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Finding The Happy

Looking for joy in all the right places

Date

19 April 2012

TTT – Good masters, good memory, good weather

It’s been such a long time since I’ve done a Thursday’s Three Thank-you, I know. And it’s not like I haven’t felt thankful since The Big C hit our shores. I think I’ve mentioned the scores of silver linings our recent trip illuminated, even while Tony and I struggled with roller coaster emotions, and a teething, jetlagged baby.

But I’ll admit, I’ve struggled to care enough to write about the blessings. Some days, my prayers feel like, “Oh my Holy God, why crazy cancer?! But thank you that my strep throat’s a lot better, and that you took care of last week’s baby-sniffles too. Amen.”

Gratitude, when up against intense angst and supplication, can feel a lot like emptying a leaky boat with a tablespoon.

Still – it’s good to give breath and words to grateful shivers. And I know that I’m being quite facetious – there really is a lot to my life for the heart to smile about. And so I bring you this week’s list.

1. Job masters that care.

It’s only natural for children who live interstate or overseas from family that they feel intense guilt, no matter which side of the equator their hearts or feet lie. And I spent quite a pretty sum of time in Singapore wondering if I had inadvertently made things Very Complicated by choosing a new life in Australia. It’s self-pity, I know. And completely counter-productive. Speculating over coulda/shoulda/woulda manages to achieve very little AND throw sand in God’s face. But I wonder all the same if I’d sold out on my mother, by casting my future with The Good Man from Australia.

And yet, it’s precisely because we live and work in Canberra that we were able to drop everything and run back to Singapore at a moment’s notice. Such a perfect blend of timing and situation meant that I could be with family during my extended maternity leave, and that Tony was able to take a month’s leave with little warning or certainty. I’m so, so glad we both have compassionate employers who are serious about work-life balance… and who are enlightened enough to understand which is the greater of the two.

2. Creating memories

One thing I found sorely lacking in recent moments of bewilderment and fear was the effortless recollection of scripture. It’s been ages since I’ve committed the odd verse or two to memory, let alone whole chapters. I can paraphrase many concepts and roughly tell you who I thought said what, where… but when the heart wilts, it needs to call on reserves. Doubly hard to do when the smartphone is dead or has no 3G reception.

So since last Sunday, I’ve started memorising scripture verses. My aim is to memorise a verse or two a week. I figure I need a whole week for the verses to worm their way into my intermediate and long-term memory, so it becomes so reflexive that I don’t need to focus on the individual word order anymore, but dwell on its meaning and comfort instead. I’ve also deliberately chosen translations that are more contemporary, to keep the cobwebs away. Some scripture verses have been quoted so often in KJV, ASV or even NIV, that I’ve lost sight of their beauty through rote and overfamiliarity.

I’m grateful for the wake up call, and the boot up the bottom. Long overdue.

3. Staying alive

Arddun and I were driving home this afternoon from the mall, when the heavens opened and we got caught in the hugest deluge of water I’d ever experienced.

Ever.

Do you know what driving on an expressway is like when you cannot see? Petrifying. And it wasn’t like the rain had built up over time so I saw it coming. Oh no. It was sudden, it was vicious, and when it hit our little car, it scared the living crap out of me.

This is why I need to memorise more scripture texts, because the only thing I was able to recite over and over in my head was the 23rd Psalm. Which is a great piece of scripture. If I were herding sheep. Or being accosted on all sides by nefarious men wearing dark cloaks and twirling thin mustaches.

So here I was, crawling across the expressway half blindly, trying to make out where I could stop safely on the side in peak hour traffic, while muttering to myself

The Lord is my Shepherd… I shall not want… He makes me lie down in green pastures – THAT I CANNOT SEE, LORD! He leads me beside quiet waters – QUIET WATERS, LORD! – He restores my soul. He guides me through paths of righteousness… or roads… if you could mark my lane a little clearer for me, thanks… for His name’s sake… and even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death… or Gungahlin Drive Extension… I will fear no evil… ; Nope, nothing relevant. Okay… let’s start over.

The Lord is my Shepherd… I shall not want… The Lord is my Shepherd.

He leadeth me. Or rather, we drove through the craziness and into Gungahlin proper, where there were patches of blue sky to behold and the mighty rain dried to a drizzle. And Arddun didn’t seem to notice the difference either way, because she had been chatting to herself and her toes. And my heartbeat finally slowed. And I was SO thankful. I am so thankful.

Crack up

Caught this video on Mommy Shorts this evening, and just had to share the love.

I have to admit that I cried with silent laughter through most of the video because something akin to dread mingled with ironic mirth while whispering, this is my new life.

Because yes, Before Child, a video like this would have made me itch to smack the child, the parents, or both. Tantrums, I had decided in my BC days, were purely a reflection of pathetic parenting.

But now that I’m this much closer to growing a tanty tot of my own, there is – I’ll admit – some degree of foreboding.

And it’s not that I condone tantrums, or think that histrionics and disobedience are cute. But the pursuit of self-control ain’t exactly peaches, is it. Adults crack up all the time. And I am absolutely masterful at throwing tanties. I am an eyeball-roller. A scowler. A raise-my-voice-and-blame-someone-else-er. Take it up a notch, and I turn into door-slammer and use-hot-words-to-tear-off-flesh-from-back-er.

Not quite the embodiment of self-control, no.

The truth is that everyone reaches a tipping point, and toddlers are no exception. Arddun is all smiles, bouncy-bouncy-bouncy… and then she falls off some invisible cliff at about 6.00pm and suddenly, she’s inconsolable when she bumps into cotton wool. Arches her back, screams blue murder, all of it.

She’s tired, she’s grumpy, and she doesn’t have a vocabulary beyond “Boo” and “Daddeeee” to communicate her troubles effectively. I know it doesn’t give her license to turn into a banshee, and we’re still drawing the boundaries on what acceptable tired behaviour is and isn’t. But the road to attaining self-control is looooong… and until she reaches sainthood, I’m thinking there will be days ahead when putting away a dinner bowl at day’s end becomes my child’s metaphor for, “My eyelids are heavy and I just can’t take this day anymore. Please carry me to bed.”

Deep breath.

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