You remember the movie "It's a Wonderful Life.”
The story is told of George, who has big dreams and plans for his life that go beyond his home town of Bedford Falls. But before he knows it, he's married with kids and tied tightly to the family business, ensuring that he'll never leave Bedford Falls. The kicker is, even when the war hits and all the other young men go off to fight for their country, George can't go. Because of a bad ear, he's "left behind to fight the battle of Bedford Falls."
Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that our precious, little miracles are like having a bad ear -- I'm just saying I know how George felt.
George had to stay behind and maintain the mundane. He had to take care of the daily-ness of life. He had to trudge through the same tasks day after day. And just when he was convinced that he was going to drown in the mire of common life, he realized (with a little help from above) that fighting the battle of Bedford Falls is really what made his life wonderful.
Trite? Well, maybe, but it works in the movie. And I am determined that it can work for me as well. All it would take is a divine change in perspective.
Parenting is more than making the lunches the night before, only to have to make them again the next night. Parenting is more than facing one pile of laundry after another. Isn't it? I mean, parenting -- although rich in repetitive tasks -- is by no means boring.
Even on the days when constant activity leads to nowhere, there are built-in boredom busters. Who hasn't had a leaky diaper in church or a temper-tantrum in a restaurant? Who hasn't been at Walmart putting the toilet paper in the cart, only to look up and find your kid is nowhere in sight? Who hasn't been told by your teenager, "Stop it, mom, you're embarrassing me," and all you're doing is standing in the kitchen?
Without these wonderful interruptions of real life, parenting could teeter on the brink of unbearable and the mundane could easily overcome every one of us.
There will always be days when I feel like I've been left behind to fight the battle of Bedford Falls. But the truth is if I hadn't stayed behind I would have missed the incredible insight of my thirteen-year-old daughter recently.
One night we were discussing a particularly painful incident that had affected our family, leaving all of us feeling rather ostracized. As we were talking and digesting the unexpected hurt, I expressed my concern that sometimes when facing difficult situations, we all have a tendency to ‘act’ hurt. I wanted to discuss how we could avoid “being offended” and instead live from a place of loving-kindness and compassion. Before the discussion even began, her smile took me by surprise.
“What?” I asked.
“We’re not going to act hurt.” She assured me.
“How do you know?”
“Because our family’s not cookie cutter.”
Maybe I'm not being left behind at all. Maybe resisting the cookie-cutter responses of the world with my thirteen-year-old is what makes my life wonderful.