The kids come in from playing outside and the table is set. I have spent the last few hours cooking and preparing. The hard service of love I once dreaded. Until by circumstance, it was taken away from me. Service is never more priceless than the point you realize you are at a place you cannot serve anyone. Since then, each dreadful slice, each sluggish minute, preparing, while others relax, while others play is the pure joy and thankfulness. As if somehow, my work can contribute to their happiness. As if somehow, this burden, unseen by others can lighten their load.
And the kids wash their hands and sit, ready to pray. But the two little ones, fighting, fighting. Holding hands is such a challenge. And we are hungry and tired and each argumentative word lingers and puts pressure on our temperment. But I can wait through this.
Then, the oldest child, the boy, grows angry with impatience. He orders the older of the girls to stop their fighting. And on top of fighting over holding hands, the older girl now becomes defiant.
He grows angrier still and is young and learning. He is learning that you can't force people to do anything but he is much older than her so he hasn't figured this out yet. And he doesn't understand why these rightful commands are so hard to follow.
His anger transforms into an ultimatum and he reaches across the table and hits and gets ready to hit her again.
And in a single moment, my mind flashes a thousand thoughts. I must protect her. Is this a hospital moment? But if I grab him, he loses his free will. And I am teaching him to control others forcefully. Is this a safe environment to experience consequences? Because I don't want his first mistakes to be out in the world.
"Hit me!", I yell out. It just came out. The kids all stop and stare at me. "Hit me." I say again. "Because when I see your anger it hurts me anyway. And when I see you kids fighting and I work so hard to prepare a meal to enjoy as a family, it hurts me anyway. And you are right about her behavior being uncalled for and inappropriate and if you feel the need for justification, let me pay the price. If the world I provide for you does not make you feel whole, because I have somehow fallen short in my parenting and you just don't have enough grace in your heart to give, then hit me."
My son, the unresolved anger in his heart, temporarily fades as my codependent tears trickle down my face.
And the girls stare in unbelief.
So much still to work through. But let's work through it togther. And the discussions start.
<SI> Scott Izu, PhD
© January 2015