I'd like to welcome Tamara Shoemaker to my blog, Behind Every Story. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet her on Goodreads. She's an inspiration to me and I'm sure she'll motivate others.
Today, my son decided that he was going to learn how to button his own shirt.
Today, I learned that it is virtually impossible to stop myself from butting in and “helping.”
My son just turned four, and up to this point, I have
always dressed him. I've chosen his clothes, pulled his shirt over his head, stuffed his arms through his sleeves, buttoned and zipped his khakis and slid his feet into socks. I've changed his diapers, wiped his bottom, combed his hair and tied his shoes.
Granted, I knew this day was coming, and if you had asked me a week ago, I'd have told you that I was actually looking forward to it. I couldn't wait till he was independent enough to do all those things by himself.
Freedom! Liberty! No longer am I strapped to the Velcro tabs of his Greater Value size 4 diapers. There is a whole world of little boy underwear out there that I will have nothing to do with! He can put it on by himself!
But today, as I helped my son slip his head through the neck-hole of his shirt, then push his arms through the sleeves, I reached for the three buttons on the front of his shirt to finish the job properly. He shoved my hands away. “No, Mommy. I wanta do it.”
“Oh,” I said in surprise, letting my hands fall helplessly into my lap. “Okay, go ahead.”
His little fingers struggled with the tiny buttons. All three of them were right under his chin, so his head tilted at an awkward angle to see what he was doing. The tip of his little pink tongue stuck just beyond the perimeter of his lips, his eyes crossed ever so slightly as he focused on the up-close project.
The first button took a good five minutes.
“Do you need any help, bud?” I asked.
“No.” He worked tirelessly on that button until, with a yank, it slid through the hole.
“Why don't you just leave the top two unbuttoned? You don't really need the shirt all the way closed.”
“No, I wanta.”
Deep breaths, Mama. This one was a little harder. The hole was smaller, and he struggled even more with this one.
“Just tell me if you need help, okay?”
A grunt for an answer was all I got. I had to look away. The impulse to reach over and help him was overpowering.
Finally, the last button. This one, he couldn't even see. It lay snugly underneath his chin, and every time he would stretch the shirt out to the point where he could focus on it, the button would slip out of his fingers. Over and over he tried, and over and over, that button stubbornly eluded his grasp.
“Come on, son, let's just leave it.” Irritation was evident in my voice. Relax, overprotective mom!
“No, don't help me,” he snapped.
I glanced at my watch. Fifteen minutes since the beginning of the button-journey. I had other pressing matters to attend to—grabbing a glass of milk, checking email, finishing that chapter, obviously much more important things to do than watching my son struggle with his buttons.
I started to think about the deadline I had set myself for the novel I am currently writing. I wanted to finish the first draft in another three weeks, and if I don't get my allotted two thousand words in per day, it may not happen. I've been pretty good about not letting the stress get to me, but when I think of my personal deadlines, it has a way of leaking through. Or gushing through. Whichever.
I tend to worry about my chosen career a lot. Will my books sell? What if nobody likes them? What if I get a one-star review? How can I market my books better? How can I get a “break-out moment?” Will I be able to
make enough income off of this to work from home and still help with our family's expenses? How do I come up with new ideas? What if I should stick with the old ideas? What if the subject matter doesn't appeal to readers? Etc.
My brother owned a Labrador at one point. I remind myself of that dog. Tail wagging, ever eager-to-please. Pant, pant, pant, you want the ball? I'LL GO GET IT FOR YOU! You want to go for a walk? LET ME GO WITH YOU! You need your face washed? LET ME LICK IT FOR YOU! Don't like your shoes? I'LL EAT THEM FOR YOU!
Do you ever get light bulb moments? You know, where the invisible light bulb that travels around above your head magically switches on when a brainwave hits you? Suddenly . . . brilliance in spades!
At that exact point in time, I had a light bulb moment.
So often, I allow the stress of my own personal decisions, my silly deadlines, my drama-induced perspectives to take over my world as I see it. I go, I do, I spazz, I fidget, I fret, I cry. I wonder how often God sits there and asks, “Can I help?”
And in my own petty, childish, I-wanta moments, I jerk my frustrations out of God's hands and say, “No! Me! I can do this by myself!”
What patience He must have to sit back and watch me struggle. And fret. And fume. How he must long to reach over and button that last button.
And when I finally let go of my own expectations or the expectations of those around me and accept the help that God is so willing and able to give, I realize that all the struggle is so pointless. He's got my back, just like I've got my son's.
He lets me make my mistakes, just as I let my son make his. Why? So I can learn just how much I really needed God's help all along.
She lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband and three young children. She writes fantasies and Christian thrillers between diaper changes and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. To find out more about her work, "like" her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter or check out her blog.
Thanks Tamara for such a delightful story. I think we all can relate. I know there are times I don't wait on God as I should, thinking I can do it, but I can't. I need the Lord each day.