I have trouble leaving the house on time. And with four little ones to hustle to the minivan with all the requisite lesson stuff and shoes and coats and underwear (yes, as it so happens, my dear Bellie one day “forgot” her undergarments on a trip to the grocery store. And she was wearing a skirt. She didn’t get what the big deal was.) it gets a little frenzied at times. We generally are never more than
10minutes 15minutes 30 minutes late. So, I have taken to “padding” our ETL (Estimated Time of Leaving). It takes approximately half an hour to get to town from The Ranch. (We love living in the country, but the time to commute must be factored in). Then, I add 15 minutes to “transition” from house to car. I don’t know why getting the kids out the door, into the van, and strapped takes 15 minutes, but it does. Prior to that, I make sure the kids are properly anticipating the Leaving of the House. They get warnings at 10-minute intervals for at least thirty minutes prior to the “transition” 15 minutes. Needless to say, it is a process. And one that requires constant vigilance to the clock on my part.
Yesterday, I considered it a victory when I had herded all the kids plus myself into the car so we could leave the house at that exact 30-minutes-to-commute mark. Phew! I turned my key in the ignition and – CLICK. My battery was dead.
Now, our geriatric minivan battery has been on its last legs for several months. I was not sure if I would even be able to jump start it back to life, and we were late for Junior’s karate class anyway at this point, so I opted to just say screw it and stay home. I texted Hubby to be sure to pick up a new battery on the way home from work.
The weird part was, I was really ticked off about this turn of events. It was no big deal. Karate wasn’t a requirement, and the kids were, by and large, pleased that they got an evening off from running to town. It gave me extra time to get the kitchen cleaned up and dinner on the table. We could afford a new car battery and my car had died, conveniently, in our own driveway so I was not stuck somewhere foreign with four unhappy kiddos and the logistics of getting home to think about. The situation was nothing bad.
So, why was I irked? Because, it was not in my plan. And, certainly, when I had begun the whole “count down” routine an hour and fifteen minutes before Junior’s karate class was due to start at 5pm, I was single-mindedly working toward my goal of getting out of the house and to class on time. My reward was to be that, having dropped Junior off, I would sit in my car and gloat over the fact that I was such a great CEO of my time.
I was just musing over the fact that we human beings are obsessed with control. Regardless of whether you consider yourself a control freak or more laissez-faire, each one of us is invested somewhat in being able to control our looks, our health, our family members, and, yes, our future. Or perhaps, I should say, invested in the illusion that we are, in every instance, in control.
As a mother, I really struggle with the concept of control. First of all, having four littles running around like banshees the vast majority of the time makes one feel very out-of-control. And, by nature, I am a control freak. I want to be able to control my children’s behavior at all times. And shouldn’t I? Won’t the general populace look upon me with derision and scorn if I am unable to control my children’s behavior in a public place? Won’t I be neglecting my duties as a parent if I don’t control my children’s media time, the friends they have, and their time spent doing homework? It’s commonly agreed that involved parents are better for creating the next generation’s leaders and contributing members of society than parents who let their children do whatever they want. Isn’t this all about control? If I can control every aspect of my day, including my children’s behavior, activities, and schedule, won’t that guarantee they will lead happy, safe, and successful existences?
The truth is, I can’t. None of us can. Trying to be in charge of our circumstances 100% of the time is impossible. We do our best, and need to learn to let go of the rest. And honestly, if I naively think I can or should be in control all the time, where does that place God in my life? It relegates Him to a minor, supporting role. As a Christian, I believe in an All-powerful, All-knowing, All-in -Control diety. I need to remind myself that much of the time, IT DOESN’T ALL DEPEND ON ME, and then leave the rest to Him. He is in control, and He knows what He is doing. His plans may not be my plans. It is merciful that He allows me to have “reality checks” once in awhile that remind me of that, even in the annoying guise of car trouble.
Those two blue lines on the pregnancy test when Hubby & I were “done” having children?
Only able to find a minimum-wage retail job after I graduated from college in the midst of the recession?
Having to cancel a much-anticipated trip when Hubby lost his job?
All dressed to the nines for Christmas mass when the youngest child gets a violent incarnation of the stomach flu?
God says, “You’ve done all you can, now let me handle this. It’s OK.”
And you know what? Somehow, it does always wind up being OK. And I breathe a sigh of relief that I no longer have to be the Atlas of Control. But I probably will still ask God’s help for getting me out of the house on time.