I have had a really tough week with Piper. She is sick. She is intense normally, but she is especially intense when she is sick. I have had to miss things that are really important to me this week. I have been asked to sit and watch TV when I had a thousand other things I’d rather do. I’ve done my best to be present and speak calmly to her. I have prayed for supernatural patience and love for her. I’ve done the best I can.
Then we went to the doctor yesterday.
She has had a high fever off and on for a week. I really try to avoid bringing her to the doctor. She hates going. She gets very anxious before and while we are there. I have also found that I have to be honest with her. In the past I have tried to avoid telling her that she is going to get shots or get her blood drawn. I do that hoping that maybe if she hears it from the doctor instead of me she will react differently. In case you are thinking about trying that, don’t-it doesn’t work. She may be able to keep it together in the clinic, but the extreme reaction at home and broken trust are never worth it. So yesterday I told her she may have to get her blood drawn.
After telling her that, with all the strength she could muster in her feverish state, she decided she wasn’t going to go to the doctor. She is only a foot shorter than me, I can’t force her to do anything. The battle began….
After about a half hour of fighting, I got her to at least put on a pair of shorts. I let go of my desire for her to change her underwear and shirts. I didn’t even suggest brushing her teeth or combing her hair. We finally got in the car after bribing her with everything I could possibly think of.
I thought I was in the clear. You see, once we are in public, she usually keeps it together pretty well. She isn’t unique in that sense, most of us try to resemble some sense of normalcy in public.
I was wrong. I am going to blame it on her fever. She did not keep it together.
Starting with the nursing assistant, she yelled and cried at everyone that walked in the door. She was scared, I understood that. No one likes to get their mouth swabbed or their blood drawn-especially anxious people. But she had a fever of 103 degrees and we needed to figure out what was going on. I tried to be calm and speak lovingly to her. I tried to sympathize with her. I tried to speak rationally to her. Nothing was going through.
And then I got angry. She can sense when something shifts in me. I was still trying to speak calmly. I was still praying for peace. I tried to be loving. But no matter how much I tried, I couldn’t hide it. I was angry.
I was angry at her, because she was crying and yelling. I was angry that she wouldn’t let the doctor look in her mouth. I was angry that she wouldn’t even take Tylenol to help her feel better. I was angry at the doctor that kept looking to me for guidance, when clearly I had run out of tricks. I was angry that I was there dealing with this, when Bryan is so much better at it. And I was angry at myself for being angry. I was angry that we walked away with no answers, just another couple of days to see how she feels. I was angry that there was so much traffic. I was so angry that I just dropped Piper off at home without much explanation. I left. I went to a parking lot and screamed and cried-I was angry.
I was angry because I feel like I’m expected to be this superhuman who is always patient, loving, and compassionate. None of those things come naturally to me. The minute I let my guard down with Piper, something falls apart. And honestly, can anyone really feel patience, love and compassion after being yelled at for an hour?
So like I said, I left. I didn’t say goodbye. I went to a parking lot and screamed for a while. I obviously deserved junk food, so that was my next stop.
As I ate, I had tears running down my cheeks. I feel sad that this is our story. I never imagined my relationship with my child to be so complicated. The relationship I had with my parents were nothing like this. As I thought about that, I was reminded of something. Something that has had an enduring, profound impact on my life.
When we were growing up, my mom apologized.
My mom wasn’t perfect, she would yell at us. She would get frustrated at things she would later regret. Her and my dad didn’t have a perfect marriage. She didn’t always have the right words to say. But you know what, I barely remember being yelled at or the times my parents got frustrated. What I remember the most is when my mom would apologize. When she got upset and she felt like she was wrong, she would be the first to say she was sorry. And it wouldn’t stop with an apology, she would change. She would react differently the next time, full of more grace and compassion. My whole life I have watched my mom grow. She continues to do so. She is closer to Jesus than she used to be, her relationships are deeper and her character is stronger.
I knew what I needed to do. I needed to apologize to Piper.
So I did, I went home and I told piper I was sorry.
She had no idea I had drove away in a frenzy or spent the last hour in tears. I told her I was sorry that I got angry and she forgave me. Her attention quickly went back to the show she was watching, having no idea of my inner turmoil.
I didn’t have any answers or solutions. I still felt angry. But I knew it couldn’t wait. I didn’t want her to remember how angry I was. I wanted her to remember that I was sorry. She will probably remember the times I yelled or when I reacted out of frustration. But the memories that I want to rise above are the times when I was able to recognize when I was wrong, apologize and seek real change. I want her to be able to look back and say with confidence-my mom is different. She is better than she once was. She is much more graceful, much more patient and known for her compassion.
I’m not going to lie, I am weary, I would describe our summer as intense. This battle took the wind out of my sails and I’m still recovering today. I’m not sure what I could have done better at the doctors office. I don’t have a wise tidbit to pass on.
But I’m grateful. I’m grateful that there is power in words and when they are used in humility they can bring true reconciliation. And I’m even more grateful that I can change, that I can be better. I can grow, God is not done with me yet. And he is not done with Piper either.
So thank you mom. Thank you for reminding me then and still today that we were never asked to be superhumans, just people who recognize when we are wrong and work towards better. May my kids remember me the way I remember you.