Day 7: Write 31 Days Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying… Think of the Alternative
The other night, at 2:00 am I woke up because I heard someone in the loft outside our bedroom door.
I set my ear and listened. I heard the television switch on, and then some rattling noises.
Justin rotated, rolled and snored.
Wearily, I got up, slipping on my fuzzy house shoes and robe. I opened the door to find our two-year-old vandal son, Charlie on the couch. He’d fashioned himself a little bed and was laid back, watching his favorite show, eating Lay’s potato chips from the bag. He had also fixed himself… a coke.
He looked up and saw me and without so much as a pause said, “Hey mommy, what are you doing up?”
I stared at him, blankly and said, “Could you turn that down a little?” And I went back to bed.
Justin inquired, “What was that?”
“Charlie, watching television – eating potato chips, having a coke.”
Justin shifted his pillow, bowled to his other side and said, “Oh my gosh, we are literally the worst parents in the world.”
I agreed, although he probably meant me, not we, and then we went back to sleep.
The next morning, the sun illuminated the loft where Charlie slept peacefully, bathed in potato chip crumbs. The television display read, “Are You Still Watching?” He slept until 10.
And I had a request to do “Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying…” THINK OF THE ALTERNATIVE.
In this case, the alternative would have looked like this…
I turned off the television, took the chips, and Charlie started screaming and crying – waking the baby, Sam, Sophie, and Justin. He would’ve kicked my butt and then been hysterical – myself, and everyone else would’ve been up for the duration. I would have stayed on the couch, eating potato chips and coke. A cruel reality would have been the alternative. Potato chip crumbs in my hair, empty coke cans scattered on the floor, self-loathing basking in the morning rays.
Certainly, if had I put him to bed, this case scenario makes me maybe feel like a better mom, but I would have undone the glory with the potato chips. Face it, there was green chili dip in the fridge. I am surprised Charlie didn’t know that.
Granted, Charlie can’t make a habit of this, and he hasn’t but the “alternative” had me battling with myself all day. Usually, the alternative line of thinking is such a colossal waste of time – yet this is where I dwell. I hate hypotheticals and one of my worst Graduate school encounters was steeped in the suppositious.
The professor instructed: Your child is dying. You have no money. You have no insurance. The pharmacy is closed, yet if you do not retrieve the medicine your baby requires within the hour he/she will die. What do you do?
And with every answer the professor humphed: “Think of the alternative!”
The moral law, the religious law, the predestined law, the witchcraft law, and the ridiculous law were barked, hollered, and heavied. It was the worst. Meanwhile, sitting next to me was my then two-year-old daughter. My babysitter had canceled, so Maggie slurped chicken and stars soup out of a Dora the Explorer thermos and colored in a Blue’s Clue’s coloring book, while the intellectuals roared indictments and theatricals at one another during graduate level statistics.
The alternative to Maggie dying? Break into the pharmacy, save her, go to jail. Or, let her die and follow the red letter of the law. OR! Lock the professor in the closet, go for margaritas and Mexican food.
It was my turn. “Jami, what would you do for Maggie?” he quipped.
“Not good enough! What would you do for Maggie?” He prodded like Alex Trebek hopped up on Red Bull during a speed round.
He cackled, “Wrong answer! Now she’s dead!”
And… I hate you, I thought. The rest isn’t worth repeating, but the answer stays the same. Moment by moment, condition by condition, dilemma by dilemma, trusting God with what I might do, what I did do, and what the result would or could be is perpetual for me: Trust God.
I can answer metaphorically or give a controversial and melodious answer; I can wish I was a stellar parent who always made the very best decision at any given moment. A mom who could, unequivocally shout, “Loot the pharmacy and kill anyone who gets in my way!” Or elaborate, “So I quietly carried him downstairs, sang him a lullaby and then he drifted to sleep in my arms as I breathed in the warm smell of angel blonde hair, fragrant with baby shampoo and potato chips.”
But I prefer the alternative.
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained! Love, Jami
Luke 12:27-29 (NLT) “Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things.”
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