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Today I was outside digging up dandelion trees (no exaggerating, they were taller than Cohen, who is now 16 months old) and Coco asked in his baby talk that only his mama understands, “Wat {why} {are you} doin’ dat {that} Mama?” I replied, “Mama is digging up the bad plants so we can grow good plants. Mama wants to grow ‘matos and bean {green} beans and peas (all his favorites) for us to eat. You want to help Mama dig holes Coco?” He said, “yea dat,” as he pointed to the roots that I was knocking with the trowel. I handed him the plant and let him shake and beat the dirt and worms loose that were clinging to the weed roots. He squealed and laughed and flung dirt all over us. I was having such a good time that I didn’t even notice that I had a huge hunk of dirt sitting on my eyelid just waiting for the right moment to jump into my eye ,which happened as soon as I went inside to get cleaned up for church.
That was probably the pin that pricked a hole in my puffy white mood cloud which quickly turned black and ominous. It started pouring down anxiety on me when I realized I was going to be late for church because I enjoyed some time outside with my kiddo doing something I forgot I loved, digging holes. Suddenly, my moment no longer seemed precious, but wasteful in my now dark mind. The rest of the day continued bleakly. The anxiety turned from an angry pelting into a torrential downpour that soaked everyone around me as well as myself. When I get anxious, I get mean. I have only recently been able to connect my reactive behaviors to anxiety and now I know to forewarn Toby. As soon as we were finally loaded into the car with all of our church stuff and the “way too salty for human consumption” soup I made for community dinner (I am my own worst critic), I realized that I was acting like an enraged beast because I had forgotten to take my Zoloft when I woke up. I couldn’t find the new bottle and the one on my bedside table was empty. I told Toby this as calmly as I possibly could, showing him my hands that were beginning to shake, and asked him if he happened to remember where I was when he handed it to me the night before. Luckily for me he knew just where it was and ran in to get me one.
Now most people know that it is best to avoid eye contact, loud speech or noises, and cautiously but quickly find a route of escape when dealing with an enraged beast. Unfortunately, for my husband, this beast takes silence as a threat, too; and he was stuck in a car with me and my rain cloud, which proceeded to fill the car until we were up to our necks. At this point we were both drowning. Luckily, Cohen was sleeping soundly like a sweet angel baby in the back car seat, oblivious to the tension flood. We were just coming to the end of the highway and coming down the hill to the park (where we have a potluck dinner with members of our church and members of our urban community on the last Sunday of the month before church) when Toby said, “We shouldn’t even be going to church right now, this is ridiculous, we are both in terrible moods.” I told him that even though we really didn’t feel up to it, there were people counting on us to bring food. My face was a streaming mess of silent tears and snot (pretty, eh?) and we both needed some time to calm down, so I offered to stay in the car with our still napping angel baby (I can only call him that when he is sleeping peacefully these days, he is way too fast and into everything when he is awake ha ha). We called a time out.
Coco must have known that we needed a long one because he slept for the entire hour. Toby brought the empty soup pot to the car and said “No one said the soup was salty and it is all gone so it must have been really good, it went so fast I didn’t even get a bowl.” I told Toby I was sorry for the flood I caused. He said he was sorry too and we should take a mulligan on the day. We drove to church and Co kept right on sleeping, I think he knew that dad needed a little rest too. Toby stayed in the car with him for another 20 minutes or so while I went in to sing. Our theme for this Lent season is “Chaos and Beauty.” We talked about Cain and Able, the chaos that Cain caused by killing his brother, and how God brought reconciliation and peace {beauty} to the family in wake of the chaos by giving them another child. We talked about chaos in our lives this week and whether or not peace {beauty} overcame. If not, we prayed for God’s peace {beauty} to overcome. How incredibly right on was that?!? It’s what I like to call a “God thing” and leave at that because there is no predicting or explaining His mysterious ways of communicating with us.
Because we are human and flawed beyond measure, we are broken. God uses his divine superglue when we let Him near enough to mend us, but much of the time we cower in the corner licking our wounds and making them worse, snapping when He comes close out of fear and confusion. But just like a child who has been in a cast for weeks because he jumped off the couch to “fwy” (which Co totally did a couple of weeks ago), the moment we get that cast off (two days ago), we inevitably try again and re-break our fragile selves, atrophied during our time of healing (luckily Cohen did not re-break but he did try to fly again and came home from Nana’s with a goose egg on his forehead). Which of course, Toby and I did as well the minute we left church! The storm was over, but it left the freshly dug dirt muddy. Through the evening at our friends house we slung mud at each other via snide glances and sarcastic remarks.
When we got home, we got our noodle flinging son (unfortunately not a metaphor) bathed and into bed, and got the mountain of dishes from breakfast and lunch done and put away while we continued our mud fight. By the time we were done, the dish towels were being not so playfully snapped at each other, the remarks were more and more icky and dirty, and the dam that I built up during my “suck it up and get over it” time out in the car finally burst. We were drowning again. Tears streamed down my face as I explained (very in-eloquently at the time) that we were just digging the hole deeper and deeper and hitting water. It reminds me of the Sunday school song about the “wise man” from Matt 7:21-27:

“The rain came down and the floods came up,
The rain came down and the floods came up,
The rain came down and the floods came up”

That’s all it took; a silly, but wise, song in my head that I learned so very many years ago. To borrow another children’s song, “the sun came up an dried up all the rain, and {Toby and I finally}climbed up {to the top} again.” He finally understood that I had been fragile all day, broken, patched, and broken again. The holes needed to be filled in and left alone for a bit! The phrase “digging the hole deeper” that I in-eloquently uttered, brought me full circle back to the lovely moment I had digging in the dirt with my little one. All of a sudden, the whole lousy side of the day disappeared. All I was focused on were the few, but beautiful, moments of peace in the day: Cohen’s giddy laughter, the familiar scent of earth, the strange but enticing way earth worms wiggle, goofing off with friends that I have missed, tucking my child into bed with my husband. Peace. Beauty. Not chaos.

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