Monday, October 14, 2013

Hemming and Scribbling

It's been a while since I've sewn anything, but we have guests coming in from out of town and I want the room to have a fresh look. I have a pair of white curtains and all they require is some shortening and a straight hem. It shouldn't take me too long. I gather up all the necessary sewing equipment and set to work. I'm not too worried about hemming curtains, but my sewing is rusty and I am not about to plunge into this with any illusions. The first curtain seems to be going rather smoothly. I finish it and run to the garage to show it to my husband. I'm proud of my hemming. It feels a little silly, but I'm halfway done. A half an hour later the second curtain is finished.

"Come see, honey! I'm going to hang them up!"

I slide the now shorter curtains onto the curtain rod and step back to admire the new look.

"I put it on backwards! The hem is facing the wrong way... Wait..."

I hadn't put the curtain on backwards, I'd sewn the hem backwards. It's almost midnight and I now have to rip out the seam and sew a new one in. It's really not a big deal, but I'm aggravated. Especially because it feels like something so simple and yet, I bungled it.

After another forty five minutes or so the curtain is re-hemmed and ready to hang. I'm tired, but happy to drape the curtain up knowing that it's finished and the room is bright and ready for people we love to come and visit.

In this house with 6 separate personalities there is a constant learning curve happening on six different levels. Every day we're all learning new skill sets. We're all constantly learning an assortment of things, from sewing, to reading, being gentle, table manners, or for the four month old learning how to sit up for the first time.

Patience though, that is something that all six of us are either beginning or continuing to learn. I don't believe it is a craft that you can ever tune finely enough.

Patience with yourself. The kind of patience that allows you to make mistakes, and persevere.

Patience with others. Allowing people to make their own decisions and mistakes. Refraining from chastisement or discouragement.

She drew all down the railing tonight with crayon. Little black scribbles all the way down from the second floor to the first. When the crayon marks were discovered, she realized what she'd done was not good immediately by reading the expressions on my face and my husband's. We could have just cleaned it up and sent her to bed (she was already being moved in that direction anyway), but rather than fix her mistake for her we told her to clean it up. I found a sponge and then with some help from her daddy (she is only two after all), she worked on rubbing off the crayon marks she had made.

She was extraordinarily excited to use the sponge. I initially thought that perhaps her excitement to clean meant that she may try this type of artwork again and that maybe the selected punishment was an ill fit. However, after a lot of scrubbing and encouragement from us at her efforts to wipe off the marks she'd made, I realized that the punishment was effective.

Who knows, she may try to color on the walls with crayon again. Not infrequently people make the same faux pas twice. I'm not expecting anything unrealistic. If she colors on the wall again, we'll just have to guide her down the path of cleaning up her mess again, because sometimes life gets messy.

As a mom, that's my job and honestly sometimes I forget it. My job isn't to take care of only my children's basic needs, but to guide them down a path that can be chaotic and confusing for a little one learning about their world. What may seem simple to me such as putting shoes on the right feet or sharing a swing with a sibling is not as straightforward to someone who is still learning the ropes of life. The patience I have in dealing with these basic situations very much plays a part in who my children are going to become.

I often think of two jobs that I had. At face value they were similar, but they were very different behind the scenes. I did essentially the same thing at both places, but at one I had bosses who treated me with kindness and patience, calmly explaining how to solve problems that would arise and speaking to me respectfully. Contrariwise at the other place when I'd make a mistake I was inevitably always taken aside and told what I was doing wrong and lectured on how to do my job better. I felt disrespected and flustered. Eventually I put in my two weeks and decided to stop doing that type of work permanently. There was such a sour taste in my mouth due to the constant chastisement that I had no desire to continue down that road.

Whether the situation I'm encountering requires patience with myself or with others there's always that choice. Do I flip the switch and put my exasperation away, or do I give in to my humanness and show how much this situation has inconvenienced me?

I don't believe it's an easy road to tread, nor one that I have much experience with. I feel encouraged though to know that there is so much at my fingertips with which to arm myself. One of the many scriptures that I love speaks volumes about patience and the force that it is.

"Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city."
Proverbs 16:32

Life isn't neat and tidy with perfect curtains and immaculately white railings. There are bound to be crooked hems. There are likely to be fingerprints dusting the surface of everything. We live here and where there is life, there is debris. To have a perfect life would be to not experience anything worthwhile. It's what we choose to do with the mess of our life that can make it or break it. I think, in my life I'd rather be a patient person than a warrior. 

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