Yesterday was my son Eric’s birthday. I had waited years for that day, his eighteenth. For almost ten years of his life, him being my youngest at the time, I had pictured it as my liberation day. It would be a magical day marking the near completion of my responsibility for all my children. I had visions of traveling the world, sharing my story to crowds of people, being able to have large chunks of quiet time in which I could finally get all the books inside of me written and published. With all my children successfully raised, I looked forward to a future of no worries–relieved of tremendous parental responsibility. Being a mom has got to be the hardest job in the world. Not all my children give me a five star rating. I console myself by knowing that Through depression, anxiety, hard economic times, the unexpected, I have done my very best.
Yesterday was not as liberating as I hoped it would be. A special surprise came into our lives a little over eight years ago. I found out I was pregnant. I thought it would be impossible and had been expecting my grandchildren. With my day of liberation moved forward by ten years, I feel great pleasure in having raised five of my biological children to healthy adulthood. The rest is up to them. Although I’m still here to help, I hope that they will make the right decisions, keep Jesus in their heart, hang with the right people, and be responsible. I expect in another ten years, I will feel just as proud of Zachary as I am of Penny, Natasha, Katrina, Isaac and Eric.
There are moments I feel discouraged. I think to myself that for 33 years I’ve been spending four to eight hours of my day washing dishes and cleaning up after my kids. Surely, there has to be more to my life than picking up legos and garbage. More than cleaning bedrooms and organizing stuff and more stuff. There has just got to be more to life, I tell myself. But then, I feel the hot water run over my hands, and I begin to pray. I reflect on the day, let my emotions go through me as I scrub dish after dish. I experience, resentment, anger, pain, confusion. I pay careful attention to every last food particle. I concentrate on the inside and the outside of the dish. I breathe in deeply, and smile with delight as I recall the good things which happened that day. The amazement that Zachary expressed while we were seated at the Thai resturaunt. He couldn’t believe that all Eric was getting for his birthday was the dinner, he said, “what, no presents?”
We explained that Eric is an adult now and so doesn’t receive as many presents as a child does. Eric explained that his birthday is close to Christmas, so people don’t have as much money since they just spent it all on Christmas. “Then I don’t want to be an adult,” Zachary proclaimed.
I smiled as I told him that adults just get different presents. I never would have dreamed that my rebellious teenager would want to celebrate his birthday at our local Thai resturaunt. What aprecious gift that was.
The joy passed, as I scrubbed more pots and pans. I had Eric bring my new Amazon Echo Dot to the kitchen which I received for my birthday. I listened to the Bee Gees. I felt disappointment as I recalled my unsuccessful shopping trip scouring the thrift stores for just the right couch. It was unsuccessful because I had not come home with a couch. Instead, I found myself desiring a very expensive desk I don’t have money for which would look beautiful in my entryway. The back of my cookie sheet took all the abuse I gave it as I felt envy go through my body. Why is it such a struggle to attain nice secondhand furniture for my home?
I placed the cleaned cookie sheet behind the dish drainer, and let the hot water soothe my inflamed fingers. It helped me remind myself that even though I had not come home with a couch or a beautiful desk for my entryway, I had helped my friend pick out some very nice pants for her boy. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Olive Garden, and I brought home my complimentary birthday tiramisu. Indeed, the day had been a success. By the time I had washed all my dishes, the table, stove, counters, and freezer, I was in good spirits ready to snuggle with Zachary as I put him to bed. I realized that not everything will go 100 percent ever, but through dish therapy, I can regroup and enjoy the successes of the day past. Go try it. Wash some dishes, pray, feel your emotions, and then feel the love, joy, and peace of God surrounding you and inside you. What a fabulous opportunity this is.