I wondered what was taking so long.
I was waiting for Micah to change into his uniform in the baseball field bathroom. It was one of the first games of the season and he couldn't wait to get on the field.
So why was he taking longer to get dressed than my teenage daughter?!
After what seemed like an eternity, he finally emerged, looking upset and clutching his pants at the waist.
Hey, buddy, I said. What's wrong? Do you need help with your belt?
No! I don't have my belt! I can't find it!
Gulp. I was sure we had packed it in the bag that morning. "Well, maybe we left it in the van," I said, trying to make my voice sound cheery to mask that I was in internal "freakout" mode.
We made a mad dash to the vehicle, but came up empty. And the game started in 10 minutes. I did the math. It would take at least 20 minutes for me to get home and back to the game. If all the lights were green. And if I could find the belt immediately. And no one cut me off in traffic. Hmmm... not lookin' good.
It doesn't work to your advantage to have smart kids in these situations. Micah had done the math, too, and he was in a full-out panic.
I'll never make it in time for the game! I'll miss the game! This is awwwwfulll!!
To add insult to injury, we realized we didn't have his hat, either.
The hat he could live without, but playing with no belt brought to mind disturbing imagery of the crowd seranading my boy with a rousing rendition of "Pants on the Ground, Pants on the Ground, looking like a fool with your pants on the ground..."
I must save him from this cruel fate. I told him to run and tell his coach what had happened and that I'd be back with a belt as soon as humanly possible.
I'm not going to say that I broke the speed limit. I'm simply not going to say that.
Weary, stressed, but triumphantly clutching the prized belt, I ran to the dugout. Thanks, Mom, but you're too late. Since I wasn't ready, I got moved from 2nd in the lineup to last. And someone else had an extra belt they let me borrow a few minutes ago.
I had the right equipment, but the moment had passed. I'd missed an opportunity to provide him with something he needed.
I find that can easily happen in parenting. Our kids give us opportunties all the time to present them with things they need -- patience, wisdom, direction, to name a few.
But sometimes I'm not prepared to give it. I'm preoccupied with other concerns, weighed down by events of the day, tired, rundown, out of gas.
Other times, I don't recognize when my kids are presenting me with a golden "2nd in the lineup" kind of opportunity to provide them with something vitally important.
I've found that there's a few things I need on a regular basis to be prepared for all the constant demands of parenting:
1.) Time with God. I can always tell when I've gone a few days without really spending some time praying and studying His Word. I lose perspective. I get worried, fearful. I act out of my emotions. That's a dangerous place to be.
2.) Sleep/Rest. Regular sleep is important, but times of rest and refueling are just as important. I just came home from an awesome writing conference, but I was exhausted. Even good stress and activity can be draining. I soon found myself irritable and impatient. As my eloquent and brutally honest teenage daughter said, "I hope you feel better. You're kind of turning into Psycho Mom." Thanks, honey.
3.) A team approach. When my husband and I are communicating and spending time connecting, I can FEEL that support. Working as a team fills me up and helps me feel more prepared for the unexpected things that happen in parenting. (And let's face it, what's not unexpected?)
Being prepared for the game of parenting doesn't always guarantee victory, but it's definitely half the battle.
How about you? What things help you prepare for parenting's ups and downs?