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Paradise Unhinged
by Tammy McConnell
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Sounds of Looney Tunes “WHAP’s” and “POW’s” drift into my room as I finally stir. “Boy, those kids get up earlier every day!” I grumble. I’m grateful for the waffles with too much syrup, as well as the hot coffee served in the tall reindeer mug I received as a Christmas gift from one of our paper route customers. Soon, I’ll be sitting at my desk, right over there, tapping away…trying to create something that resembles “a living”. My irrational insistence that I do this totally without a formal education or collaboration from anyone except God, weighs heavy on my maternal instincts today. Those poor kids of mine are taking a back seat to my work, again.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. When we married fourteen years ago, our hearts were overflowing for each other and the family we were going to be blessed with. We would homeschool our children for all the right reasons and both of us would be available to shape and mold our young charges all the way through their adult years. Daddy would bond with the boys for at least half of every day and I would teach the girls how to be perfect wives and mothers; sewing, baking, gardening and the like, rendering every potential spouse the “luckiest” on earth. They would have just the right number of perfect friends because we would hand-pick them ourselves. These superlative children and their utterly ideal spouses would perform a lovely ritual of gratitude, almost worshipping, as they travel down the road to their faultless marriages, parenthood and ministries; waving and blowing kisses to us as they go. What an example we would be to them and everyone their lives touched!

Phone calls from distant lands would evoke tearful “I wish you were here’s”, and my husband would run down to the local travel agent regularly to … Whoa! They’re still here! Okay…so I got a little carried away there. Refocus.

We were blessed alright. Five kids, two dogs, a ferret and a hamster scurry around our very small house trying to avoid auditory charges of discipline at all costs. Messy bedrooms necessitate closed doors, just in case. Who knows when someone from church might drop by to ask if I will grace some unfortunate family with one of those gourmet meals I’m famous for? (Not! If this were true, at least I’d have an excuse for the extra pounds that have mercilessly attached themselves to my middle and backside.) Dirty dishes flow over the edges of the double-well sink, consuming every last inch of available counter space. I’ll get to those as soon as I finish this story. The smelly laundry threateningly creeps toward the kitchen from the adjacent room as my son calculates the distance an egg will travel from his hand to the little pile of cornflakes and sugar on the linoleum floor. “I’m doing a science experiment mom. Look!” “Quick mom, I need the password for the TV…this show is just about to start. Mom! … I have no idea why it’s rated PG-13, there’s nothing wrong with it. Now would you please just put in the password?” Suddenly, a tidal wave of cornflakes and milk hurtles against the bathroom door and trickles slowly to the carpet below. My youngest, hoisting her four-foot frame from the now-soaked hallway floor, looks me square in the eye and announces, “I’m okay!” smiling sheepishly.

As I write this, I’m wondering why my children are not taking care of the chores and dutifully studying. If I had done my job, that’s what they’d be doing, right? At this rate…their future spouses will show up on the doorstep, take a peek in…turn on their heels and run as fast as they can in the other direction. Oops! “Hannah, didn’t I tell you to put that scooter back in the garage?” That dream of Paradise has somehow eluded my grasp for way too many years.

Lord, You have answered my prayers and blessed me with this family. Every girlhood dream, I have realized. I have my family, I homeschool, I work from home. I am surrounded by friends who love me. My husband understands me and somehow is not irritated by the fact that this is so far off the mark. Maybe it’s just that he doesn’t blame me. Our plans were to… “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” … “You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” That still, small voice has somehow struggled through the din, through the chaos to abruptly demand my attention.

As I finish this impromptu prayer, my attention is drawn to LOUD exclamations…no, it’s singing coming from the living room. “LORD, I LIFT YOUR NAME ON HIGH! LORD, I LOVE TO SING YOUR PRAISES! I’M SO GLAD YOU’RE IN MY…” As I approach my children, still clad in my pajamas and holding tightly my coffee, I’m greeted with shouts of, “Look mom! We’re going to sing together in the talent show at church. Sit there on the couch and watch us. Please?!!”

How could I question? My prayer answered itself. I HAVE realized all my girlhood dreams. I AM a high achiever in this world. Know why? I put God in charge many years ago when I accepted Him as my Savior. Yes, my Savior…He has saved me from self-destruction, from my self-serving agenda. He directs my paths. If I sometimes wander off the path, He gently nudges me back in the right direction. If I lose sight of my purpose…He quietly reminds me. Today, He showed me that I AM a successful mom. My children love Him. They sing His praises. They are grateful that He is in their lives. I have done my job. One day I will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant… Enter into the joy of your Lord.” -Amen!

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Member Comments
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Joyce Poet 20 Jan 2006
It was all I could do to bite back the tears... as the same still small voice whispered through the threatening clouds of despair over the crumbling of my own ideas about how my now-grown children "should have" turned out... "...work together for the good of those..." And somehow, even through the cruel clutches of disappointment, hope prevails.


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