In a moment of utter weakness and despondency last week I confessed to my sister Mood Ring Momma that I was considering cheering up the family with a new puppy. Animals have great healing powers, don’t you know? We acquired two kittens in Brazil, Washington and Jefferson, when I was bedridden with a massively fractured ankle. These cats are a much happier reminder of that hideous period than the scar riding both sides of my ankle. We think of the two orange fluff balls and forget the rest.
I was driving in my car when I admitted this thought to MRM over the BlueTooth hands-free feature of my car.
Dead silence, then the severe sound of her sucking in her breath in obvious disapproval. Imagine a controlled gasp.
And then she let loose.
“Why don’t I just hand you a lit match and a jug of kerosene so you can really self-immolate!? Huh? Are you CRAZY?”
“I know, I know…. I was just thinking a new sweet face might pull us out of the pit.”
“No, no and NO. You said you were getting no more pets after the ones you have died – and maybe not even then.”
“You are right. I did say that.”
MRM’s logic silenced me and pulled me back into reality.
In the end, a puppy is NOT the answer. I know this. Our dog Mamie would probably go bonkers, rightly so. She deserves to be the queen. But I wanted a gold star for our suffering! When one suffers in a family, we all suffer – a dog would make us all happy, right! Right????? KA-BOOM! More fuel to the fire is what we do NOT need. For just as one Thing’s situation pivots in the General Direction of Better, another one goes down.
As Thing 3 was experiencing Girl Drama last week, and suffering mightily, I texted her the citation Proverbs 17:09 to look up at her leisure: “One who forgives an affront fosters friendship, but one who dwells on disputes will alienate a friend.”
OUCH. (I could have used this when I was 16. And 46).
I threw in Proverbs 17:17 for good measure: “A friend loves at all times, and kinsfolk are born to share adversity.”
Mood Ring Momma was born to share our pain and to steer us away from other lesser, self-inflicted wounds. Like a dog that I would have to take care of for the next 15 years.
Yet the question remains: why do I want a prize for enduring suffering? (After all, I will get an eternal reward.) Brene Brown (apologies for not being able to do the accent over the last “e” in her name) would say, in her new book, Rising Strong, that I am an “over-functioner”. When there is a crisis, I swing into problem solving mode as opposed to paralyzing or falling apart (under-functioning). I realized, after reading the book, that I am ALWAYS an OVER, never an UNDER. Over-eat, over-spend, over-give, over-expect, over-question, over-react, over-blahblahblah. Then, when the crisis is over, I sit in an exhausted puddle, under-functioning and waiting for a prize. I bought two copies of Rising Strong and passed them out to my daughters over dinner last week (prize = all three children at home for two nights). Ms. Brown’s chapter entitled “Composting Failure” is a keeper.
My parents, The Radish and Poppy, recognized my need for a gold star and came up to celebrate our mutual birthday. How lucky am I? My mother still cooks for me on our birthday! DOUBLE GOLD STAR. Thing 1 is back in Baltimore working on her health, has an eye that can see, and no headache – MASSIVE GOLD STAR. We have “owned’ the story – it sucked, we “rumbled” with it, and we are moving on, “rising strong”. The dog days are over.
Final, unrelated thoughts:
Rick Warren’s daily devotional today on the importance of grief is a gift. Read it here: Daily Hope. Rick and Brene are on the same page.
My friend Mary is returning to the Congo next week for her mission work with the Congo Initiative. Before the storm began really raging, she passed on some sage advice: “do the next best thing” and “today’s expectations are tomorrow’s resentments”. Pearls of wisdom. Traveling mercies to her and her companions.
Last week I wrote the owner of the real estate company which owns Thing 1’s apartment building an email commending his company on hiring outstanding employees. Mr. Toby Bozzuto, President and CEO of the Bozzuto Group, wrote me back a lovely, personalized email within 10(?) minutes. HE RESTORED MY FAITH IN HUMANITY. AMAZING. Consider this company if you are looking for an apartment in the Baltimore/D.C. area. Long may he prosper!