Pennies for Glaciers

I am not ashamed to confess that this week, I hit an emotional crevasse. Simone and I just had a lesson on glaciers, heavy areas of ice that move and slide down mountains and form valleys. Sometimes, the glacier ends up where there is no land to support it and a sunny day comes along and the ice falls in and a crevasse is formed. Some people find it very exciting to explore down into the crevasse. Exploring requires energy.

I have decided to call the last eight months beginning in July 2010, The Time of the Brain. Brain seizures. Brain tumors. Brain surgery. Chemotherapy. Radiation. Skulls on ice. Friends in crisis. Family in crisis.

Last week, another diagnosis opened a crevasse and I woke up for quite a few mornings and thought, though I am willing to be here, I don’t have the energy to strap on the equipment and head down into it.

I flailed about on the glacier, slipping into the valley and then I got a grip by realizing that it’s time to conserve my energy and, like a newbie planning a camping trip, I sat down for an assessment.

Pray. Love. Serve. Cry. All vital.

Homeschool. Family Life. Teaching prep. Health. All Priorities.

Facebook? Not vital. Not a priority.

Reminding kids to pick up and put away stuff? What? Hmmmm. Though this seemed to come out of nowhere, thinking back over the previous hour, I counted eight reminders that I gave out about known things my kids are supposed to do. I felt very tired about that.

Install light bulb over the mother’s head.

This is what happened and it happened quickly. A slight minute went by, I looked down and two children hadn’t put things away. Without one ounce of Mwa-haha, I called them in to the room, pointed at the item. “You owe me a dollar.” Looks were exchanged, glances of sweetness were cast and I said, “Right now.”

I’ll not dredge up the entire morning, afternoon and evening of that first day but I will confirm that not one child remained fine-less by nightfall.

I began to hear small comments about what latte ‘She’ll’ get at Starbucks with the cash ‘She’s’ collecting. Once a sympathetic sibling smoked out an SOS to another. A measured look was cast. The fine remained unlevied. The house was tidy but most importantly, I had energy.

On the second day, all the money in the land of the children was gone. Pennies were retrieved and offered but fell short.

All the children gathered around the kitchen island and a cry rang out that the system is unjust. We don’t get an allowance, remember? We’re allowed to live here and enjoy meals and clothing for all our chore-completing! We have no way of replacing the commodity you are requiring! Listen, mom, flesh wounds will heal. Emotional wounding can be dealt with later. (Real statements. Our kids are SO weird.) Stop taking our money!

My response? I’ll still let you eat. I’ll still let you wear clothes. I’ll just put up a chart so that you can see the debt grow. I feel rested and my smile is genuinely gracious.

It’s not a new idea for the rest of our large world but for me, the necessity for energy is the seed of all fine-giving. A person can only give out so much and when the needs are so clear, small and pointless drains are a heavy price.

This exercise is certainly not over but it seems like the crevasse of our lives may be have a little more joy in it. Responsibility is a breeder of satisfaction and respect creates healthy relationships. There’s still a glacier sliding down our mountain but I just bought myself some new equipment. I had to do something with all that cash.

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