Two weeks ago I had a particularly rough parenting day. Silas is nearly three, and as anyone who has had a three year old knows, the “terrible twos” are a big fat lie. It’s the threes that threaten everyone’s sanity. So this particular day, he broke a tv antenna, hid my insurance card in the couch (causing an overdramatic reaction on my part), tore pages out of Nicky’s book, dumped out an entire box of flashcards onto the floor, and fought hard against all my efforts to correct him. By fighting hard I mean yelling and yelling and running away and yelling. I had no energy to deal well with it.
I read somewhere that there are only two choices: selfish or generous. I like the sentiment, but as a parent of young children the lines between the two can get blurry.
Rob Bell was on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday recently (full episode here). She asked him to define prayer, and he said that prayer is Yes. That it’s a spiritual openness. It’s looking at your life and talking with God about it, and simply saying Yes to it.
It wasn’t only a rough day for parenting. Ricky and I are doing some pre-holiday Paleo, which means no sugar, and this was Day Two. Day One was all newness and excitement, but here on Day Two, things were not so pleasant. I had a throbbing tension headache and a foul attitude. Powerful drug, that sugar, and I was in withdrawal. Aimee was playing contentedly, but even the fact that she needed a few meals and diaper changes felt like too much to me. If I was alone, and were it an option, I probably would have spent the day in bed.
It wasn’t until the afternoon, as I took a shower while they napped, that I thought to say the Yes prayer.
What is it about showers and spiritual awakening? The stillness, maybe, or the way the water drowns out ambient noise, or the physical warmth running down sore shoulders. You can let loose if you need to, and cry out your frustrations, in the safety of the steam. Pain in my body. Disappointment in myself as a parent, again. A sense of hopelessness about how to make things better, again. Swirling down and around, mixing with warm cleansing water, gone.
Then, a nudge. You can say yes to all of this. I’ll help you. So I said yes, apprehensively, cried out some more toxic things, and then said yes again. It wasn’t easy, and I certainly didn’t want to, but here’s something I’ve learned: when the Divine nudges you to ask for help, you even get help with the asking. It’s that good.
I realize this may sound silly. No matter what, I was going to have to get out of that shower and carry on with my day. But I’ve found that there’s a difference between just getting by and stepping into an available fullness. It’s the difference between carrying an enormous burden on my own shoulders or allowing the Divine, who loves me, to take some of the weight off.
It takes bravery to ask for that kind of help. In my mind, and maybe in yours too, there’s always the terrifying possibility that nothing will happen.
I stepped out of the shower to realize that Silas wasn’t asleep, but downstairs gleefully pulling out paper and crayons. Yes. I brought the little stinker back to bed. My headache wasn’t gone. I took some ibuprofen, brewed some coffee, found a good podcast to listen to while it all kicked in. Yes. He came into the office, obviously not going to nap, not that day, no sir. But he wanted “upsies”, so we sat together there in the office chair, him all sweaty hair and milky skin and deep brown eyes. Almost three, battles of the will to come, but also just this moment. Yes. Peace threw her soft cloak over the room, and we rested. Yes.