It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Like I expected, as soon as I put up a “blog” I ran out of ideas to write about. Until this week.
If you are reading this, you undoubtedly know that I have had a trial some last couple of years. I am now a single mom working one full-time and 2 part-time jobs. To say I am busy, is an understatement at best, but I am not complaining. While I have little free time, I wouldn’t go back to what I had lived with for 22 years. I am so much happier and fulfilled with my new life, but BUSY!!!!! Trying to balance everything is a challenge, but I doing pretty well.
Rewind to Thursday this week. It’s the 4 day of the school and my middle daughter, Hasley, is not feeling well. As we leave for school, I am feeling that whatever it is will pass as she gets up and moving. However, it becomes clear to me as I’m getting my classroom ready for the day, that she is not feeling well all. Taking a sick day so early on in the year is scary for me, so I start down my list of “emergency” contacts. I’m finally able to reach someone and it’s my father. He agrees to come get her and take her back to my house for the day. On my break, I run to the store to get the customary chicken noodle soup and gingerale for the sick patient. I know there nothing in the house for her to eat if she starts to feel better. When I walk in the door to quickly deliver the food, my entire world comes crumbling down.
Mind you, I’m rushing. I only get a 30 minute break and 20 of it was taken up with getting to the store and then back to my house. I want to love on my girl for a couple of quick minutes before having to rush back. As I enter my kitchen to put the groceries on the counter, my father is emptying the dishwasher, which at first glance looked like a touching act of service he was giving me. However, as he turned around to greet me (or so I thought), he launched into a furious tirade about the “condition of my house”. “Is this the way you are raising my granddaughters? In this filth? I couldn’t even find a place to sit down and eat, because there was a hairbrush on the table?” I was dumbfounded!
Let me back up and describe the “condition of my house”. It’s messy! I get up at 5:30 every morning for us to leave by 7:00. There were dishes left on the counter from the hot lunch I had packed my girls that morning. Dirty dishes were in the sink from dinner the night before and from breakfast that morning and the dishwasher had not been emptied. On the kitchen table was the hairbrush that I had used to put a ponytail in my daughter’s hair while she ate and some hangers and miscellaneous mail etc. Hasley has been learning to make fondant cake decorations, so there was powdered sugar on the part of the kitchen counter where she had been working. In the living room was a laundry basket full of clean clothes that we had not yet folded. And my kitchen floor could probably be classified as filthy, but IT’S A FLOOR! I mop it, just not every day. There isn’t dog pee or poop anywhere inside. Food it not rotting anywhere and we’ve had maybe 2 roaches TOTAL in 8 years. I assure you that I have never seen a mouse or rat anywhere on the premises. FILTH is an overstatement at best and quite honestly CRAZY if we are being real! If someone I wanted to really impress called to say they were on their way over for a visit, I could motor through and have it sparkling in 45 minutes. You can’t do that with FILTH. You can do that with MESSY.
Back to Thursday…through squinted eyes I looked at my dad and asked “Are you serious?” Dumb question, but it was all I could muster at the moment. To which he replied, “I am not only serious, I am ANGRY!” And then the moment came that broke my heart and has forever changed my relationship with my father. I said “Dad, I am doing the best I can.” And then, here it is…”No you are not! Not if your house looks like this.” NO YOU ARE NOT!!!! My father does not value anything that I AM doing. He only sees and cares about what I AM NOT doing. He is not filled with love and compassion for his daughter who is working herself to bone, he is filled with anger by the hairbrush on the table.
Everything started to go black. I wanted to call someone for help, but couldn’t remember any numbers. I couldn’t get into the contacts of my phone. I was trembling so hard, I had to sit on the floor. I then told him to leave. He was no longer welcome in my home. Yep, I kicked Hayden out. It didn’t work. He wouldn’t go, but I kept trying. It took a total of about 30 minutes. I used some colorful language, threatened to call the police, and then finally my sister convinced him over the phone to go. He left. I really am not sure if I will ever see him again. That will be for another blog entry I am sure.
Besides getting my father to leave, my sister also talked to me that day. She said some things she’s said before, but there was a new gem that resonated. What I heard was “what you experienced today was the clash of people with different priorities.” And she is right. My parents have always been concerned with appearances. Physical appearance, weight, cleanliness etc. What you are feeling on the inside doesn’t matter. It’s what you show on the outside that counts. (and that’s almost a direct quote from my childhood). Once when I needed to go the emergency room in the middle of the night, we had to wait until my mom could put on make-up and do her hair. Put on a smile, comb your hair, put on your make-up and make it look like you are fine, no matter what you are feeling.
The condition of my house and my father’s reaction shouldn’t have been a surprise, but yet it was. All of a sudden, I was a little girl wanting my father to take me in his arms and say how proud he is of me for all that I have done and accomplished this last 2 years. I wanted to know he’s seen that I haven’t compromised or backed down and that I’ve managed to handle all of the facets of an ugly divorce with integrity and grace. I wanted him to say how he has seen that, although it’s been difficult, I’ve helped his grand daughters handle the trauma with amazing strength and faith. He has said none of those things to me. The one and only thing my father has now said to me regarding my handling of this major transition in my life is that I am not doing a good job because of the condition of my house.
I can’t find a Silver Lining with what happened with my father. Maybe some day I will. But I have decided to look at it from a different point of view. When I thought about what happened with my dad and what my sister said, I was able to see something. There are 2 ways to describe the place you live. You can live in a “house” or you can live in a “home”. The condition of my “house” may not be stellar (but let’s be clear that it’s not FILTH). The condition of my “home” is something I’m proud of. I am raising my girls in a loving, Christian, comfortable, accepting home. You can’t see those things, but they are, in my opinion, so much more important than a perfectly clean, neat house!
In my home, there will be dishes in the sink, but if my kids need to go to the ER, how I look makes no difference. In my home, the floor will be dirty (probably often), but if my girls are sad about something, I’ll sit and love on them for hours if necessary. In my home, there could be a hairbrush left on the kitchen table, but if one of my girls is working 3 jobs to keep things a float, I am going to come to her home and empty the dishwasher as an act of service and humble awe at the amazing woman she is. I am going to take her in my arms and tell her that I am so proud of her and the way she is raising my grandchildren. If she’d like me to the mop the floor then I will, but if she’d prefer for me to just hold her as she cries her eyes out for a while, then that is what I will do. Because in my HOME, love comes before appearance.
I guess I did find a Silver Lining as I was writing this because later in the day on Thursday, I was talking to Hasley about what had just happened with Papa. My only regret from how I handled it was that she heard the whole thing. She’s never heard me yell like that or seen me trembling uncontrollably, and I didn’t want her to think it was in anyway her fault because she had been sick that day. She then said “It’s okay mommy. I think Papa was really wrong for saying those things to you. You are a great mom and you are raising us great. I love that we can be comfortable when we are HOME and don’t have to keep stuff perfect. When you are at HOME you should be able to be comfortable and we can’t do that anywhere but here with you!” I’d say that is a Silver Lining-knowing that the 3 people who matter the most to me, think I’m doing a great job and are at HOME with me.
You can keep your house anyway you’d like. I’d say the condition of my HOME is exactly what I want it to be!