Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Basements, Anxiety and Joy

My Aunt Erma--my dad's sister--was the hostess of the Memorial Day Picnic we attended. She really enjoyed Emily and e-mailed last week asking if Emily could go over there sometime and play. She has a large old dollhouse that Emily really enjoys. So, a playdate was set up for yesterday morning. I was grateful someone was taking an interest in Emily, since she is a middle child and, like Timothy, needs more individual attention.

We don't have a basement, which I find to be a blessing. I hate the smells coming out of basements, and I hate that damp, humid feel. The storage opportunity is nice for reducing clutter, but I'll still take a slab house any day.

My other reason for disliking basements is that I have small children. I know a few people who've fallen down them as children, so my nerves could never take it. Some have doors, but not the ones I've seen since moving here.

Erma's basement in directly in front of the backdoor entrance, which everyone uses. How she raised four children in an 1100 square-foot house and only had one tot fall down the basement steps, I'll never know. My cousin Rick, her oldest, loves the smell of basements. He lives in our desert area of California and comes back a few times a year to visit his Mom and Dad and get a good whiff of their basement. lol Brings back childhood memories for him.

But I digress. Anyhow, Emily went over there yesterday morning to play with Aunt Erma, and I somehow forgot that I was going to bring one of our tension gates. I don't even know if it would have attached properly, but I was going to bring it anyway.

No, Emily did not fall down their basement steps. Thank the Lord for that. But as soon as I dropped her off and drove away, the anxiety started. I began thinking of all the things I love about Emily. Next, I thought of her falling down those steps and never walking again...or dying of a head injury. Similar thoughts have been common for me, dating back to her falls and stitches. The scenes keep coming back to me--the blood, the crying, my panic, the hospital room, her screaming, etc.

As I drove home, I told the Lord I was NOT going to succumb to a panic disorder. So many in my extended family have them, and they reluctantly live with the intrusion in their lives.

I kept fighting the thoughts, all the while wanting to go back and remind Erma to be careful about the basement. She hasn't had two-year-olds in her house in several years, and I thought maybe she wouldn't be used to the pace--to the short time it takes them to get into trouble.

After arriving home, it was time for me to put Anna down. I came in here, put her in the crib, and talked with her a bit while checking e-mail and reading a news story. What news story did I choose? The one about the English couple who lost their five-year-old to meningitis, and then took his body and some of his toys, put them in sacks, drove 100 miles to a cliff, and jumped off of it together, as a whole family, to their deaths. They were a lovely couple, neighbors said--very devoted to their son, who was put on life support after being hit by a car when he was one.

I immediately started crying. What a tragic story! Their hearts were surely broken and they saw no reason to go on. Their son was their whole life. It must have been him they worshipped, and without him, there was no purpose. I know grief can feel like that at times, but a belief in God stops one from jumping off cliffs. I don't know anything else about that family, but I would venture to guess they were not Believers.

And then I thought about my precious Rose, and how devastated and empty I would feel without being able to kiss her lovely face, and her sweet, unruly curls, and enjoy her boundless energy in my midst. I would forever have a picture of her happy-go-lucky personality, running around the house, livening up my world. I can't even imagine the extent of the grief!

But I know I could go on. I know I would feel joy once again, after a long season. I don't worship my kids. I worship my Heavenly Father. He was telling me, by having me click on that particular story, that the worst thing that could happen to Emily Rose, would be survivable. And he assured me that I would still be able to sing songs of joy to Him. I would still love him, despite my grief.

I don't know if this line of thinking will prevent anxiety the next time, but it is helpful to be reminded that my hope is in Christ. My children are his, and he decides how long I get to raise them and love them on this earth.

In lighter news, I did more joy dancing today! The kids are catching on fast. I belt out a song of joy every time an annoyance occurs. It's working. Instead of irritation and ugliness, I choose joy!

Daniel said to me, whilst leaping around with me,"Is there joy in everything?"

Yes. Absolutely. There is. We just have to tap into it. The inner, deep-down joy is always there. The outer joy is a discipline. A habit. A choice.

I once read that it takes 21 days to form a habit. I'll be singing my made-up joy songs for at LEAST the next 20 days. After that, maybe the joy will be so ingrained, I won't even think about getting annoyed. I'll be like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music--twirling around the lawn with my charges, singing my heart out. That scene of them singing up on that hill? Priceless. It's my all-time favorite movie scene.


Liz said...

Oh Pam, I love this post and the one before it too for so many reasons. First of all, thank you for reminding me to "coat it all in joy". I've been feeling so touchy and stressed lately and I know that's not God's choice for my state of mind. Next, I can so relate to the gripping worry and anxiety you expressed about the safety of your daughter after you dropped her off at your Aunt's house. I never experienced any of that type of worry until my daughter came along. But it's not limited to just my daughter, it also includes my husband, extended family, pets, neighbors -- yikes -- I could be a real basket case if I let myself sink into it. By the grace of God, I can usually pray through it without lingering there. I think you're right on track with your prayers and thoughts to counter those gripping feelings.

Now, I need to go and work on coating it all in Joy!! That is totally the type of mom, wife and woman I want to be!

momma's heart said...

Liz, I'm afraid it includes more than just Emily Rose for me too. It's just so pronounced lately..especially with her.