By Jennifer Kelly
Oh boy. It was one of those mornings complete with inter-personal tensions, sibling interplays and wardrobe scruples. Yep, you nailed it. This house had a case of the Tuesdays. Not sure what I mean? Nor do I. It could be any day of the week ending in a “Y” and it would have little bearing on the conflict or events that took place. Days of the week are merely circumstantial.
The kitchen is said to be the heart of the home. Today, it was the epicenter of a battle and all before 7am.
My middle child bears the grudge of being displaced from his seat as youngest by his baby sister. The baby is now 5 and so this angst is deep-set and grows with every passing year. Today’s feud was over a cereal box. Possession of this cardboard ensures power for the holder. The unfortunate onlooker will have to grovel for the opportunity of a mere glimpse of the box’s listing of ingredients, let alone its glossy cover. Being an experienced parent and mature adult, I swiftly put an end to this conflict by removing the coveted box. The displacement of power caused the gloating whereby the object of conflict was no longer recycled cardboard but now a person. I couldn’t put her in the pantry next to the cereal box. If I did that, I’d inadvertently create allies. Dilemmas like these call for a refill of coffee.
Is this my purpose? A referee? A conflict-negotiations facilitator? The bad guy? All of which are unpaid positions, working nights and weekends with no vacation time or overtime. And if this is it, I may have made an uninformed decision. I want out.
However, I strongly know this is just a page or even a paragraph in my story. My purpose does include these bouts of discomfort or wrinkles on the page. After all, I’m a mother of 4 healthy children with wills of their own. For now, I’m actively in their lives to help form their characters by guiding their decision making, instructing them in virtue and helping them to see their own purpose in this beautiful world.
These moments of conflict do not define me or limit me but rather, add to my character, my unique personhood as daughter-wife-mother. What I decide to do with these events is up to me. I can let them dictate my day and end up alone in the pantry like the cereal box, (which sometimes sounds tempting) or I can use them to strengthen me and my family, not being overcome by the trials but by growing from them.
I, too, have room to develop my character. What do I need to see from this morning’s incident? Where am I called to grow? What did I do well and what do I need to do differently? The answers to these questions often change with the season, but what remains as a constant over the years is knowing my purpose in life, being able to answer why I am here. Yes, I have partnered up with my spouse to co-create our family, but my purpose goes beyond that. Chances are, its next to my sanity and I have clearly lost that. I’ll keep you posted when I find it.