Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy (or not so happy) Memorial Day!

Hey guys!  This is a post I did today for my private blog that I thought some of you might enjoy. :)

Hi everyone.  Happy Memorial Day! May we always remember the brave men and women who gave their lives so that we could live in freedom.

I just had to share a rather sad story from last night. Our church celebrated Memorial Day with a special evening service that included singing, poetry, and an extremely moving DVD of 3 of the WWII veterans from our church sharing their experiences. One of the songs was a medley performed by the children and high school youth of our church. As you might guess, all three of my girls were involved.

Now, before I share this story, I have to set the stage, so to speak. The girls have all had minor colds for a few days now, so we stayed home from the morning service. We had to be at practice at 5 pm, which is when we normally eat dinner. The service was at 6, and didn't get over until after 7, which is the girls' normal bedtime.

At 3:45, I started getting things ready. Of course, being the extremely unorganized person that I am, (and in my defense, let me remind you that I had all 4 wisdom teeth removed last Monday, so things have been a little out of whack lately) it didn't dawn on me until that exact moment that red, white or blue attire would be the most appropriate for being on stage on MEMORIAL DAY (duh!).

Thus began a mad, frantic scramble through the girl's clothes. I was desperate for anything that even resembled red, white and blue (you'd think it wouldn't be that difficult!). I finally managed to find an outfit for each girl...horribly wrinkled, of course. Out came the iron. I don't think I've ever ironed faster in my life!! I dressed each of them, only to discover that the shirt I'd chosen for my oldest was too small.

At this point, my two younger girls were dressed but needed shoes and were in desperate need of help with their hair. They also needed to brush their teeth. My oldest had a skirt but no shirt, no shoes, tangled hair, and unbrushed teeth. I was still in my pajamas (don't knock's a stay-at-home-mom thing, OK?) with no makeup, wild hair, and absolutely no clue what I was going to wear. It was now 4:15. We had to leave by 4:45 at the absolute latest to get there by 5:00.

As you can imagine, I wasn't exactly the perfect representation of calm, rational motherhood at this moment. My hubby, who had been sleeping after a long weekend of work, woke up in time to rescue my oldest from my attempts at brushing through her tangles at light speed (the fact that she was crying and I was, to put it mildly, not exactly being sympathetic probably didn't help his napping). He helped me get snacks and drinks together for the girls while I found the oldest another shirt, did the two younger girls' hair, brushed everyone's teeth, got dressed, and did my makeup.

We were in the car by 4:40. I had not given everyone the huge snack I had planned, although I had at least fed them. I hadn't eaten since 3:00, but I couldn't think of anything soft enough for my mouth to take with me.

We got there on time (early, even!) and the girls started running through their program. They all looked so cute! All three of them were singing their hearts out with the other children. The song was a medley that included "I'm Just a Flag-Wavin' American", and each child got to hold their own little flag and wave it every time they sang that line. I was in charge of passing out flags to the children on the left side of the stage.

Then, about midway through the practice, my middle daughter misunderstood something the director said and thought she was being singled out and scolded. Afterwards, she was confused about where she was supposed to move for the next part of the song. For Middle Gal, who loves nothing more than getting things right and being praised for it, this was crushing. She was so distraught that she started crying and had to come sit with me.

Everyone ran through the song one more time, but Middle Gal decided to sit it out. She told me between sobs that she was afraid she'd sound whiny and she didn't know where to go. This girl was tired and needed food, so my mom and I figured it would probably be best for her to sit in the audience instead of performing. Something important that I should have connected at the time is that one little girl on my side of the stage who had missed the first practice was there for the second one...but more on that later.

After the practices were over, when Middle Gal realized that she was going to miss the actual performance, she decided that she wanted to sing after all. I checked with our director and she said it would be okay as long as I thought she could do it without crying.

Now, at this point, it would have been smart for me to go over the flags and make sure we had enough. But I hadn't even thought about that extra little girl and the fact that we might be short.. I was so tired and hungry and stressed about my middle daughter falling apart. At the moment, I was trying to decide whether or not I should have her go back up. I talked to her a bit, and she seemed completely recovered. I realized then that it would probably be best for all parties concerned if she went ahead and sang. My youngest would do better having her sister with her, and my middle gal would be very disappointed to miss out on performing.

Between this time and the actual service, my oldest also had a melt-down moment. She was crying and upset enough that I was wondering if she would have to sit it out instead! Thankfully, she pulled it together in time. By now, I was just trying to keep everyone happy long enough to get through their song.

Midway through the service, it was time for the medley. I got up, grabbed my pile of flags, and started passing them out to the kids. I was down to the last two girls (my middle daughter and my youngest daughter) when I realized to my horror that I only had one flag left. I gave Middle Gal the last flag and sent her up to the stage. My youngest stood next to me waiting with a trusting but slightly confused expression on her face. I took her hand and said, "I don't have a flag for you yet, sweetie. Go ahead and go up". I led her to the stage and placed her next to her sister.

By now, the song had already begun. The children were all singing with happy voices and cheerfully waving their flags. I will never forget the look on my Little Gal's face. She stood there, a forlorn look on her features, first looking over at the other children with their flags, then looking down at me. I'm actually almost crying now just thinking about it! It was such a terrible moment. I felt like the worst mother in the world.

My mind was racing. How had I suddenly come up one flag short? What could I do? I glanced across at the mom who had handed out flags to the children on the other side of the stage and saw that she had 4 or 5 extra flags sitting next to her. But by now, the song was in progress and it seemed like it would be too distracting to race 2 aisles over, grab a flag, and race back. In retrospect, I probably should have just done it. Everyone would have understood, and Little Gal would have been happier. But I hesitated. I didn't want to break the children's concentration or detract from the performance.

Little Gal never cried. Her lip quivered some, and her face was absolutely pitiful. But she also didn't sing. It was so heartbreaking. I thought back to the practice, when she'd done such a wonderful job. She knew all the words to the song, even though she's only 3. Now she just stood there watching the others.

When all of the kids came down, my youngest said, "Mommy, I wanted a flag too!" Even then she didn't cry, but I just felt so terrible.

I realize this wasn't really that big of a deal in the scheme of things. I think I was more traumatized by it than she was, to be honest! After talking things through with a few others, I finally realized what had happened with the extra kiddo being thrown into the mix. I just wish I would have realized it in time.

I just had to keep reminding myself that God is in control of everything, even little things like a three year old who doesn't get to have a flag during her song. As moms, we hate to see our children suffer or miss out on the best life has to offer. I know this sounds silly, but I even found myself praying, "Why Lord? Why did my daughter have to go through this?"

I'm sure there will be many more unpleasant situations my girls will have to endure as they grow. I don't think it will get any easier moving on from missing flags to broken hearts and unkind friends...or even bigger problems. This is what I do know, though. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

"All things"...even heartbreak and disappointment, even trials and testings. I can rest assured that everything that has happened and will happen to my girls is already known and allowed by our Heavenly Father. Because He is all-knowing, He can see the outcome even when I can't understand it with my finite human brain. Even if the things that happen to my girls aren't good in and of themselves, they can be used for good. God may use some situations to conform their character more like His own (James 1:2-4). He may use trials to lead them in another direction, or draw the girls closer to Himself. I may never know the reason for some things that will happen to the girls until Heaven. But because God is good, I can rest in His promises.

One valuable result of my youngest girl's little trial is that everyone was very impressed with the way she handled the situation. The best way I can describe it is that she was a stalwart little soldier. [This is not meant to belittle the severity of the situations that our real troops face in any way, btw.] She was obviously disappointed, but didn't cry or throw a fit. She just bravely endured the whole situation. The director of the evening called her the "hero of the night". Little Gal herself seems to be completely over her disappointment...she was even singing "I'm Just a Flag-Wavin' American" with her sisters this morning, a huge grin on her face. (I, on the other hand, will probably never be able to listen to that song again without thinking of last night!)

I am so proud of my girl, and can only pray that I will remember this little lesson as the girls grow and face new challenges through each period of their life.


Bama said...

Hi! I have just discovered your blog and love it! This most recent post is wonderful. I'm so glad everything worked out and yes, I know exactly how you felt. Your little girl is quite a trooper!

I love Jane Austen and Historical Fiction, as well as true stories. ust scrolling through your right side-bar made me smile.

I can't wait to go through your entire blog and read and look at your photos.

I'm adding you to my blog list and hope you will also visit me when you have time.

beast'sbelle said...

Thanks, Bama. I'm glad you're enjoying the blog. :) I'm still on vacation at the moment, so I only had a chance to take a quick peek at your blog. I'm looking forward to paying it a longer visit when I get back. It sounds like we have a lot in common! :)