Yep pride come before a fall. Definitely not feeling so proud of myself this morning. In fact this morning I am a spiky caterpillar. Tired, hungry, and not very pretty to look at.
It’s no secret that I struggle with the housework. It’s not so much that I don’t like doing it, it’s more that it is impossible to be the only one actively trying consistently in a house of six people. Whilst generally everyone is happy to help when asked, (except for Bailey and Bridie on occasion), it would be nice to not have to ask. For someone else to see the mess, or the dirt or the clutter, and just do something about it! (I should just take this moment to mention that Tim, upon seeing last night that I was so over ironing, offered to finish it for me. He is wonderful!)
So this morning I woke up to a dirty, untidy house. I was tired because Bridie was up with an ear infection last night, and I was already frustrated because from the moment I woke up I was aware of everything I want to accomplish today. But I was also realising that between school drop offs and pickups, play group, a trip to the shop for tomatoes, and an optometrist appointment for Bridie this afternoon, I probably won’t get anything done.
That’s not the best way to start the day.
I’ve been talking with Bridie lately about the importance of using kind words. I have noticed a bit of a nasty streak emerging. She loves a reaction, and whilst that has always been a cute little character quirk, it is beginning to show itself as something more sinister. In the last few days she has devastated Taylah, by saying she doesn’t like her hair cut, and reduced Bailey to tears by saying he looks like a girl. We have talked about what she should be saying, how words make us feel, and also about what the bible says. That there is life and death in the power of the tongue. The words we use can build people up, or tear them down.
And so this morning I completely ignored all my own advice, and yelled at everyone. The straw was a piece of chewing gum that one of the girls had knocked out of the fridge, and neglected to pick up, and which Ava found. I was not impressed (despite the fact that I did the same thing myself a week ago), and I made sure they knew it. Taylah was in tears when I called her lazy, and said her room smelt like poo, because she can’t be bothered emptying the nappy bin in there, and Bridie stood outside and cried after I had a go at her for emptying the sand out of her school shoes, all over the dining room floor.
Now in my defense, both of those offences were justifiably frustrating, but were they worth the shouted lecture? Probably not.
On the weekend the kids found a butterfly coming out if its cocoon. It spent a good portion of the day trying to free itself from its special home, and all of us at some point wanted to help. Of course we didn’t, as part of emerging as a butterfly is the struggle.
But when it was still there Sunday morning, I was kind of concerned. I’m not sure how true this is, but I have heard that butterfly’s only live for twenty four hours. It seems like such a waste really. Your whole life as a hungry caterpillar, then hibernation and a huge struggle to be free, so you can experience the joy of flying for a brief day before you die? No thanks. So the fact that this particular specimen was still attached to my desert rose made me think something wasn’t quite right. And if it was, he was wasting what precious hours he had.
In the afternoon, the problem revealed itself. Sitting on the pools edge with Tim watching the kids, I was there the moment the butterfly got free. In fact as he fluttered to the ground, it was almost like he was taking solitude in my shadow. I saw straight away that one of his wings were deformed, and he couldn’t fly as a result. Upon closer inspection of the cocoon I saw how it hadn’t freed itself properly; the wing was still attached, but not opened.
I have to admit, I was kind of devastated. To see what the caterpillar/butterfly had invested, and in the end it was just going to end up as bird food (probably) without ever having had the joy of flying, was very upsetting.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that life can be like that. All the preparation in the world can’t prepare you for what’s coming. Sometimes things just go wrong and we have no control over them.
And then again, sometimes we do. Like I’ve told Bridie repeatedly, our words have power. In a second we can strip away years of careful work. A careless word, or shouted phrase can mean that our little caterpillars grow up into butterfly’s that never reach their full potential.
Now I doubt that my little rant this morning has psychologically wounded my children for life, but it’s always good to stop and take stock. I can’t expect from my kids, what I myself am incapable of doing. That means that I need to set the cleaning standard, and be careful how I talk.
The bright side to this story, is that on Sunday night, there was another caterpillar happily munching my desert rose.
I didn’t move him. The plant will survive, and I didn’t want the world to be deprived of another beautiful butterfly.
But more than that, I saw in that little bug, the promise of God’s grace. Life goes one. You can start again. God covers all the mistakes and still brings beauty out of all our flaws.
I hope this caterpillar makes it. But more than that, I hope that I make it. That I can stop being an ugly, spiky mummy, and turn into something beautiful that captures my children’s hearts.
But I would like to live longer than a day.