I can be a bit dramatic. Take last night for example, when 15 minutes into having no power due to some freakishly fast and destructive storm, I announced to the family, "I feel like Job!" Ridiculous, really, considering no child or pet of mine was struck by lightning, and with the exception of a few bug bites, my skin had no lesions. I was in no way close to being Job. Or Mother Theresa, who I will periodically announce I am exactly like, when I choose to wear my boots with the sole coming undone. Am I the only one who sees so clearly what a SAINT I am????
Teenagers are dramatic too. My teen girl had her father brave the roads with knocked down trees and wires, just to reach her friend, who by the grace of God, did not lose power, all in the name of taking a shower. Believe me, I too, enjoy a shower. But a teen girl?? It is the air she breathes.
And my teen son? Well, after one hour of no power, he declared (and by declared I mean screamed in his loudest, biggest man voice he has), "This is the worst summer ever!!!!" He hasn't been off from school for a full week yet. But to a teen boy trapped inside with his family and no X Box? An hour feels like an entire summer.
And I am not mocking, nor being sarcastic. I remember what it was like; when everything mattered a lot. I remember struggling hard in my college years, battling an eating disorder, questioning my purpose and wrestling with meaning in my life, and my father asking me, "What is your problem? Are you dying??" Those words...they stung. I knew he didn't believe I was dying, he was just sick of what was probably an obnoxious remark or eye roll from yours truly. But to me??? Yes. I was dying. And I needed my parents to be mind readers. I needed them to feel my pain. I needed them to point me in the right direction, because the path I was on was wide and crooked and headed in the absolute wrong direction.
In a very concrete and absolute way, parenting feels like it has just begun. Power or no power, it is clear that these seemingly unimportant things to me, or my husband, are everything to a teenager. And I mean Everything, with a capital E. Their troubles are bigger, their mountains are higher, their fears are stronger. It is all that every John Hughes movie was about; teen angst and raging hormones, only in todays world, it comes with the added bonus of ear buds, social media, and all kinds of evil at the press of a button. These beautiful mysteries of unspeakable joy that I carried so carefully in my womb, are out, and no longer swaddled up safe. Joy turns quickly to fear as they pull away, noses in screens, their arms flailing in all directions. Their moods are shifting at rapid speed, and although they choose to run miles from me, they manage to drag my mommy heart along for their wild ride. Like the storm that blew in last night, cutting the power, and stealing our comfort, you never know what is coming your way, and how it will leave you feeling. These teens of mine that I love. They leave me feeling powerless.
Because we are in the middle of a move, and God has an awesome sense of humor, every single book, board game, or activity that requires no power, was already moved to our new home. We even moved our outdoor deck furniture, which would have been nice to sit on in the moon light last night. We were stripped of every immediate comfort. And this world we live in...it thrives on instant gratification. Take it away, and we become that newborn baby, un-swaddled for the very first time. Boredom hit an all time high. Restlessness settled in fast.
And so I did what I know I am supposed to do in times like these, but very rarely feel like doing. I grabbed my rosary beads. And I will be honest. I had already had the last beer because there was no more wine. So really, what was there left to do, but pray? And my nine year old joined me...followed by my husband. And we did it. Every single bead. And this is big for me, because while Mary is my homegirl, and I love my beads, I have great difficulty when it comes to praying the rosary. My mind wanders, and I can not sit still. And so the only way to explain last night? Well, I am pretty sure the Blessed Mother had everything to do with it. I have been talking to her a lot lately. Mom to mom. I totally get the images of her with her heart pieced on the outside. I have her to thank for leading me to her. And it was the sorrowful mysteries which we meditated on, which truly, felt just about right.
Bed time came early last night, because all there was left was hope for tomorrow. A day with fewer storms. A day full of light. And I slept on a mattress on the floor of my little boys room, because we moved the bed frames, and although the lights go out at night anyway, for some reason, just knowing we can not turn them on, makes the night that much scarier. And as I looked out the window, to the sound of neighbors generators running, I swear, the tree across the street was shaped like God. And I know, I shouldn't swear, but whatever, I am sorry, just go with it. This tree...this God like tree...it was looking at me. Down on me. And I could make out a stern face, and honestly, I would have liked it to look friendlier. And I could make out a crown, even. And beside it, much smaller, appeared to be someone...a saint or an angel, or quite possibly me, kneeling, head bowed down in prayer. And yes, go ahead, and tell me I am crazy. But I saw it. And this is interesting, because when I run for cover and comfort, I usually leap onto the shoulders of Jesus, and imagine I am the lost lamb. But last night? Last night, I felt the strong presence of my Father. And he was large, and he was serious, and he was powerful, and he was there with me...over me, around me, everywhere.
I woke up to find that truly, what was outside my window, was just a large tree. I also woke up to the silencing of generators, clocks flashing, and a coffee pot that praise God, had already been filled by an awesome man that I love. The skies have cleared, and the lights are back on. And I am here, with these teenagers...who need me, no matter how they push, and who are loved, no matter how much they claim to hate. And I am reminded that I never have power, unless I remain attached to Christ, and when I feel most alone in this parenting, all I need is to bow my head in prayer, and He is there. Like a tree out my window, sheltering me from the storm, He is there. And my prayer today is not for God to take my cross, or even to take my teenagers crosses...but rather, I beg for His mercy and grace. I pray not for us to lose the cross, but rather, to learn how to carry it. That is the power I want. That is the power that keeps me going. That is the power my teenagers need to seek out; The power of the cross, and the grace to hold onto it.
Our crosses are not what weigh us down. Our crosses are what hold us up.