From Good to Regret

The day started out rough.
It’s hard to know sometimes who to be mad at. I’m definitely mad at the kid causing the glitch in the moment when a morning goes awry. But I’m also mad at me, because I can’t seem to get the whole process running like a well oiled machine. I don’t want to be the really funny sit-com that people laugh at because of all the things that go wrong in funny ways. I want to be the boring show where nothing really happens and it gets canceled after the first season. Well, I don’t really want that ALL the time. But there are two or three times I’d like to run smoothly: (1) the morning off-to-school routine, (2) dinnertime, and (3) bedtime.

I’d like them to pick up their toys, put their clothes in the proper hamper, use ma’ams and sirs, and brush their teeth without first bathing in the toothpaste. And I’d like them to stop spilling their drinks. I mean this. I am OVER the drink spilling. So much so that we have no drinks in the house any more. If they feel like spilling, they’ll be spilling purified water. At least that way, they’ll be improving the house when they dump it. Here, child, add some soap and go grab the mop. Now you have lather. Enjoy.

So the morning started rough and then the day got some better. It was a fine afternoon and the evening was pleasant. I dare say, even, that it was good. It was good. But then, all at once, it wasn’t. They started whining and arguing. Two of them were running like banshees through the dining room. One of the runners stepped on something and screamed like a dying animal. (Hard to imagine how it could be dangerous to run 35 mph in a house where you didn’t first pick up your sharp toy from the floor…) And then…


…the smallest little thing set me off. I didn’t even realize I was at my snapping point. Apparently, I was. It was the pencil sharpener. You’d have to know our history with pencil sharpeners to understand my frustration. We can’t keep one working. I buy a new pencil sharpener pretty much every time I go shopping. This time, I thought I had a better solution. This time I bought the crank kind from walmart. You stick the pencil in, you turn the handle, you get a sharp pencil. It isn’t complicated. Until you decide to remove the main section to remove the shavings. As a 5 year old.

So, yes. Beloved came to me and sweetly said, “Mommy, I emptied the shavings into the garbage, but I need a little help putting the top back on.”

So I got up from my position in a leather chair and went to inspect. Emptying the shavings into the garbage is a pretty generous description for what she had actually done. Flung the shavings far and wide is closer to the mark, though admittedly exaggerated. I can exaggerate after a day like this one. And I will.  Shavings were everywhere. The trashcan had been relocated to catch the shavings, but failed to do its job. And the top would not go back on.

She broke the pencil sharpener.

I bought a cool new pencil sharpener which worked really well. She went out on her own to “empty” it (in her mind, a good thing. in my mind, not so much). She broke it. And I got mad. I had to clean up the mess. I had to throw away the broken sharpener. And I no longer had a way to sharpen pencils. Small thing? Sure. But it represents a bigger picture.

So I spiraled into a mood that sent them to bed. They needed to go to bed anyway. I was done with them. There had been too much whining. Too much striking out on their own and failing. Too much.

After tooth brushing, I forgot something and had to run downstairs to get it. Upon my return to the boys’ room, I found them still and quiet and Mama’s Boy was smiling.

“Do you notice anything, Mama?” he asked. I didn’t really notice anything so much. I guess they were sort of behaving. He was under his covers. “I made a plan to make you happy again. It was my plan.” Of course it was. He’s the pleaser in the family. He does not like to step off course. He doesn’t like his Mama to be unhappy. He had gotten everyone in their beds and even Snugglemonkey was in her bed in a totally separate room.

“Thank you, B,” I said. He asked if he could tell the bedtime story and I said yes. It isn’t my favorite part of the evening. I’m happy for someone else to make up a ridiculous story about a ninja who likes milk. You know, that kind of thing…

About this time, Snugglemonkey walked back in and I asked her to sit on my lap. At that instant, Beloved jumped up and wanted to sit on my lap, too. Suddenly they were fighting. Mama’s Boy sat up in bed and pleaded with them,

“Hey, come on,” he said. “now you’re making Mama upset again. You’re giving her a headache.” The girls continued to fight over my lap, which I assure you has plenty of real estate for the both of them. And then Mama’s Boy said something that hit me.

“You’re ruining my plan!”

And they were.

It was a good plan.
It was the best way.
They were ruining it.

I immediately thought of God…my Father. How many times have I broken His pencil sharpeners by emptying them without His permission and without His help? How many plans of His have I ruined?

I do it every day.

When He set this all in motion, He created light and called it good. He created animals and called them good. Plants, trees, oceans–all good. Man and woman, good. It was all good. Genesis 1 is a rosy picture. The sharpener was still working then.

But by Genesis 6, it says that “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” and He regretted making them–us. He was deeply troubled. His perfect plan had been ruined.

Wow. I’m really thankful for His grace.
For His plan fix the things we break.
For His Son, who IS the fix for the things we break.
And for the fact that He is so much better a Parent than I am.

We ended our day by belting out My Favorite Things as a family. It is a known fact that you cannot remain grumpy while singing happy songs. You just can’t. So Mama’s Boy’s master plan ultimately did work. And it cheered me to know that though they did not do the things I asked them to today–and while they could not really meet my expectations today–they really do want to. And they really do love me. And with all their scattered shavings, they try.

And one of these days, we’ll just switch to presharpened pencils and call ourselves geniuses. And people will believe us.

Yes, they will.

4 thoughts on “From Good to Regret

  1. It has been said, “Just because somebody doesn’t love you the way you want…doesn’t mean they don’t love you with everything they have.” Interesting.

  2. I now know why my dad installed the pencil sharpener in the garage. 😉

    You’ll get them all trained and figured out just in time for them to be teenagers. Then you get to start over.


  3. WOW… what a great perspective. I was totally into your story and didn’t even see it coming! Thanks for that message.

    Btw, many years ago I found a heavy-duty real live SCHOOL pencil sharpener that attaches to the wall. It has been nailed in place in the garage and has even made a move across the country with us. We still use it often. I fully recommend getting one. It might just be the last one you purchase.

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