that I enjoy them, but I do appreciate the inherent sacredness. Between these ups and downs, and the many traumatic stories I've been witness to in over 14 years of ministry, it would be overwhelming if it were not for God's presence, the support of those who love me, professional counselors, and times for self-care, rest, and Sabbath.
There are some people, however, who seem to thrive on drama. They look for ways to draw others in to their sensational stories, seeking attention with acting out or attacking others. We all know "those people" in ministry settings that seem to be the instigators, stirring up conflict over seemingly minor issues, and we study family systems as a way to understand and manage our own tension. However, I've found the greatest sources of drama in my life are not from ministry conflicts or counseling case studies, but instead are the tiny actors in my own home. I assume most children use drama to draw attention, however, I can't help but think that my little prodigies are exceptionally gifted in this area. Why simply be dissatisfied when you can shriek and wail as if the world is ending? Why be angry when you can curse your family members with the dreaded "I don't love you" or the equally painful "Why don't you LOOOOOVVVVEE meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee?" There are sobbing fits that go on so long that I'm not sure which will crumble first--the wall of our house, or my resolve. Then there are the breathy hiccups that threaten to build up into round twenty if you don't play your cards right.
I get it...it's hard to be 5 or 7 and not get your way. It's hard to be 36 and still feel like your bargaining with two little dictators who missed the memo that they're supposed to honor and obey their parents instead of treating everything like it's their right, choice, and privilege. I know that I'm supposed to be an adult and not take it personally or sink down to their level of arguing, yelling, or threatening. I'm not sure why it still bothers me after fight #1009 over who gets the blasted blue blanket when they're having a sleepover. If the stupid thing weren't filled with down, I'd have a King Solomon moment and tear the darn thing in two with my bare hands.
As I feel my blood boiling, I do what I can to calm myself, and then I gather her tear-stained face in gentle hands for a kiss. I whisper that tomorrow will be better for both of us, a new chance to be patient, to start over. I tell her that I love her no matter what, as I silently remind myself that she loves me, too, even though she's too mad and hurt to say so. And I feel humbled that she is learning how to handle her disappointments from me, an example that I've shown poorly this time. I offer my apologizes, although it's harder to forgive myself and move on as I know better. It's so much easier to handle the drama and conflict in my job than in my home. But God-willing, I, too, will have a do-over tomorrow, a chance to model the calm, even, undramatic reactions that I desire.
And then I'll count down the days until we send them both off to theater camp next week! (A little positive outlet for their drama will do us all good, right?)
I just can't seem to figure out where she gets her mood swings and attitude...