Ruthie is digressing. Or relapsing. Or rebelling. Or whatever you call it when a perfectly normal potty trained three-year-old starts pee-ing herself several times a day. Oh yeah. I’m angry. And I’m not just irritated-angry or inconvenienced-angry. I’M ANGRY. In fact I’m REALLY REALLY angry. I was already angry that this was happening, but then the proverbial cherry on top was when she just now pee’d while SITTING ON MY LAP. It soaked through my pants to my underwear, and through the chair fabric into the cushion.
I wrote the previous paragraph earlier today when I was, well, angry.
I was tempted to continue on with my rage of words – the bitterness, the stabbing, the indignation – it was all fueling my adrenaline. My heart was pounding, my eyes were narrowed, my lips were pursed –
And then I stopped writing.
I just knew where it was heading – a lamenting post about what a bitch a three foot tall Dora-lover is for pee-ing in her pants. I was taking it personally. And though I believe her potty rebellion is a declaration of control and not merely a series of accidents, my response to her in recent days has, I’m sure, fueled her flame as well.
Step 5 kicked in.
Step 5, as they say, separates the boys from the men. Am I going to talk about overcoming anger? Or am I going to make a change?
(As I wrote this last sentence, it sounded eerily similar to yesterday’s post.)
As Ruthie soaked in the bathtub, I found myself cornered in the kitchen – sobbing, grieving, ashamed. I am the fat kid from Mean Creek, shaming others and making them feel small, delusioned that this will win their respect or somehow satisfy my need.
Every day that goes by, every hour, every second, every time she laughs or dances or begs me to sit with her I am aware that my time with her is fleeting. I have a narrow window to get my shit together and it better happen soon because Ruthie is smart – scary smart – and one day she may stop giving me hugs and kisses when I ask her to forgive me.
Sometimes this reality drives me to action and motivates me to change. But there are times when I believe a Lie, the one that asks, “Did God really say – ?” And I project twelve years down the road to a teenage Ruthie who hates me, who rebels, who feels unloved by me, and this makes me certain that I will never change and there is no hope.
I keep my Love List from I Corinthians taped to one of the cabinet doors in my kitchen. I refer to it often, and continue to pray that God will change my heart to reflect more of what love IS than what love is NOT.
I checked that list as I stood in the kitchen crying, and I spoke the words out loud, “Patient. Kind. Unfailing.” I was falling short on all accounts today, and I asked God to forgive me.
It was a small victory, though it seems twisted, in a way, to declare victory from within the ruins of nuclear annihilation. But the Word stepped in and set me free to move on and let go. My pulse retreated and my tightened chest released – the physical tension dissipated without being satisfied.
I was interrupted.