I used to say my father was the strongest man I know. We piled just about every disappointment imaginable on him and he always bounced back. Long ago, I concluded that the public perception of our family was far from the private reality. How then can I expect that my family would be any more perfect? I can’t.
I have said before that it sometimes seems as if every time the pressure lets up something new comes around the blind corner and clips me from behind. In perspective, things are never as bad as they could be. There is always someone in worse circumstances and misfortune is relative. I know all the platitudes. I tell myself these words daily.
Today we are restricted by society’s expectations that a family of five with two working parents would operate as smoothly as the Cleavers. We do not have the same luxury as Ward and June. No one stays home to clean while the kids are away at school or running about town. There are not enough hours to complete the list of chores, cook dinner, help with homework and solve the day’s dilemmas while holding two jobs.
So when the morning does not run smoothly, work stress piles up and you learn your teenage girl estas embarasada what do you do? How, as a parent can you possibly respond with compassion and understanding when all of your sage advice is disregarded for the sake of hormones? Is it just one more thing to add that she is failing most of her classes? I think I might explode.
Instead, I sing a prayer. While sitting in my truck, guitar in hand and singing some of the old meditative tunes from my own years of teen angst I find just a moment of peace. It helps. I am calmer. The throb at my temple has receded to a small ache and I am able to continue at work. That one short moment is interrupted by a phone call bearing tragic news. Can it get worse? When does it get better?
In a way it does get better. Focus is now on logistics and the emotional well being of my spouse. It is a respite in a way. All that is required of me now is compassion and the willingness to do whatever it takes to tend the wounded souls of my family. Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead! Money is juggled; travel arrangements made, doctor appointments met or changed and work hours rearranged. Oops! Don’t forget the ray of sunshine… Our 6yr old has won an award at school for honesty.
My moment of peace just got brighter.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5 RSV