She has dark circles under eyes, but doesn’t want to go to bed. As we snuggle and finish our book, she leans in and it begins. I see her blink quickly and the back of her sweet hand brushes her eyes. Little things trigger it today. “Mama, I opened the fridge and I missed Matt.” A bit perplexed, I asked why. She went on to explain that the “special” apple juice I got just for him was still there, and she wished he was here to finish it. Funny how one, mostly empty container of juice could trigger a flood of emotion.
Often in life, it’s the reminders that get to us. Reminder of good or bad times, takes your pick. 24 hours ago, our house was filled with laughter and giggles and pillow fights. Tonight, well, tonight reminders snuck in and tried to steal the joy that should have been lingering in our house for just a bit longer.
I haven’t shared my 2014 #oneword yet, but it is PERSPECTIVE. We can chose to focus on the nearly empty container of apple juice in the fridge and the reminder of a big brother who is missed, or we can celebrate the many memories made over his break with us.
Today, we sat, gathered at a Perkins, with the whole family. I’m a step mom, and so the whole family means things get a little “bigger” than they already are at the Sandbulte house. Matt’s mom and step dad were there, along with Tom and I, and the “siblings.”
Perspective today was that it’s about the kids, always has been, and hopefully always will be. Differences were set aside, and we all breathed in final moments of laughter and hugs. Matt was able to sit at the table with his family, all of us, in one spot. And his face revealed how much it meant to him.
About half way through, Emma found her way to my lap, and we played patty cake. Mostly because her tears were coming and she couldn’t blink fast enough so we needed to divert them for a bit. As our hands clicked and clapped, and she giggled, I saw him sneaking peaks at her. Those big brother eyes taking on one more glimpse of her giggles and sweet 7 year old silliness. #perspective
We drove away in separate cars, and the little’s reminded me of my own words… “That’s one less goodbye that we’ll have to say mom.” Each time their emotion is a bit different and comes at different times. And when it comes, we focus on perspective. Matt has to say goodbye and miss ALOT of people. We just have to say goodbye and miss him. And then we pray. #Perspective.
Tonight, after Emma had drifted off to sleep, I opened the fridge. And there it was, that silly apple juice. As I looked at it, thoughts of the military families who have lost their son or daughter, some from our hometown hit me with a sting. They endure reminders much bigger, knowing that on this side of heaven, they will not see their son again. Suddenly, #perspective took on new meaning.
As our Marine floats away on a Navy boat in a few short weeks, we will look back and treasure the memories made over his Christmas Vacation. And I promise, as we look back, we won’t think – jeez I wish I wouldn’t have gone to breakfast that morning. NOPE – we’ll be so glad we did. We’ll be glad that even though the kids are 24 and 26, both “sides” still put on our big people pants and do the right thing for them. We stand together for pictures and sit at the table because we love them. And that is all that matters.
Being divorced, or being a step parent isn’t easy. Let’s face it; it is often down right hard. But if we dig deep, and ask ourselves how to be like Jesus, well, often the answer involves a great deal of humility.
In Psalm 133 we read
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
God calls us to live in unity. Notice it doesn’t say agreement. I think that just as much as God hates divorce, he hates the squabbling that goes on afterwards. He hates to see kids suffer because their parents can’t get along. He desires unity in families. Normal married families, divorced families, single parents, etc. All in all, on both sides of our “family” we’ve tried. (Notice I say tried, if I’m real, we have not always succeeded!) It’s hard right.
But, tonight I feel like this is for someone out there. Maybe you’re struggling. Maybe you’re a step parent, or maybe you’re divorced. Whatever the case, remember this… It’s all about #perspective. And when you are frustrated and complaining, what if you stop and look at things through the eyes of your child… or better yet, Jesus.
We have a son in the military. It changes your #perspective. Heaven forbid we would ever get that “call.” I don’t think we would ever look back and say – wow, I wish we would have argued a bit more with his mom. NOPE! Because he goes into higher risk situations, you process a bit differently. Reality is this; none of us know the day or the hour. Period. So, instead of the arguing or bad mouthing, stop and ask the big what if. What if the kids that you are spending so much time arguing over breathe their last breath? What you wish you had done more of?