Just love her

So often I try to figure my 3-year old out.

Why is she napping today when she slept in late, but yesterday I woke her up early but she didn’t want to nap at all?

Why is she throwing a fit about bath time when normally she loves bath time?

Why has she suddenly decided she’s afraid of the dark when I always turn off lights before bed and she’s been fine?

Why does she now have breakdowns over almost everything- usually related to the fact she wanted to “do it,” whatever “it” was and daddy or I did “it” and now her whole world is burning down in flames.

Then, one day, after a particularly brutal series of breakdowns, a thought popped into my mind out of nowhere: Don’t try to figure her out. Just love her.

It wasn’t a conscious thought. It just suddenly came into the tangle of thoughts I was having at that moment as she fell asleep in my lap. Yes, it felt like God was saying it, reminding me that sometimes I need to stop overthinking, worrying, over analyzing and just live and love.

And lately I’ve needed this reminder when it comes to her, not because I don’t love her or loving her is hard but because I keep trying to figure out what’s “wrong” with her when nothing is wrong with her.

She’s three. Her emotions are jumbled inside her and she hasn’t yet developed the mental capacity to recognize them, handle them or make sense of them.

 

I’ve been so overwhelmed with her behavior lately, and my feeling of inadequacy I’m figuring out what triggers her tantrums I’ve heard myself more than once ask “what is wrong with you?!” as if she can actually answer a question she doesn’t even know the answer to.

Imagine my heartbreak when I heard her say in the midst of a tantrum one day “I don’t know what’s wrong with me! Why can’t I calm down?” We were in the bathtub, trying to relax her and her eyes pleaded with me as if I could answer her, explain her out of control feelings. I heard my own voice in hers because her words are something I’ve said so many times before. I’ve asked God out loud what is wrong with me when I am in the midst of a mental crisis because my mind won’t stop racing through all the what ifs or the why mes

It is truly a weakness and problem I have. I over analyze. I mentally dissect issues and situations so much that eventually I have completely lost sight of the actual issue and have spiraled mentally into a hundred different directions and in the process thrown myself into a pit of desperation driven anxiety.

Most often I do this with my own health but also the health of my children, my husband and family members.

And when I’m not over analyzing I am desperately trying to escape my panicked What-if based thoughts through meaningless distractions.

When my toddler asked me “what’s wrong with me?!”

I took her gently by the arms and I looked her in the face.

“There is nothing wrong with you,” I told her, firmly. “You are normal. You’re struggling with how to handle your emotions. That’s all. You’re normal, you’re ok and I love you.”

She stopped crying and let out a big sigh.

“Okay,” she said and I hope she heard me, really heard me.

As for me, I don’t know how many times God will have to tell me nothing is wrong me with, that I’m not broken, that He loves me no matter what before I listen, but I hope I’ll keep hearing and keep listening.

He listened to hear. Remembering a Wyalusing treasure

The line to the funeral home stretched down a long sidewalk to the driveway and inside there were more lines, weaving through rooms, people waiting to tell his family what he had meant to them.

We only have one life to live and he’d lived his well.

Was he perfect?

No human is.

But he was loved and loved back.

He smiled and laughed and made days better.

He made my days better when I saw him at council meetings or fire department events.

He made my dad laugh and shake his head often when they were in school together and afterwards.

Sometimes when you read someone has died you feel a twinge of sadness and you mourn briefly and gently because you knew of them but didn’t know them. Other times you read someone has died and you look down to see who just kicked you in the chest. You realize that ache right there in the center of your heart is your spirit cringing in shock and grief.

Tears rising from somewhere deep in your soul and they come suddenly, without warning.

That’s how I’ve felt before and how I felt last week when I read about the sudden passing of Wayne Felter, a friend of my dad’s and the cornerstone of the community I used to work in.

We’d stand outside council meetings during executive sessions, him and I, and Dave, the publisher of the weekly newspaper, the man who later became my boss. Wayne would tell stories about pretty much everything and Dave would often stop him and remind him I was there, young and a female. I guess Dave was trying to protect me from Wayne’s more salty tales, but few of them were inappropriate. 

Many times the story would end with “you ask your dad about that. That’s a true story.” 

And I would ask Dad and he would say “it’s true … for the most part” and wink at me. 

I never made it to talk to his family that day, due to a hot and tired toddler squirming in my arms and the long, winding lines.

I’m not sure what I would have said if I had reached them. I didn’t know them well enough to offer much more than a brief condolence and to be honest I was feeling selfish.

I glanced only once at the casket, only briefly from a distance and saw him motionless there. In those few seconds I knew that wasn’t how I wanted to remember him. I wanted to remember his smile, the twinkle in his eye when he was about to say something inappropriate for the moment or tease me, and his laugh when he’d succeeded in making someone else laugh.

As my dad said, Wayne made people who met him feel like they were worth talking to. He would seek people out simply to say “hello” and that made them feel special. There aren’t many people who do that anymore.

Today many people are distracted, uninterested and thinking about what they’re going to say next when someone is talking to them.

They listen to speak but don’t listen to really hear.

Wayne listened and heard and usually found a way to laugh at what he’d heard.

I will have to remind myself now when I visit Wyalusing that he’s not around anymore.

At least not physically.

The people of his tiny community will still see him, though.

Anyone who knew him, even only a little, will still see him.

They’ll see him when someone is sliding down frozen streets when they were supposed to be cindering or when someone is making a joke although others think the moment calls for seriousness.

They’ll see him when someone is laughing with a waitress or joking with the customers at the local diner. 

They’ll see him in his children and his grandchildren.

And they will see him when someone stops and listens – really listens – making a person feel they are worth being listened to.