I might have mentioned that we have a guinea pig. Harry is the progeny of the class pets at the local elementary school who joined our family when my oldest asked if we could keep her (yes, Harry is a girl…). My husband told Ethan that it was up to me, a mistake he regrets because he really didn’t want a guinea pig, and our very timid and traumatized guinea pig moved from a raucous class of third graders into a family of four kids. She’s still traumatized.
Last week, the thing that I have been dreading happened.
Emily has had an unhealthy fascination with the guinea pig since she could crawl. She also has an equally unhealthy fascination with my makeup. And when I say unhealthy, let’s just say I don’t know many other people who have to physically lock up their makeup.
I walked into my boys’ room and there was Harry, terrified, and wearing blush, mascara, and lip gloss in the midst of lipstick swirls on the sides of her habitat.
Did you know waterproof mascara is almost impossible to get off a guinea pig and lipstick permanently stains white fur? My son said Harry was looking at her pink fur and purring because she thought it was pretty…
I wish I could say that that was the end of the shenanigans last week. It wasn’t.
I hear all too often that people say that I must be this incredibly organized person to be able to manage all the chaos that comes with four kids. I just laugh because there isn’t any containing of chaos here. It just is chaos with four kids and a pink guinea pig.
God has been working with me on over the past several years is a simple concept that I have yet to master. Control is an illusion and the only thing that we can attempt to truly control is our response to the inevitable chaos.
We are always just one second away from something life-changing.
I know the normal response to this is probably fear, but it really shouldn’t be. Holding tighter onto what we have simply means that we respond in a negative way instead of embracing what God is using in our lives for good — even when the thing is clearly not good. He is a God who wastes nothing.
God is good even when even when things don’t make sense.
Parenting a preschool child who has gone through more than most people do in a lifetime isn’t easy. The effects of trauma linger and don’t make sense. Like when I had taken literally two minutes to talk to one of my kids when he got home from school and turned my back on Emily. Luke came downstairs with a horrified/amused look on his face (it is a strange combo that you learn to pay attention to as a parent).
“Mom, you need to look in your bathroom, but I think you are going to scream.”
“That’s comforting,” I thought.
Emily was clearly having one of her sensory days and in those measly two little minutes she used four tubes of lipstick to color on the walls and white grout, finished my tube of waterproof mascara painting the freshly-painted cabinets, squeezed out a tube of foundation in a Pollock-like art installment all over the floor, and tossed lavender scented Epsom salt like confetti all over the room. We’re still confused as to how she got the lipstick five feet up on the walls as she is only three-years-old.
Some things don’t make sense, like the mind of a three-year-old in certain circumstances.
These are the things we don’t share on our highlight reel; the things that never make the Facebook cut. It’s easy to feel alone when you are hopelessly attempting to remove red lipstick from white grout. The white grout of life is easily stained and I sometimes wonder why we try to pretend that ours is still pristine when it’s not.
These low points aren’t something we should hide because they are just as valuable as our highlight moments.
I keep reminding myself that if I melt down over something as minor as lipstick (okay, lipstick, mascara, lipgloss, foundation, bath salts, lotion, chewed-on chapstick, eyeliner, and pink guinea pigs pretty much pushed me to the brink), I won’t have the patience to deal with things when they really matter. Our responses shape those around us and we won’t always see the impact immediately — we never know who is really watching.
I don’t mean this in a legalistic sense because I firmly believe in grace, but rather that our impact is never fully visible in the small window we get to see though. There have been times I have found out something that I thought was insignificant made a huge difference years later and these are just a few times I know about. Like the time when I met my daughter and panicked because I didn’t think I could handle her only to see later how God had beautifully orchestrated everything.
Then, there is the impact one precious woman made just by being present and making a point to talk to one of my boys. He accepted Christ simply because she was serving in his Sunday School class and took the time to say hi to him at church every single week. He hated going and wanted nothing to do with church until she came into his life. That’s all it took to reach him. Her simple effort changed my family for the better.
I wish I could say that things calmed down after the guinea pig fiasco. They didn’t.
Brian and I had a date night planned for Friday, but my in-laws were sick so it meant we salvaged our plans by including the kids since we couldn’t leave them. We went out to eat at a burger place and then we went to the bookstore since I’m clearly addicted to books.
Jack was telling me all about his favorite series one moment and the next, he just vanished. Unfortunately, with Jack, this isn’t an unusual event because he has the attention span of a squirrel and is a runner.
But this time, he wasn’t anywhere, and I was on the verge of panicking when I sent Luke into the men’s restroom on the off-chance he had gone there.
Luke found him. I don’t think I’ve ever been more thankful to find out my child had a sudden onset of a stomach bug. The horrified/amused look on Luke’s face should have warned me about the severity, though.
To spare everyone the horrific and smelly details, we made the fastest exit in the history of exiting with our stinky little boy who was miffed that we wouldn’t let him wear his squishy shoes on the bookstore carpeting.
The poor kid smelled so bad that we drove home with the car windows down. I handed out plastic bags since Luke has reflux and tends to throw up in response to other nasty smells (i.e. a little brother who smells like a sewer). Brian made a comment about this probably being the low point of all of our dates with one kid being a drippy, brown mess, and two others literally gagging, and the three-year-old loudly announcing to anyone who would listen that, “Jack is a poo monster!”
The kids laughing in the back of the SUV because the open windows made their plastic bags float up like hot air balloons. When the first one got loose, it was funny. The second one floated around the car with the animosity of a U.F.O. and obscured Brian’s view of the dark and narrow back road mandated the “hold onto your bag” rule.
And the kids just laughed more.
Because sometimes low points are funny. Hilarious even.
Except if you are a guinea pig, I suppose. Harry and I are both hoping for some higher points soon. But there’s no controlling that…
Since I clearly have to replace my makeup on a regular basis, I signed up for Julep’s fully customizable subscription box (and I can skip it when there aren’t any more makeup “incidents”!). It is a tremendous value so if you are interested, you can find more here. It won’t cost you any more to use this link, but it does give me a referral bonus to help replenish the “art supplies.” I appreciate your support!