Sometimes we moms get caught in the crossfire of on the job “Maaahhwm-cupational Hazards”. Here are a few from this week:

Hazard #1 – Stress
On Monday, I headed down yet another avenue that I hoped would lead to some relief from the pain in my ear… the one that had hearing loss earlier this year. It wasn’t quite the spa experience my MRI was (The Red Door), but I’m hoping some help might be in sight.

About a month ago, I visited our internist to see if he might be my Dr. House in shining armor. He sent me to a periodontist (the ear pain creeps into my teeth… crazy) who had no answer to my hearing loss and that discomfort, but is convinced that part of the pain is most likely caused by…

“Yes, looks like our grinding your teeth,” he tells me.
“Really?? I don’t think I do that.”
“Well, most people don’t realize they do it… and it’s mostly due to stress. … Are you under any stress?”
I pause … then genuinely answer, “No. … I’m pretty laid back… I can’t think of anything that is stressful.”
He and his assistant stared at me. They might have even raised their eye-brows.
“No, I’m serious … I really don’t have any stress.”
“Now tell me again how many kids you have?” he asked.
“And what are their ages?”
“3 to 15.”
“Honey… unless you doing some major self medication, you’re under stress.”

Hmmm… guess he has a point.

Sign me up for one of those mouth guards.

Hazard #2 – Periodic Verbal Assaults, sometimes with heavy shrapnel
A particular teen got in the car from school a bit off. It might not have helped that while taking his friend home, I might have berated him a bit about needing tutoring in science. It was all in the spirit of spurring the kid on to greatness by mini-lecturing on the virtues of studying, hard work and making the most of free after-school help from your science teacher.

Fake laughter was exchanged between the two boys. Then we dropped Miller at his home. My little lecture (peppered here and there with ignored encouraging words) continued to other subjects and ended as we pulled up to our house.

“and… did you ask your teacher what you’re memorizing for your declamation project?”
(For those who have followed the MOAT from the beginning… it was this exercise last year that hit home our need our little equipping exercise)
“Please tell me you asked her.”
“Okay – You didn’t forget.” Silence. “DID YOU??!!”
“Well, I guess we’ll be headed right back to school and finding the teacher to get your assignment.”

That apparently was the shot heard around the world. Unbeknownst to me, I had pulled the trigger. And boy was it ugly from that point on. Words were exchanged. Voices raised. Doors slammed. It was ugly. … and a bit painful for more reasons than one. An impenetrable wall had risen around the kid. No one was allowed access… and he wasn’t coming out.

If it had ended here, I would have had every bit of the wind taken from my sails. But I refused to give into the temptation to spew back and give him one of the few pieces of my mind that might be left … to turn my back on him.

Instead, I forced myself to reach for the life preserver my stubborn spirit didn’t want  to touch. I fought through my pride and my wounds and thought about the countless times I spew my version of “fair” to God. Rarely, if ever, does He spew back. He responds in love. … So against every urge in my body to march up to the kid’s room and light into him, I went up and told him that despite his apparent disdain for me, I love him.

He didn’t say a word.

Then I left the house with one of my coughing, fever-ridden kids of the week en route to the doctor.

Hazard #3 – Sticky Goo
When we left the house, a rather crabby Future Hoarder of America begged for a lollipop. Being the over-indulger that I am (ooohhh… I’ve just discovered another life area that might need attention!), I gave him four.

Crabby McCrab revealed the source of his bad attitude when he started snoring a few blocks from home, still steel-gripping those candies. We arrived at the pediatricians and I tried to lift the kid out of his carseat without dropping the pops or waking him up. I succeeded on both only to discover that part of the reason one of the candies didn’t fall on the ground is that the lollipop had found a home in my hair. Nothing like a good Texas wind and a sticky sucker to bring the two together.

Oh well.

Hazard #4 – Waiting… Waiting … more Waiting.
When you’re the last appointment of the day, and the office has “worked you in”… plan on waiting. And then some.

Hazard #5 – Disappearing Scruples
When all else fails and you’ve had a long day, be ready to throw certain principals to the wind.

“Please just wait in the car while I run in and hand the prescription to the pharmacist.” (I know if I haul my crew into the store, whining will begin… and I just might start self medicating in order to deal with my newly diagnosed stress :)
“Come on… It will take me less than 2 minutes… Pleeeeeezzzzzee.”
“I’ll get you some nice big chocolates. Those Hershey Kisses you love.”
Silence…. “Okay.”

I race in and out as promised, 100% guilty of bribery.

Hazard #6 – Falling Rocks
We had to address the day’s earlier altercation. It could have been done in one of 2 ways, either confrontational (probably our normal course of action – sometimes effective in the short run, but overall destructive) or compassionate. After a bit of the former between the kid and the big boss, Jon and I sat together to talk and get our strategy straight. (To set the stage, the kid’s push back was as tough as it has ever been. His wall was up so high and so strong, nothing was penetrating the defiant yet deeply wounded exterior).

Parking our pride … and fear (the kind that’s usually centered on “if they don’t make these certain grades, they’ll never get into college”)… we agreed that the kid needed more than anything to hear that his home is safe. That we are there for him no matter what. That he isn’t defined by his success (or failure) at school. That we think he’s terrific. That no matter what he spews at us, we’re not going anywhere.

The kid knows there’s no free ride. He knows that consequences follow certain actions … but somewhere in all the tough love – the message about the love had gotten lost.

“I can tell him, but he’s not going to listen.” Jon said.
“He may not listen, but he will hear you.” I replied.

And not only did he hear… the words actually penetrated. The wall started to crumble. The rocks started to fall. Standing inside was a kid who had experienced a super tough day at school. No need to go into details, but it involved exactly what I had done in the car  – an authority figure (with no bad intention) embarrassing him in front of his friends.

Oh… to dig past the tough teen exterior and to get the real story was so worth parking what
ever was going on with me.

Moral of the story? In the midst of the hazards, avoid the Calgon-Take-Me-Away flight urge, take a breath and see beyond the situation. A deep breath and a little perspective just might escort me to the spot we strive to reach – a point of trust and real communication.

Help me remember that tomorrow when more hazards comes my way.

Thanks for walking the road with me. (Sorry for the long entry :)

Please feel free to share the Maw-cupational Hazards you’ve seen in your home… I’m sure we can all relate.

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