self-reliance

Wake-up Call

One of our kittens, Bart,  is developing a very nasty habit of sitting outside our bedroom door at 6 am and howling while clawing the carpet to bits in an attempt to get us to wake up and come out or at least let him into the bedroom. The first time he did this was last Saturday morning, our greatly-anticipated chance to sleep in. Not only was he loud and obnoxious, but I obviously didn’t want him tearing up the carpet, so my husband got up and put him into the bathroom and closed the door. Our apartment is very small and the bathroom door is directly across a narrow hallway from our bedroom door. Bart then began to hurl his body repeatedly against the bathroom door, making more noise than he had been before. After a few minutes of that we had to let him out of the bathroom where he became so emotionally distraught that he threw up on the carpet.  Needless to say, we did not get to sleep in. In fact, Bart’s ridiculous behavior inexplicably launched me into a complete emotional meltdown.

I found myself lying in bed, sobbing in frustration at this stupid little kitten who just wouldn’t shut up and let me sleep. And after I started crying, I found that I couldn’t stop. As I sobbed my way through the morning, I thought, “Why am I being so emotional? Am I going crazy?” followed quickly by, “Am I pregnant?!” which launched me into further, gut-wrenching sobs–If the cat waking me up caused this kind of trauma, imagine my response to a baby doing it every night for like 6 months straight!

I kept trying to figure out what the problem was…clearly I was not really that emotionally distraught over the cat. Annoyed and frustrated, yes, but not overwhelmed with emotion. I came up with a few things that I had been upset about over the past week or so, but really none of them mattered that much to me. I kept trying and trying to verbalize something I didn’t even understand. My sweet husband sat with me, let me cry, and tried to encourage me until I had finally worn myself out, still not really knowing what the problem was.

It took me until yesterday, 4 days later, to figure it out. Last Friday (the day before my meltdown) we had heard a rumor that Ohio State would be notifying the applicants who were accepted into their MFA program that evening. Both my husband and I are beyond ready to find out where he will be accepted and where we might end up next year. The Ohio State program was the first one to notify and if he were accepted into it we would be able to relax a little knowing we had at least one option. As Friday passed we both grew more and more anxious. By Friday evening we were both so restless we decided to go out. We went to dinner and then a movie and didn’t hear anything. By the time we went to bed we were both feeling a bit of a letdown from all of the expectation.

I was frustrated. I was frustrated that we didn’t hear anything and disappointed that the rumors had apparently been false. If I’m going to be honest though, I was more frustrated that I couldn’t control it. There was not a single thing I could do that would change the situation. I couldn’t make any of those schools make the decision I wanted. I couldn’t control how soon they made the decision or when they told us about it. We have to wait and no matter how much I hate that, I can’t do anything about it. And Saturday morning when Bart was intent on waking us up at 6 I hated it, and yet was powerless to stop him. And I couldn’t stand the feeling anymore. I exploded.

One of the things I am constantly reminding Sami of when I’m nannying is that she is not in charge. Whether she’s bossing Dylan around or trying to assert her opinion about whether or not it’s time to clean up, she’s needs to be reminded that she is not in charge. It isn’t something she likes being reminded of and sometimes when I ask her, “Sami, who’s in charge?” she will smile mischievously and say, “Me.” But no matter how much she wants it to be true, I am still the one who decides what we are having for lunch and when. I decide when it’s naptime and what activities we are going to do that day. When we go to the library, Sami chooses books and then I read through all of them and decide which ones we’ll take home with us.

It’s so silly to me when Sami tries to assert that she is in charge, contrary to all evidence. And yet, I see a great deal of myself in her. In my own, perhaps more subtle way, I have also been trying to assert control over things that I am simply not in control of and was never meant to be. And I wonder if God looks at me the way I look at Sami–smiling to himself a little at how silly this little girl is being, who thinks she can control things by sheer willpower in spite of the fact that all of her days are held in his hand.

This morning when Bart woke me up at (thank goodness!) 7:30 I was greeted by a stunning visual reminder of a simple, powerful truth. Outside my window were snowdrifts from last night’s blizzard piled up 4 feet high against the glass and I thought, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”