November 8, 2015
How did my world become so insular? How did I become a planet orbiting around the axis of an adolescent’s emotional ups and downs? I have weathered severe family tragedy; I have been through seasons of poverty, both material and internal; I have lived in a war torn land, and waited out lock-downs while those in my community lost their lives to the nearby bombs that rattled the windows above my head.
How, then, is it possible for me to crumble, weeping, over minor issues like an ignored dishwashing duty, or a plate dished out with one too many offending vegetables? It is the banalities, these days, that make or break my sense of well-doing from one hour to the next.
The fact is that we an, er, “difficult” role, as dorm parents of a difficult child who also happens to be in a universally recognized difficult time of life, being an overly developed, and strong-willed, adolescent girl. Since our one-week “honeymoon” of happy willingness to join us for house duties and fun out outings, life has become a struggle. We have not figured out how to converse rationally about anything concerning household policies, and I do not have the gift of argumentation needed with this particular child.
What I have come to realize is that I must re-think ideals held about dorm life brimming with happy family hangout times and cheery heart-to-heart chats. In the here-and-now, my job is going to have to look radically different. And if I allow myself to be emotionally needy for anything more than sullen acknowledgements of my existence, I will be setting myself up for breakdowns . . . I’m afraid I must admit to saying this from experience!
For now, I may just have to accept that my job at this stage means simply making sure her meals and snacks are available, her clothes are washed, and that I am available for any other requests she has. There may be no thank yous, no warm fuzzies . . . but from what I have heard, mother’s worldwide experience this in a much greater scale that I can imagine, in my simple first-year dorm parent role.
All I can say is that I, who have always wondered how mothers do it, now wonder the same thing on a whole different realm of my reality. Hats off to you all, Moms!
*At church this morning I was sitting with the mother of a family who has been coming for about 3 weeks now. Since the first time I met them, I have been enamored with the brilliant smile of their youngest child. I find myself sneaking glances at her at the most inopportune of times, tempted to disturb prayers by my efforts to get a smile out of her. It is, actually, no big task: she is always eager to flash a big one. Today I asked her mom if I could take a picture of her, admitting that I just wanted to have that smile available whenever I needed a cheer-up moment. So the photo today is, quite simply, that cheer-up grin :-)