The day after Julianna was born, an acquaintance of a relative, a physician who works with kids with special needs, stood at the foot of my hospital bed and told me, “You need to be prepared to be an advocate for your daughter. Because nobody else is going to do it.”
Although at the time the admonishment went straight into the DWL file (deal with later), those words come back to me almost daily. They have taken root in my soul, so to speak, until they have come to define my parenthood. And not just my parenthood as Julianna’s mom, but as parent, protector and defender of all my children.
I get angry when other kids butt in line in front of my children. I bare my teeth when a child makes fun of one of mine. I light into the entire world when I see something that will make life harder, or poorer, for my children. There is nothing about this that is unique to me. It’s something we all do naturally as parents. But somehow those words give me permission to rear up in righteous anger and flex my claws.
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The problem is, actions become character. The more I justify my righteous anger, the closer I slide to self-righteous judgment. And soon I find myself angry all the time. Angry at rational and irrational things, none of which I have any control over. Angry when my kids and I are kept at the doctor’s office for three hours—again. Angry about the useless changing of clocks. Angry because the car at the stop sign waited for me to go, even though it was his turn. (I mean, really—the nerve!)
Although there is much in the world that justifies righteous anger, it doesn’t really do any good. Fuming and teeth gnashing, complaining and tongue lashings, generally speaking, change nothing. And the more time I spend being angry, the more things I look for to be angry about. Some are justified—many are not. Before I know it, I’m angry all the time. And that’s dangerous. That’s what turns people with everything to be thankful for into angry, bitter individuals—I know you’re thinking of one or two right now. I don’t want to be one of them. I want to be a serene, Spirit-filled person.
And so this morning, upon waking, I choose to whisper: God, move in me. Today, help me choose serenity. Help me to see, not things to wake the mother bear, but the best that people have to offer.