"The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip." Genesis 32:31
I forgot Ellie's birthday. No, not just the time the pediatrician's office asked so that they could look up her records, I do that with all of them, even myself on occasion. I am talking about the preschool day closest to her birthday. I show up with Ellie in tow and the teacher asks if I have brought any special treats to celebrate her birthday with her friends.
"Uh, no." I had checked birthday off of my list on Saturday, when we celebrated with family and opened presents and had cake. It never occurred to me that we needed an encore. Now in my defense, my first two kids had summer birthdays so "party at preschool" had never been on my radar screen.
The teacher looked at me like I was pitiful. And really, I guess it was pretty bad.
I ran to the CVS across the street and picked up some Mrs. Field's cookies (hey, those are a treat at our house) and some Bounty napkins slightly decorated with butterflies because they did not have any actual party supplies at the drug store. I got back over there well before snack time and I am sure that Ellie did not even notice.
No one wants to be the "limper". The one who slows the party down because they can't keep up, or who just gets left behind altogether. The thing is, this time around parenting in particular, I am that person.
I am just not able to keep up with all of the ins and outs of every one's lives, even in just my own family. I don't remember everything going on in the two different preschool classes, much less in the college ones.
I am not going to be any body's homeroom mother anytime soon.
I rush to sign up to bring the paper products for the class parties because, hey, who knows what next week is going to look like and I don't want to be responsible for baking something and getting it there. Plates and cups, however, can be brought in just as soon as you sign up and then you don't even have to try to remember what day the party is!
No, I don't want to be the one holding up the crowd, or the one left behind while everyone else runs ahead.
I don't like being the "not liked by the teacher" parent, and I am.
I would rather be pulled together and on top of things.
I would rather be different.
But, when you hang back, when you are not keeping up, you find that actually, you aren't alone after all! I am finding that there are others back here with me. Other people whose lives are not going so smoothly, or who just do not have the energy to rally for another race to no where.
Other people who were dealt a far more difficult hand than I .
I don't think I would have met these people, I am not even sure I noticed them before.
And this has put a lot more mercy in my little mind than use to be there.
When your child is acting up in the grocery store my assumption is not that you just can't be consistent in your parenting. When you are feeding them junk food through the entire trip to keep the peace, I am not thinking that you are contributing to their long-term demise. When they are dressed in shorts and a t-shirt in January, I don't think of you as negligent.
I am proud of you for remembering their shoes.
I am bringing my two at lunch time so that we can eat through the entire trip, stopping at the deli first to get some turkey.
I am trying to send you a look of sympathy, but understand completely why your eyes aren't meeting mine. I just wish I could tell you, "hang in there, I am limping too and if I look pretty good today, it is a fluke, I assure you".
Jacob finishes his life renamed by God, reunited with his brother, restored and redeemed with his father. He is blessed with children and their wives and grandchildren that numbered 70 in total when they moved to Egypt. God had his hand in his life, even during the limping years, maybe even especially during those years.
And that gives me great hope, for all of us who are falling off of the jungle gym on the playground of life.
"Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen, and they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly. And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. So the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were 147 years." Genesis 47:27-28