I heard my mother’s voice today.
She lives many miles away, and since we’re both busy ladies than we rarely speak by telephone. But from time to time, I hear her voice, and I realize it is mine.
Our morning got off to a rocky start. Rosie had trouble with night terrors and woke up Zorro very early. Their activity woke up Piranha Kid, who decided she needed a feast sooner rather than later. So I had three cranky children underfoot while I was attempting to clean a very messy kitchen in the early morning hours. Surrounded by disaster, I decided it was time to recruit a little help.
Noticing that Rosie was leaning against the edge of her bed snuggling with her blankie, I instructed her to pick up the pieces to her tea set that were scattered across the floor. Her instant response came out as a wail: “But Mommy, Zorro isn’t helping!”
And I spoke my mother’s words: “You worry about you.” And then I missed my mother, and briefly considered calling her to tell her that my kids weren’t helping. But I knew what she would say.
“You worry about you.” I don’t even know if my mother says that anymore. Being the gracious and wise woman that she is, she long ago ceased to offer me unsolicited advice. I doubt she realizes that the advice I remember the best are the simple statements she made in exasperation. Yet this saying is one of my favorites. “You worry about you.”
What applied to me as a child applies to me as an adult. There is so much that is wrong in the world. So much darkness and awfulness and tragedy. There is also much that is right in the world. So many fun activities, so many things to learn, so many ideas to try. But in the end, the only thing I can ever change is me.
“You worry about you.” Does the whole family seem to be having a bad day? Do my children need to be kinder and more patient? Have things been boring and we all need something different to shake us out of our rut? I must be the first to make the change, for I cannot lead others unless I have myself under control. I must flee to the feet of Jesus and find grace for the moment. Grace to make the constant and daily sacrifices that each of us must make. Focus to think on the pure, the lovely, the things of good report rather than the evil, the twisted, the hateful. Love to lay down my personal preferences and serve those around me. Only then can I point the way for my children to follow. I need to worry about me.
Note to self: Be careful what you say when you’re exasperated: it’s liable to be what your grandchildren are told. 🙂