Had a moment with Ainsley on the way to Pre-school the other morning.
It started when it was time to get ready to leave, but she wanted to keep watching the Sesame Street episode we'd called up from the DVR. (Put this one under the "Problems my parents didn't have" column) As sometimes happens with toddlers, hearing "No." brought tears. She cried all the way upstairs. Cried when I asked her to put her flip-flops away and get shoes (no flip-flops at Pre-school). Cried when I brushed her hair. Cried when I put the barrettes in her hair, even though I used the Princess ones. Cried when I opened the door (she wanted to open it, and I was rapidly losing my patience and just walked out of the house with Alanna, who promptly hit me in the eye). Cried for the first mile of the car ride to pre-school. And I didn't care one little bit.
I'll admit it - I was frustrated and emotional. Part of me knows how important some measure of control is for a growing child, and how much it hurts when you don't get something you think is really important. I remember that sense of childish frustration very, very well, and knowing that I'm standing where my parents once stood for me doesn't help matters much. But every little tantrum meant another couple of minutes late for pre-school, and we had lots to do at home and work this week.
Here's the thing, though: by the time we'd driven five minutes, the crying was done. I asked Ainsley what she wanted to listen to, and she said, "Storyhill, please - the ghost song." "The Ghost Song" is "Give Up The Ghost" from their self-titled release on Red House Records:
Some of you who've been reading for a while know that Ainsley has a pre-birth connection to Storyhill. I don't know if that's a contributing factor recently or not, but I do know this: for all that we love Storyhill ourselves, the connection with our kids is even more wonderful. It adds another dimension to the music we already love. So when the song started, I looked into the rear-view mirror, saw my little girls smiling, heard Ainsley starting to sing along, and nearly had to pull over for wanting to cry at how rude I'd been to my kids.
By the time we got to pre-school, all was well. We had listened to "Give Up The Ghost," "Paradise Lost" and "Highlight," and the girls were all smiles. I dropped them off, with hugs and kisses from both before I left, and headed off to work. When I picked them up that afternoon, they were overjoyed to see me, and when we all went to the waterpark later that afternoon, we splashed and giggled and played and loved on each other a whole bunch.
The Gospel reading for this week is Jesus' encounter with Mary and Martha in Bethany, where Jesus reminds Martha, "Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her." It's not that Martha chooses things that are evil or even unimportant; Martha knows, rightly, that there are tasks in every time and place which need doing. But Mary has grasped the main thing, and has her priorities in order. Martha needs re-ordering so that she might receive what Jesus has to give, which can never be taken away from her. Martha, like me, needs to be reminded to keep the main thing the main thing.
Sure, we'll be late to pre-school sometimes. Life does that. I could benefit from remembering that for a three-year old girl, opening doors and getting to pick out your own clothes are far more important, and sometimes it might do me well as a parent to let her go to pre-school in whatever hideous ensemble she's selected, because it really isn't that important right now. I need to be reminded, as I was that morning, that the love I bear for these little girls is far, far more important than running absolutely on time or matching every outfit perfectly. Clothes will come and go. Someday I'll want Ainsley and Alanna to open doors for me because I won't be able to do it for myself. But the love between us? That can't ever go away - and I'm glad to have been reminded to chose the better part.
Grace & peace,