I always thought the story of Cain and Able was somewhat of an extreme case in the bible. Y’know, maybe just a bit of a stretch. Then I had three boys. Suddenly I was very aware of the competition facet amongst siblings, the jealousy, the bitterness, the wishing each other harm, even. Somehow it made better sense now.
As the only girl in my family growing up and the baby on top of that I never had issues with my siblings. Okay, that’s not completely true. They would tickle my feet until I cried and trap me in saunas until I cried and basically do a lot of things until I cried. Apparently I was a cryer. Or a wimp. I’m going with both for $200 Alex.
But then we were cool after whatever the event was that made me cry that day. I wouldn’t dislike them later. I didn’t harbour bitterness.
I also didn’t feel a sense of competition. Now this could be because I had no desire to skate the half pipe that was in our backyard and in turn they had not an iota of care as to how to do a perfect fishtail braid. I could see that there was something different between my two older brothers though, but I was mostly oblivious to it as I skipped through life brushing My Little Pony’s tails and wishing I could be besties with Punky Brewster.
It seems like there’s something amongst boys though, an inherent need to compete, to be better, faster, stronger. Of course, this is only my personal take because all I have are boys but it just seems to always be there. It doesn’t matter to the 10 year old that his brother is 4 years older, he thinks he should be able to beat him in a race. And it doesn’t matter that the oldest is two years the middles senior, the middle still wants to prove himself smarter. Or dreams of being taller. And is so proud that his feet are already bigger.
Some days this can get wearisome to a mom (hello! That’s me! The one in the corner sucking her thumb whilst curled up in fetal position and rocking back and forth). The constant one-upping rather than encouraging. The arguing over whether the goal really counted or if “T” was called first. Even things like eating dinner fastest, or brushing teeth first or who walked the dog more times this week become a competition, a race, an I’m-better-than-you sort of feeling.
It can get me at my wits end. Frayed. Frazzled. Downright rant, material. My poor husband. This is what he gets to come home to each day.
But he grew up in an all boy family and assures me it’s normal. That this is what brother’s do. This is the way they love and bond and I should probably stop losing sleep over it or I’m going to be one tired mess.
So I’ve been trying to focus on the positive in our home this week. I’ve been making myself very aware of the good times, the kind words, the time spent together that doesn’t end in, “Moooo-oooom!!!” And you know what, it’s there too. Almost as much as the other, if I’m being honest. I just tend to not see it. Because my shoulders don’t hunch up in stress and my toes don’t curl up tight when they’re loving each other, only when they’re not.
Two of the boys were texting with each other today.
That’s mama warming heart fodder, right there!
So, you know how when you suddenly get a new vehicle you tend to notice that same make and model everywhere? I didn’t ever know how many VW Beetles there were out there until I got a baby blue number when I turned 16 and suddenly it seemed like every other car was waving at me or shooting me peace signs. Well, it turns out its kinda like that when you look for the good in your kids. It’s there. Like sort of all over the place. It’s just that you weren’t use to seeing it because you were so focused on that other icky part.
I’m thinking there’s got to be more moments like this out there in other areas of life that I’m missing for seeing too much of the ick!
(I kid you not I just had to stop writing to go break up a fight of epic proportions. Keepin’ it real around here, that’s fo’ sho’.)
But I wonder if, instead of complaining about not making it through the stoplight, that I look around and find something better. That elderly couple holding hands as they walk or that little boy on his bike. Or instead of watching the news and being disheartened at all the evil in the world I could pay more attention to that one story about the child who called 911 and saved his father’s life or how that girl delivered her baby on a bus. Even today I looked at the sun streaming in through the windows and I thought, “Ugh! My windows are so dirty!”
It was right then and there that I smacked myself upside the head and gave it a good shake. For reals? I’m grumbling about greasy fingerprints on my windows when I’ve got sun shining in and 3 healthy little boys running amuck? That’s nonsense and I’m a loser with a capital L and just stop it, okay? Okay.
Why am I so quick to see the yuck? Why do I judge so hard? Why do my spidey senses hone in on the harsh and the wrong instead of celebrating the joy and the good?
“Whatever their bodies do affects their souls. It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out…” C.S. Lewis from his book Screwtape Letters.
So I’ve made up my mind to be aware. To look for it. To see the good instead of being run down by the bad. To let it in. In my home, my own family, the people I don’t necessarily enjoy the very most, the traffic and the smog and even in the toast that burnt to a crisp. Because there’s good in all of it. I know there is. I just sometimes forget to see it.
What about you? What good are you seeing all around you? What little moments are you holding on to and treasuring up in your heart?