And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good… Romans 8:28
For years, the after school hours in my house have been a disaster. I often share my complaint with other moms, hoping they have the same problem (Misery loves company.). When they look at me with confusion, I feel like a failure.
When someone tells a story that falls flat, they default to the phrase, “I guess you had to be there.” When I try to explain our after school chaos, I default to, “I guess you have to live in my house to understand.”
Zack and Mason have a bond like I’ve never seen before. Not only do they mind-meld and finish each other’s sentences, but they have this back-and-forth banter like a comedy routine. In fact, my husband has coined the phrase, “The Zack and Mason Show” to describe it.
Although their little show can be amusing, when it’s 24/7 and you can NEVER shut it off, it tips over into infuriating. It interferes with EVERYTHING: homework, chores, family dinner conversation, getting ready for bed, you name it. When I tell you Mason can’t even tie his shoes because he gets so distracted talking to Zack, I am not exaggerating one little bit.
So now picture them, side by side, at my middle island, as they tried to do homework. It was a catastrophe!!! As I made lunches for the next day, unloaded the dishwasher, cooked dinner, and did all the other mom tasks on my plate, I had to stop a hundred times to redirect them.
I tried every solution I could think of: rewards, punishments, even putting them in separate rooms. Inevitably, they’d end up back together because they needed to be on my computer for their on-line assignments. Homework was dragging on until 8:30 pm. With them distracting me so much, I wasn’t finishing my chores until 9 p.m.
It led to a terrible atmosphere. I felt like a horrible mother always yelling at them. They felt they couldn’t do anything right because they were constantly being picked at. That miserable dynamic was overshadowing any of the good in our household.
When my computer died for six weeks, things got infinitely worse. My kids were frustrated with how long it took to type an essay on the screen of an iPad. I was losing my patience, and my mind, as I waited for my husband to come around to the fact that we had to buy a new computer.
As an interim fix, my husband went out and bought iPad keypads. Those keyboards did get us through a very difficult patch, but there was still no denying I needed a new computer.
Through all this, I kept telling myself that God had a great plan in mind; and my PC had to die for that to happen. Like Tricia Gyer says in her reflection in Mornings With Jesus magazine, “Faith is trusting that Jesus has your good in mind, even when it’s hard to see.” That thought was the only thing that kept me sane.
At long last, two of my biggest challenges have been solved! I have a shiny new computer that’s twice as fast as my old one. And now, with two iPad keyboards, we have a whole new after school routine.
Right off the bus, the kids have snack time and “The Zack and Mason Show” at the middle island. At 4 p.m., I hand the boys their backpacks and their new homework bags. Inside is everything they need, iPads and keyboards included. Off they go to their separate HQ’s (“Homework Headquarters”).They can come to me for help whenever they need to, but otherwise, they aren’t to come out until all their work is done.
Oh the transformation!!! I can now help Jocelyn at her middle island HQ, with patience, because Zack and Mason aren’t rubbing my nerves raw. I’m also able to multi-task while helping her. Consequently, my chores are now done by 5 p.m. To top it all off, I am serving dinner, on time, for the first time in years.
Needles to say, we are all in heaven! I don’t feel like a terrible mother because I don’t have to yell anymore. Best of all, the boys have a huge sense of accomplishment, aren’t wounded from the constant criticism, and actually have time to play and chill out because they’re getting it all done in a reasonable time frame.
Although I never thought I’d say this, I would go through that six weeks of no-computer-hell again in a heart beat. Not having a computer forced us to get those keyboards. Those keyboards led to our new homework system. That new system has revolutionized our household.
I need to remember this experience for the next set of challenges I’m sure are headed our way. Hopefully, next time, I won’t complain about the hardship. Instead, I’ll try to be grateful, keeping faith that God will be working for our good.
P.S. – The icing on the cake is my husband finally fixed my dryer (which had died during all of this too). In the process, he discovered a bird’s nest blocking the vent. That blockage caused pounds and pounds of lint to clog the tube all the way from the outside, into the dryer itself. He never would have discovered that if he hadn’t had to disassemble the dryer to replace a part. My fireman brother-in-law confirmed that if my husband hadn’t cleaned all that out, the dryer could have caught on fire. Imagine if it had burned our house down? It’s yet another example of an extreme challenge we had to go through that was actually a gift in disguise. How great is God?!!!
Questions For Reflection:
* What challenges have I faced in the past?
* In retrospect, can I identify the good God was bringing to me in the midst of the challenge?
* What challenge am I facing now?
* Can I have faith that it too will bring good?
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