Allowing Goodness

In my post yesterday, I closed with “there is goodness in the land of the living” as part of a call to rise above your old ways of thinking that make being easier for others harder for you.

The “land of the living” is a reference from Psalms (27:13).

I remember always loving it because, contextually, the writer leads to it by admitting to having so many different voices messing with their mind. So many different demands on them and they are pleading, ‘just please, bigger greater thing than I, make this smooth… make this easier… make this anything other than being destroyed or oppositional forces winning.”

When I heard myself internally complaining about it not occurring to anybody to rinse the dish and put it in the dishwasher, there was a bigger story going on that I will elaborate on now. See, I wrote “put it in the dishwasher” but – actually – the dishwasher was broken. Not “broken broken”; just in need of a little tweak in the drain hose but I digress…

It was the third snow day. It was the 8th meal. And it was probably the 100th bowl that was staked though one might argue the mountain of dishes theoretically made it more challenging / time consuming to stack a dirty bowl than to just rinse and wash.

<insert existential question on the shift when one sees more work in laziness than in establishing moderately productive daily habits.>

Anyway. We were out of mugs. We were out of spoons. We were out of bowls.

I was working in phases on the dishes and, upon returning to complete another round, I found the clean stuff I had washed was dirty and stacked. Literally, actually, actively *left for me*. And I felt offended. “It doesn’t occur to anybody to do their own dish”.

Here is why I am going back into this…

I am at the kitchen sink. I am looking out at the beautiful snow. The Google home is playing French Indie music. I have a candle lit. I am comfortable. I like my hair. My hot tea was drinkable and smooth. And I planned on doing the dishes anyway. It *had* occurred to me.

So this offense at what did not occur to others was an adversary. The thought that rose up was against me. The drain of power was about to cause me to lose heart. The oppositional force could easily win.

<enter Psalm 27:13>

…”unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

The “land of the living” is our very real life that makes very real demands on us but in that same reality offers us the truth that our present moment can stay in tact and be neutral, be smooth by allowing it its goodness.

Goodness took over when I let go of “what did not occur to others” and felt the power, the honest empowered steadiness of thinking instead, “it does occur to me”. I came to the sink prepared to do dishes in a peaceful, lovely time. The thought had no room in the inn. I chose to not be a victim – Martha the Little Red Hen of a scenario in which I was actually the hero – Martha, Little Red Zen.

What if every time we sigh and “are annoyed” about toilet paper rolls or shoes on the carpet or dirty dishes we actually gave ourselves a pat on the back for noticing?

(And, also, what if we sometimes did not put the toilet paper roll on the thing as a practice of recognizing it actually is not that important in the grand scheme of things?)

Hence the “time is running out” and also “time is relative” comments at the end of my post. It is worth noticing we have choice in whether we spend time wishing others would do what we are equipped and able to take care of… This includes caring for our self, sanity and safety.

I woke up in the middle of the night, realizing in a way I opened a can of worms with my last post because it is not a one post kind of thought trail. This is a lifestyle. This is a reckoning and an awakening. I need to tell you other examples as a part of this story, because it is ongoing, a process and a constant humbling learning.

My teens are my greatest teachers. They are helping me connect inner parts with my higher self. This seems right to write about.

That same chapter of Psalms ends with “…be of good courage and your heart will be strengthened…” (Psalm 27:14) I mean.

Why the heck not.

Sounds like hero stuff to me.

I came on about an hour or so ago to write a little something but was distracted by a teacher email giving notice that a long awaited batch of grades had been posted.

If you are parenting a child during this global pandemic, you know this moment of truth quite well. This is when you find out if your kid was appeasing your “you got your work done, babe” inquires and had not really turned in the work, if your kid turned in the work in such a mindless hurry they might as well have not done it all or if your kid may actually make it through college because they can midnight hustle in the grades with the best of them.

If you are wondering “well what about finding out your kid is doing really well and on top of it because they did not have missing work to begin with”, I can’t write about that because I truly do not understand that experience.

Overall, we are doing pretty good. But I am fascinated with these virtual school landslides where a completely abashed student admits defeat and slowly and steadily resurrects themselves to once again average and sometimes above average performance.

It feels wildly successful and oddly validating as a parent, when you break through and the facts support the hunch you had the whole time they were watching Harry Potter or playing video games after lunch and you see their genuine shame and humiliation.

Then there is this bonding moment where you meet them in this moment of true human experience with a snack and a smile and say “I have been there, now let’s get to it”. And they do and it is wonderful and celebratory.

But I have learned you really can’t feel that great about those moments. It was only two weeks ago when we had one of those Easter situations and today our sweet miracle student was straight up sleeping during zoom math. Like *they were cozy* sleeping during math class.

Pack up the trumpet and church bells, but keep the prayers coming.

The thing about virtual school is the opportunity for the parents to take way more responsibility than we really should for our young teens and their respective comings of age. I mean, how realistic is it for a person to have another human checking in on them each day, looking at what they should have done, looking it over for quality and preparing them for the next day’s work?

What is appropriate for parents to do and not do during a global pandemic to support their teenagers’ ability to thrive is really seriously gray.

And just when I think we are at least nailing Maslow’s lowest hierarchy of physiological needs, I realize maybe the mechanics are a little off there, too because that basic need of food and shelter? Yeah – that need comes with daily requests for potstickers and faster wifi.

It is always hard to write about parenting because it can come off as a basic gripe. But this is a genuine curiosity for me in this post. This post that was originally going to start off sharing highlights of my first two days of retirement. In just a matter of moments, my whole riveting post about how I deep cleaned our glass shower doors, prepped for Thanksgiving and accidentally FaceTimed my old boss… twice… turned into an inquisitive post about how to motivate our teenagers and encourage the dots to connect between now and the future.

How do we encourage their independence and hold them accountable all with the right savior moments?

I am reflecting on things like if I am giving them too much credit for being able to name what they need from me while at the same time struggling with what the right “menu of options” should even be.

Do you let your kid fail a class? Do you check their assignments every day? When they tell you “yes” when you ask if they got the work done, do you ask them to prove it?

Consequences for lying or failing are different; I am talking about actually knowing what the life preservers are and when to throw them in the proverbial pool of Google classroom.

Low and behold: my new season of life. Getting four teenage girls engaged and on track. If there is one thing I know from raising little girls through divorce it is that everybody messes up their kid a little bit and your kid is never “done”. Each day is an iteration and you can reflect and come in strong and wiser the next. You read, you consult, you pray, you try it out, you observe, you communicate, etc.

I am looking forward to seeing who else online is talking about this crux. I am so curious what you all think is normal and right for how the right boundaries for parents when we have access to so much about what our kids should be doing each day of the week. I found a couple of articles I am going to read on the subject. Hopefully they are more helpful than the one I read yesterday on “How to Clean Your Glass Shower Doors” that told me to use baking soda, white vinegar and dish soap. Cue volcano.

Ok, goodnight. :)