If you read my last post, you know that a storm was brewing in the Mergenthaler household. Makayla went to bed hating me, school, responsibilities, and life in general. The others were sent to bed without special stories or cuddling because I needed space.
I wake in the morning ready for a fresh start. Gavin walks into my room happy to lay on my pillow while I pray and review the morning’s tasks. I find Sean in the kitchen trying to decide what to eat for breakfast. And he is happy, but not happy enough to take care of morning dog responsibilities. There’s always an excuse. His excuses are ok as excuses go–he wants to get his daily piano practice in, tidy his room and be ready for school before taking care of the dog.
So I do dog duty. And then, I wake up the rest of the kids later than usual. Andrew’s grumpiness from the night before has carried over. He also has excuses why he can’t go run the dog around the yard. His excuses are less convincing–I’m tired, it’s somebody else’s job.
So, the dog chews on my new patio furniture while I wake Makayla up for the second time.
By some miracle, I get the boys to the bus stop on time. But as I park the car and walk around to help the boys cross the busy street, Andrew says, “Is this bus going to school? Because if it is, then I’m not getting on it.” This is said with a partial smile. And it’s kind of funny, but pulling him out of the car is a foreshadowing of what would happen with Makayla almost an hour later.
So, Andrew and Sean are safely off. Yay! I know Makayla won’t be ready for seminary yet, so I take Ricky to school. Another one down. Yay.
I drive home to get Makayla. She will be about 20 minutes late to seminary if we leave right away. It’s not great, but late seminary arrival is typical for her. I leave Gavin and Brooklyn in the car while I go inside to help her gather her things.
Upstairs, I follow a trail of water from Sean’s shower to my bathroom. There she is in her pajamas with soaking wet hair. I grumble inside.
“Gavin and Brooklyn are waiting in the car. What can I do to help?”
“Nothing.” She has that defiant, hateful look on her face. Pressuring her to get out the door won’t help. So, I go to get the kids out of the car and find a mid-size lizard had come in the garage with the van. Nice. I haven’t eaten breakfast or done anything for myself yet (typical of most mornings), and now I have to chase a lizard out of the garage and find a way to get a stubborn teenager out the door to school.
As I search for the broom, a list of all the things I had hoped to accomplish that morning runs through my head, “Would I have time to exercise? Should I work on registering Makayla for her online health class this morning, or do it after the weekend? The load of laundry I started last night is still sitting in the washer. With the lack of help last night in the kitchen, the dishwasher needs to be unloaded and reloaded. I haven’t balanced the checkbook and paid bills yet . . . . .” The internal dialogue continues, and I get a text from Ricky: “Can you bring my wallet?” I think, “Sure, what else do I have going on this morning?” I reply, “Yes.”
I get the lizard out, but Makayla still isn’t ready. I make myself breakfast and take it out to eat in the car with Gavin and Brooklyn because I think we will be leaving any minute. After a few minutes, I honk the horn. I wait. I tidy up a few things in the garage and the car. I honk again. I wait.
And she finally comes out. Seminary has about 5 minutes left.
“Do you want me to drive you to seminary or school?”
I know a fight is coming, so I begin to back the van out so she can’t escape into the house.
“Put your seatbelt on.”
“No. I want to die.” Which is translated as, “I really don’t want to deal with life today.”
“Just put your seatbelt on.”
Great. She wants me to pull over and not drive until she’s buckled in. Well, I won’t do that. She’s going to school. She will NOT win this battle.
But she’ll try. Without a seatbelt on, she begs, pleads, cajoles, insults–anything to get me to not take her to school. This is accompanied by all that things that are wrong with her face and why she doesn’t want to be seen. And her teachers are dumb and they’re not doing anything important there and she will not go. Meanwhile, the car is beeping an annoying alert that the passenger in the front seat is not wearing a seatbelt.
It doesn’t matter what I say in these arguments. I’m always wrong, stupid, close-minded, and unloving. I still say the same things, though. “You can do this. We all do hard things.” (I’m telling myself this in my head as I say it out loud. “Not everything in life is easy. You can’t hide. You’re going to get through the day.”
Meanwhile, I feel pressure building up inside me. I am so mad at her!! Why does everything have to be about her? Doesn’t she care that she just made her siblings hang out in the car for a half hour, that she’s wasting my time, that I was counting on exercising this morning and now I won’t be able to, that I have a huge list of things to do, that we have this same fight at least a few times a week in different forms? I’m so mad!!!!
And then I remember my sister-in-law’s recent blog post where she and her teenage daughter are training for a marathon and it’s not going well: http://motobees.blogspot.com/2018/04/mind-games-or-should-i-say-running-with.html They actually changed shorts in the middle of the trail and she threw down her water bottle while yelling at her daughter, “You can and you will!!!”
And I can’t help it. I snap. All that anger and frustration building up inside me that would normally come out in tears or yelling or slamming on the brakes so that her unseatbelted body crashes into the dash comes out as laughter. First, it’s a slight smile. Then, it’s a giggle. And Makayla says, “This is not funny.” And then it IS funny. I can’t help myself. I feel a little crazy. I can’t stop laughing.
She hates me. We pull up to the school parking lot, and she refuses to get out. So, I get my ugly, non-made up face and hair out of the car and walk around to pull her out. She’s a little embarrassed and gets out, but then runs around to the driver’s side and hops in and tries to drive away! Lucky for me, I had taken out the keys. I walk around to the driver’s side and pull her out. More people are arriving at school and she realizes I’m not above making a scene. She gets out, grabs her backpack, and says, “Thanks for nothing!” as she stomps away.
I’m not proud of this next part because it’s immature, and I should never stoop to her level, but I get in the driver’s seat again and yell in a mocking-Makayla voice, “Thank you for making me a delicious lunch, Mom! And for filling up my water bottle with refreshing ice water! I LOVE YOU!!!”
And I turn the key and prepare to back away. Suddenly she is walking back toward the car.
Uh oh! I quickly lock the doors. She is NOT getting back in!
She taps on the window. “I need my phone charger.” (Yet another thing that didn’t go well this morning. I plugged her phone in last night, but the cord wasn’t actually plugged into the wall–oops.)
I give her the charger and drive away. At a stoplight, I see a text from her, “I am going to the office and coming home sick.” I reply, “That’s going to be a long walk home for you.”
But, she got to school. After another 20 minutes in the car to deliver Ricky his forgotten wallet, I bring Gavin and Brooklyn in the house and attempt to get going with the rest of the day. Gavin is crying because he wanted to see the lizard I chased out of the garage and I didn’t show him. And now Brooklyn is screaming, “I want chocolate chips.” She can’t have the chocolate chips because Rick purchased special Guittard milk chocolate chips and they are not meant for kids to snack on instead of eating breakfast. Her tantrum continues for quite some time. I try to ignore it and go about the monumental task of tidying the kitchen. But it’s just too much. Imagine a slightly chubby little girl sitting on the pantry floor crying and hitting the wall because she can’t have her daddy’s special chocolate chips. I don’t want to laugh at her or reply like a teenage mom, so I take a deep breath and say, “Let’s go play outside. I’ll even go swimming with you if you let me exercise for 30 minutes.”
The dishes are undone, the laundry is still molding in the washer, Makayla’s health class issue is not resolved, I didn’t shower or make myself “cute” today.
But I had a great morning. I exercised for thirty minutes (if you count playing soccer with the dog and jogging in place as exercise). And then I swam in the pool with the kids. We played until lunch time.
And now that the kids are on their way home from school and nap time is nearly over, I’m girding myself up for more battles, more challenges, and, yes, more blessings.