Do you ever feel like diving for cover when you hear the school bus pull up outside your house?
I sometimes do. Bracing myself for the drama, I toss something in the oven for supper, flop on the couch with the dog and a cold glass, and paste a smile on my face, trying not to think of all the work I still need to do that evening.
If it’s been a particularly arduous workday, I turn on my ER reruns and try to decompress a bit before the door slams. But I may need to rethink that strategy.
This morning a paragraph from one of the readings leaped out at me:
I will walk with a blameless heart within my house;
I will not set before my eyes whatever is base (Ps 101).
Now, the psalmist didn’t have access to ER reruns, but he knew a lot about human nature. He understood the temptation to find a handy “escape” from the realities of life. And yet, life has a way of breaking through.
Nine times out of ten, my R&R is interrupted by the sound of teenagers quarreling — doors slamming, glass breaking, high-pitched demands for snacks. You know, life. And more often than not, my response is less than maternal — loud, self-centered, and irritated beyond words.
I feel justified in my outrage, of course. They are perfectly capable of getting a snack or drink, and coming to settle in next to me for a chat. Or better yet, go with me to walk the dogs.
On the other hand… “I will walk with a blameless heart within my house.” Am I truly blameless in the drama that ensues? Isn’t it just possible that by escaping into reruns, I am unwittingly putting up a “keep out” sign — and my kids, who haven’t seen me all day, express their legitimate need for my full attention, any way they can be sure to get it?
In Psalm 101, the psalmist connects the dots between what I see and who I become. As an adult, I manage my own time and can decide if some “down time” is in order. As a mother, I must also consider what my actions are saying to my two high-anxiety, stressed-out teens. When they see me, how do they feel? Welcomed … or tolerated? Relaxed … or nagged? Loved … or lectured?
Who have I become to them? Is it the person I want to be?