I am sure that I have talked about this many times before, so many that I could probably have gone into the archive articles and found something that described what I am wanting to say, but as I am thinking now…
Today has been very difficult. After sleeping soundly for three nights in a row and feeling somewhat refreshed, last night hit me “upside” my head getting no sleep…at all. Around three in the morning when I tried to get her on the potty and she didn’t understand how to sit down and was trying to sit back on the bed with a bare bottom with me knowing that if she did I was going to have a bed to change out, I raised my voice and said loudly “Sit HERE mother” and by main force turned her and got her down before the portable contraption turned over on us both. Having finished with that chore and getting her back in the bed I listened as she chattered, making no intelligible sentences, and began to cry. She looked at me and her mouth formed a lipless circle as her dear old face crumpled into tears saying “I want to go home.” The next thing I could figure out was that her mama and her Aunt Lily (mama’s younger sister who has been in heaven for many years) were waiting on her and she needed to go. No amount of convincing her that this was her home was going to work.
I settled back into my recliner and pulled the soft, warm, lavender blanket up around me and began to think. I had raised my voice at my mother, something that my dad would have put me over his knee for doing when I was a child. The next time I walked to her bedside to offer her a drink of water from a hard,plastic cup that has a built-in straw and the words P I N K on it, knowing she wouldn’t really understand I still felt the need to apologize so I said, “Mother, I am so sorry I raised my voice at you, I’m not angry at you I am just frustrated at never being able to do the right thing for you.” Oops, there it was…
The need to please can kill you my friend and it seems I was born with the disease of trying to please, not sure whether my birth-order, being the oldest of three, has anything to do with it. So who am I really? Am I the person that makes sure everything gets done and done right because I am such a thoughtful, wonderful person that I put everyone’s needs ahead of mine or am I afraid that if I don’t I will face retribution of some sort?
I remember a time when I was still small enough to stand between my parents in the front seat of the car (and in case you wonder, in the “olden” days cars had bench seats and no seat-belts so kids either sat on the arm rest AKA “horse” or simply stood and leaned against one of the adults) and I had an ice cream cone. My dad asked me if he could have some and I handed it over and watched as he “got it under control” as it had begun to drip down the front of my little dress. From that time forward I was labeled as being “completely unselfish, self-sacrificing” etc. Do we tell children who they are without even realizing it? I heard my mother telling the ladies at church what a “great little hostess” I was because I enjoyed serving them their coffee and bringing goodies for them to have with it. So I continued being a great hostess through the years, was I really or was I making true a statement that I had overheard about myself?
Listening to my mother’s mumblings I have picked up some statements that made me wonder, “I am so stubborn”, “I am Earl Paulk” (her dad), “I’m a bad girl”. Mother often told the story of how she was talking and talking when her mother turned to her and said, “Myrtle don’t you ever stop talking even for a minute? Now hush and go sit down!” According to the story mother came down with a fever before the night had ended and was delirious. My grandmother had knelt by her bed and begged her to “just say one word”. After nights of hearing her do the “talking” thing I think I can understand my grandmother’s frustration and hope that soon it isn’t me saying those words to her lifeless form.
What’s the point? Be careful what you say to your children because believe it or not they are listening and when you tell them how bad or stubborn they are they might just set out to prove you right. In my case the things I tried to emulate were all things that just went to make me a better person, whether it is who I was going to be or not I don’t know for sure but I wouldn’t want to take any chances.
I cannot take back the raising of my voice, it still rings in my ears and I hope it doesn’t continue to haunt me, that’s why I am warning you to be careful of your words and take the advice that my dear old “Pop” gave when he told me, his “Armenian Princess” granddaughter, to think about everything I was going to say ten times before I said it. When he told me that I said, “Well Pop if I did that I wouldn’t say much now would I?” To that he simply looked at me with eyes no longer such a deep brown from under raised eyebrows and just the tiniest bit of a smile on his weathered old face.
Proverbs 25:11 “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” and to that I add, “A word to the wise is sufficient”