So, it’s been two years since I’ve visited “Life – It’s a Work In Progress”. Not because I haven’t had anything to share, but because life’s been too busy… well… progressing. A lot has happened, a lot hasn’t happened, and things are so very different than they were two years ago when I last wrote here.
There are a few things that haven’t changed, however – and not all of them should have stayed as they were. My attitude, for instance…
A few months ago, my 19-year-old said, “Mom, what’s the difference between frustration and irritation?” He’s full of questions like that. It used to irritate me, but now I’m eager to go look up the answer together. The answers are always interesting, like the answer to this one:
- Frustrated – feeling or expressing distress and annoyance, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.
- Irritated – showing or feeling slight anger; annoyed.
Basically, one is annoyance because of circumstances, while the other is annoyance because of people. Both, though, are because of things that you can’t change. Or at least, not yet.
People, People, Everywhere
I live in a house with nine other people, ranging from the ages of 2 years to 74 years old. I work in a house with nine other people. I sleep in a house with nine other people.
- There is no privacy.
- There is no peace.
- There is no quiet.
- There is no me time.
I always thought working at home would be a great thing. I could make money for my family to live and be there for my kids. Not only would we have a closer bond, but they wouldn’t grow up with a babysitter. Win-win… win! Right?
As I write this blog post, I have a toddler trying to sneak into my lap to nurse.
My parents just left the kitchen. The last thing my mother said was, “I just saw… Shut up, Linda, she’s trying to work.” Because, no, that doesn’t make me feel bad at all.
A little while ago, my oldest was in here, pounding his feet on the floor to the beat of whatever band he was listening to. I’m sure it was out of some misguided idea that the constant pounding would help soothe me into the zen mode of work. Yes. Of course.
And four people aren’t even around right now.
Sometimes I want to scream, “Everybody. SHUT. UP!”
But Who’s the Real Problem, Here?
Over the last little bit, we’ve been being pounded with “don’t be easily offended” sermons at our church. The idea is that taking offense is a selfish thing, because it’s about someone upsetting you.
That’s an easy idea when it’s something like a person calling you names, or someone cutting you off in traffic. It’s all “boom, in your face,” and you can quickly choose to just blow it off. That’s the irritation part of offense, right?
But then there’s frustration. It’s made me really think about frustration in a whole new light.
I mean, I’m working for my family. Is it really a selfish thing to want quiet to be able to get the job done? I can’t pay the bills if I can’t get the job done, right?
Darned if I can get myself to accept that reasoning. You might disagree, but I don’t think God fried people in the Old Testament because He was frustrated with them. I think it was more along the lines of teaching lessons.
And then the New Testament throws Galatians 5 at me:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
I’m good until we get to the “peace” and “longsuffering” and “self-control” and “gentleness” part.
I guess “Shut up” isn’t very peaceful or gentle. And I guess exploding in a rage doesn’t show much self-control… and God’s had to deal with me a lot longer than the ten minutes I had to deal with a nursing child…
And since it doesn’t say “their longsuffering” or “their self-control”, then it must be talking about mine. Which means it’s me. I’m the problem.
Lessons Learned – Getting Rid of Frustration
If admitting that there is a problem is the first step, I must be on the second – figuring out how to fix it.
I can’t change the situation. I have no other place for an office, and working outside the home is not an option with our family dynamics. So, I’m stuck here, working in the kitchen at my laptop, listening to the noise of nine other people, as well as the T.V., the toddler’s new singing baby doll that some sadist gave her (thanks, Kirsten!), and a guitar that one of the boys is currently playing.
Maybe the key is the first fruit of the spirit: love. Is it possible that I get so wrapped up in myself and what I’m doing (no matter the underlying reason) that I become the most important person in my world? Have I forgotten how much I love my family? Has familiarity really bred contempt (which, by the way, is “disregard for something that should be taken into account,” according to Webster’s)?
I think my priorities have shifted in the wrong direction again. Let me rewrite the beginning…
I live in a warm house with nine other people. These people are full of love and laughter:
Marykaye is two, and loves to dance. She also loves to sing at the top of her lungs, and knows that Daddy’s food tastes best.
Justice is ten, and also loves to sing. She also loves to write, and writes wonderful stories about friendly dinosaurs and ponies and rainbow.
Cameron is fifteen, and is full of good (and bad) jokes. He loves to make people laugh, and has worked at it since he found out that there was such a thing as a “sense of humor”.
Dev’Lan is nineteen, and loves to learn. He looks up words just to find out what they mean; not even so he can use them – but just for the sheer joy of knowing. He’s the first person to ever call me “Mother”.
Brannoch is twenty-one, and loves family. He gives hugs like some people give handshakes: gladly and with much abandon. You don’t ever have to wonder if he means it. He obviously does.
Becky is forty, and loves babies – even mine. Unless they get in her blocks. She has no guile; she has no pretense. What you see is really what you get. If she’s happy, she’s really happy. If she’s not, she’s really not.
Jay is fifty-four, and loves to laugh. His whole face lights up when he’s happy. He also loves his family, and continually steps out of his comfort zone to be near them.
Mom is seventy, and loves to work with her hands: crocheting, sewing, knitting, messing with pipe cleaners. She enjoys making beautiful things, and works hard, when she can, to make sure the people she loves have those beautiful things.
Dad is seventy-four, and loves to work. He’s spent his life working hard for his family, fixing things, making things, making life better for his family. He’d give the shirt off his back if he thought it’d make a difference, and sometimes even when he knows it won’t.
The nine other people in this house are wonderful people. Fascinating people, and important in their own right. They’re family, and we all work together to make this house a home.
Thank you, Father, for so much love in one house!