It began with the baby’s split lip during supper prep, followed closely by a toddler’s bleeding nose and the dog’s incessant howling while bringing in the groceries. But, if I’m honest, the day was low-grade not so nice since the middle of the morning. With a newly 3-year-old feeling his wings and the subsequent blatant disregard for any of my wishes and dressing much too warmly for the day and staggering under groceries and hungry kids and bad hair and lingering sinus cold and reproducing sand on my newly vacuumed floor and stains on the slipcover and…
Things seemed to be looking up. Kids were fed and we were on our way to soccer. I was feeling the virtue of being 5 minutes early and seemingly the first to arrive. Weird, the coach isn’t even here yet. As more and more people came and only one other member of our team arrived I knew that my slight feeling-put-together-momness was nothing but an illusion. With a frantic search for a soccer schedule, which I had not bothered to look at, the charming young boy from Mexico who was the only other player there from our team came up, looked at me with wide liquid brown eyes and whispered words that froze my heart. St. Claude. A town about 20 minutes away. An away game. An away game that started in 15 minutes.
I hate being late. It makes me tense and upset and I really do hate it. I especially hate it when I’ve made my son late for something he really loves. I especially especially hate it when my lateness affects others. I don’t know if it’s a product of my upbringing but being late makes me wear my shoulders as earrings.
Well, the van made good time with only one tense minute as I forgot my farming roots and thought impatient and non-loving thoughts toward the farmer carrying one round bale on a large bale trailer behind a tractor going 40km. Breathe…Breathe…The town where we were playing wasn’t that big and I pulled into the school with the only soccer fields I could see. No one. I began to have bad feelings about the rows of cars I had passed going the other way. Had our absence cancelled the game? I frantically called my husband, talking in spurts between driving to find cell signal to get the number of the wife of the coach. Head to the Rec centre, she said. Did, and locked. Empty parking lot. Another upset call to husband.
With a wavery voice I told him my embarrassment and upsetness and that I just wanted to go home. I turned the van around and pointed it home. Now as I had been driving I was trying to remember how the spiritual disciplines I’ve been trying to practice are supposed to train me for these sorts of situations. That in times of trial, because I’ve practiced patience and perseverance and been working on my impatience, I should be better than snapping at my kids and trying not to fall apart because of my skewed perspective on being late. So, I was trying to talk myself into a better spiritual and emotional state when a little voice beside me said “Mom, don’t be embarrassed, It’s alright. Missing just a soccer game? What kind of a deal is that?” And this from the boy who was so excited to play, who had, for the first time in his life willingly sunscreened in anticipation of playing out in the sunshine.
It was my son’s reminder and perspective that brought me back to a place of gratitude. I looked at this 7-year-old beside me who was disappointed but had the most wonderful attitude about missing his game. It wasn’t his fault, it was mine, but he didn’t blame me, in fact, he was comforting me!
It showed me that for the past few days I’ve been finding it very difficult to get my spiritual bearings. I’ve found gratitude, perspective, and patience very hard. God had been giving me glimpses of truth throughout my frantic soccer-momness. When I was stopped at a stop sign, trying to get a cell signal I had waved a young man in a motorized scooter across the street because I was parked. As he crossed I could see that he had developmental difficulties but what struck me was the joy radiating from his face. Was it the gorgeous day after days of rain? Was it his independence and mobility? I’m not sure what it was but as he crossed the road he gave me a jaunty wave of thanks. As I listened to the patience of my son I remembered that young man.
I’m still reeling a bit from my day. Some days are hard to shake and sometimes your spiritual preparation fails you. Mine did today. But looking at the young man crossing the road and the patience and maturity of my son I am feeling the stirrings of gratitude. It allowed me to read to my 3-year-old full of vim and vinegar child and enjoy him resting against me. The chortles of my daughter and her nuzzling her pink blanket. And it allowed me to pray with thankfulness for the good attitude of my son who was an example to me when I forgot some of the simple, good, God-given things in life like sunshine, healthy children, a van that will do highway speeds, water warm and cold, and peace that comes from seeking after him and his heart.