Do we ever really grow out of wanting to win? I thought I was long past caring about winning games with the kids. I’ve become used to them saying …”Awww ….Mummy….you’re so cute and old…..we love you so much.” Whilst they meant they loved me, no matter how many balls went flying past me or how many games of Memory they completely demolished me with, I still felt a little miffed. Proud to see my kids confidently winning, yet still….a little miffed. They had piles of matched cards tucked away beside them on the floor and I had…..well I had very few.
Admittedly my mind goes out on ‘planning and contemplative’ missions…frequently. I mull conversations over in my head, I think about how many things I should be doing….in general, my brain is often everywhere else but on the game I’m playing.
Tonight I played ‘TROUBLE’ with my daughter. My daughter is highly competitive. We played two games, she won both. We went for another…..she won again. I must admit I was a little cheesed off, mainly because I didn’t like her overzealous attitude to winning. The game took a turn for the negative every time she sent another one of my little men back to home base. When I sent one of hers home I was secretly delighted. I really wanted to knock the stuffing out of her obnoxious little routine of singing and dancing a smart ass song every time she had a little success.
The game ended with her popping the perfect number to bring her last man to the finishing post. I needed to roll SEVEN to bring my little soldier home. With that she leapt to her feet chanting a beyond irritating song about me having to roll the impossible seven….seven seven….ooooh…..what a shame…roll a seven…roll a seven……ohhhhhhhh……tooooooo bad. I sat taking her performance in. It wasn’t pleasant. I felt uncomfortable. I felt I should either congratulate her…because after all…life can be a struggle for her in many ways and why not allow her to gloat and prance and rub her success in my face. I felt myself bristling. Finding it hard to choose the right words for what I wanted to say. I wanted to say she was displaying bad sportsmanship. Or was I the one being a bad sport?
“I don’t care…I won.” she spat out and flounced off.
I felt the tingle of tears forming. I blinked them away. Packing up and blinking….blinking. Standing up…..packing…..talking to the cat with a fake flippant tone. I felt like a child again. But I don’t remember being that type of a child. I was always pretty placid. I didn’t expect to win so disappointment was rarely an issue….more like a permanent kind of feeling.
I remembered my handbag was still out in the car so I grabbed the opportunity to escape outside. I stepped out into the pitch darkness….no time to go back and turn on the outside lights. I opened the car door and bent into the blackness….picking up my bag and feeling the tears surging up and out and rolling down in quick succession as I pushed things into my bag back and forth with no real purpose other than hiding my face.
My daughter was beside me.
“Are you all right?” she asks quietly.
“No” I answer without changing position. Frozen, not knowing how to react. It wasn’t the game. It was everything that has happened to me….to us…lately. For years. In my head I kept asking myself…..”When do I ever get to win….when is it my turn?”
“Are you OK Mummy?” she asks again.
“It’s not the game baby.”
“I know” she answers.
I turn to face her and bend down to cuddle her tiny frame. Her arms reach up and link around my neck and we stay like that for a moment.
“You’ll have to expect to see some tears baby.”
“I know…..you’re worried.” She says quietly. Wisely.
“Sometimes I might just want to be on my own….to sit and think….talk to God.”
“Being on my own to think….I can get messages from God…”
“I was so horrible…I’m sorry….” she says and starts to impersonate her winning charade. She starts giggling sheepishly and I collapse in half laughing with her….all forgiven and forgotten.
“But really….I might like to have a bit of time on my own…maybe I’ll drive up and post these letters.”
“Ok” she says.
I wonder about the burden my tears have put on her young shoulders. She leaves me in the dark and I move to peep through the crack in the curtains to see if she stops to whisper in her older brother’s ear. I hope not. I stand on my own with my bag in hand. Nowhere to go. Nowhere to escape and let those tears out and howl and feel sorry for myself and ask God out loud what I have to do to have a break….why am I always losing? The only place I can go to cry is the shower. Where the water and the steam give me space to let it all out. I can’t let Dad know I’m crying again. There’s only so many tears you can cry before people start to get really worried. I’m the strong one.
I open the car and sit in the cramped back seat. The April evening is warm. A soft breeze is blowing and it could be a romantic evening…if I had someone strong beside me. If I had someome to help hold me up. Come with me to the specialists. Why should the kids and my Dad be dragged through this. I’m the one who supports them. They need me.
A thought crosses my mind. If I can depend on God to guide me through this….then so can they. They have the same resources as I have. I’m not the one in control of everything. I see my daughter look anxiously out the window trying to see what I’m doing. I make my hand look happy as it waves about in the dark…trying to reassure her. Another thought crosses my mind……
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Shakespeare.
I’ve read this quote many times because I like it. It has resurfaced in my mind at the right time. Why am I buying into the theory that a certain diagnosis is bad and I should therefore react accordingly. If I buy into this world wide thought which tells us ‘this is bad’ then I’m leaving no room for hope.
I know I don’t have a lot of time sitting alone in the car. My daughter will be growing anxious and my Dad could walk into the kitchen and ask “Where’s Mum?” To which my daughter will answer…”Um…she’s sitting in the car.” And that will set about a chain reaction I’m not ready for.
Torn between reversing up the driveway or jumping under the shower I sit a moment longer in the blissful peace of the car. I become aware of our pet Galah stepping from one foot to the other….watching me with one eye…..hoping I’ll come and visit him…scratch his head….be his friend. We do this often. When I look into his all knowing, all seeing eyes, I feel a connection, I can read his emotions…..no words required.
I feel defeated. I look around at the house I grew up in. Perhaps there’s a reason why we’re all still here. This is my home….this will always be my home and my mind wanders to places I shouldn’t visit….thoughts I shouldn’t think….because I’ve been sold the theory of the world. Yet there is such a thing as a cooling off period. I might have been lulled into the idea of infirmity but I don’t have to accept that thought. “nothing good or bad….thinking makes it so…”
Before I know it my mind has taken me to another passage I’ve read in Mary Baker Eddys famous book on healing…….
“Would existence without personal friends be to you a blank? Then the time will come when you will be solitary, left without sympathy, but this seeming vacuum is already filled with divine Love. When this hour of development comes, even if you cling to a sense of personal joys, spiritual Love will force you to accept what best promotes your growth. Friends will betray and enemies will slander, until the lesson is sufficient to exalt you; for “mans extremity is God’s opportunity.”
Mans extremity is God’s opportunity. That’s what came into my mind sitting alone in the car. I had felt defeated, given up…..standing in the dark, bereft of hope…that short moment was my extremity. God had answered my call by reminding me of these favourite quotes. I remember walking from the car to the supermarket the night before. Yesterday had been a day. One of those days that change your life forever. I was falling into the belief in vulnerability and I knew this just couldn’t continue. My daughter and I stopped in the street and I said…..”Let’s stop and think some positive thoughts….let’s listen to God.”
I remembered the definition of Angels in Mary Baker Eddys book….
“God’s thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect; the inspiration of goodness, purity, and immortality, counteracting all evil, sensuality, and mortality.”
I couldn’t remember those exact words but I said to my daughter….
“Feel that beautiful wind……let’s listen for Gods angels whispering heavenly messages in our ears…”
She held my hand tight and gave me a huge smile. As we continued on she looked up at me and said…”I love that….what you said… I really love it.” And with that the sense of fragility lifted. That was yesterday.
Tonight I picked up my bag and locked the car. I walked into the house and poked my nose into the lounge room where my little girl sat on her own.
“I did get some messages from God” I told her.
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
“I like that Mummy”
“So do I…..I’m going to write about it.”
These are the battles worth fighting for. Every day is a challenge.
And …yes….I do want to win.
Reference: Science and Health with key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy – (A Christian Healer)
Published in 1875.