Corrective Lenses and Parenting

I have been cranky all night and the peanut butter and banana plus chocolate dessert is not helping. It is a shame, too, because it’s just about as perfect of a night as there could be in mid-June. It is still light at 8:30 and the neighborhood is milking every last second of daylight. The night air is active with dogs and motorcycles, laughing children up later than mine, the hum of the air-conditioner kicking on, several different birds chirping. There’s nothing quiet about sitting outside right now. It’s downright noisy.

I don’t know why I’m such a grump tonight. When Elvis ran his front wheel up the back of Lydia’s Big Wheel and fell over onto the sidewalk crying, I checked his knee for blood and told him to stop running into her and that won’t happen. Oh, and are you okay? Want me to kiss it? You’re alright, get back on your bike.

And Lydia is talking back. But I don’t want to eat my sweet potato. But I want to go to the Seminary Park. But I don’t want to read that book. But but but but I don’t freaking care what you want I want ice cream and silence and you all to do what I want you to do right this instant. Now!

Sigh. This is a bad parenting night for me. I’ll own it, especially now that everyone is in bed and I’m trying to enjoy the cool night with all of its chatter and buzzing. I think I can even hear the highway, and it is miles away. Go away, cars! Go away, people! Go away, stupid happy chirping birds!

Maybe it is because the day started off with a baby poop explosion that made me late for my vision exam.  I found out that my near-sightedness got worse and that my prescription is such that I am ineligible for laser eye surgery.  Usually I can roll with these things, though, so I don’t know what it is about this particular day that’s got me all twisted in knots.  Plenty of good things happened, too, but I’ve been too busy scrunching up my nose and grumbling to pay much attention to those.

The kids are in Vacation Bible School this week, and of course they are learning about God things, so today after work in the midst of my crankiness, Lydia asked me if I had a “God sighting” today.

I chuckled—joke’s on me, eh God?—and looked about for some kind of a God sighting because I sure hadn’t put on any sort of spiritual lenses today. I said something about how the flowers growing made me think of God, which was a total cop-out response given that our backyard is in full bloom while I’m feeling like six feet of snow.

If I had any eyes to see today, though, I am sure I would have seen God shaking his head at my need to control my kids, to manipulate their eating habits, to force them to behave exactly how I’d have them behave when I’d like them to behave. I turned parenting into a performance in which I am the director and my kids are the cast. Play your part, children, or the director will cut you and call up the understudy.

Tonight I boxed in my kids, more than usual, forced them to acquiesce to what I wanted, and when they didn’t care for that plan, I was quick to bark orders and cancel rewards. On better parenting days, my hope is that I teach them about the right decisions and then let them choose into those, and if they choose into something else, then depending on the outcome I’ll respond accordingly, with mercy and grace instead of fast justice and snappy discipline.

Maybe then my God sighting will be acknowledging the beauty in the chaos of the night.  Or thanking God that I live in an age that has developed corrective lenses, since during any other time in history, I’d be considered legally blind.  Me and Milton, you know.  Or that it was warm and sunny and I ate a delicious salad on our patio with my family at lunch and then walked around the block after dinner. 

Now, after I’ve carried my laptop back into the house, I am sure that God is in the silence and the churning of my thoughts, listening to the hum and click of the computer, waiting for me to quit my belly-aching and acknowledge the stillness, sit in it and wait and know.

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

One thought on “Corrective Lenses and Parenting

  1. thank you for that, friend. I needed a new perspective on my day as well … God's view on today's circumstances. I am grateful for new mornings and 2nd chances. (and sleeping babies!)


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