Sure, I’m using some hyperbole. And yet on many evenings, I’m up late sifting through these surprising thoughts and emotions. And googling.
After all, what started this cascade of failure were just simple hermit crabs. Crabs! The “model first pet”! Just feed and water these free-to-us creatures!
Maybe my new mom hormones were still in play since Ariel hadn’t quite reached her three month milestone? I’ll confidently care for any mammal or newborn over hermit crabs, which are related to insects. Yup, beach bugs with gills. At least mammals’ circulatory systems help regulate their body temperatures in less than ideal environments! Hermies will die if the humidity/temperature balance is off, suffocating to death in dry air...
Place of Stress?Five years ago, Nick and I had the blessing of being evaluated by Crosspoint Ministry using the Enneagram spiritual tool -- Nick’s employer at the time required it for his area team, and offered for spouses to take the assessment as well -- so helpful! It explains the uniqueness of a person within types, and exposes particular challenges to certain types. When stressed and in an unhealthy place, one of these three motivators is in play: either Shame, Fear, or Anger. My personality type is located under the Heart triad, so it's liability is Shame. In other words,
What if I killed these crabs, instead of helping them?
And even worse, what if someone found out?
I would be a CRAB KILLER.
For my personality type, the inability to help effectively feels horrible. But that’s also the antidote; Sabbath rest is the antidote to a stressed, over-doing it person in my situation. Sabbath rest is leaning into an identity as a loved, adopted child of God, who is loved by him regardless of what I do. Sabbath rest is letting God do the effective work in others’ hearts and lives.
Care: How Am I Doing?Five years have passed since Abigail joined our family, and parenting balance between meeting my kids’ needs and self-care had been found… until caring for hermit crabs disrupted my mental focus. I found myself dwelling on every detail of their care, and googling expert crabber pages to make sure everything in the crabitat is fine. An hour would pass at the end of the day just sitting and watching the crabs’ feeler wars and top-dog king of the hill posturing, instead of going to bed at a reasonable hour.
I felt like a first time parent during those critical first twelve newborn weeks… only these are really land crabs.
It’s settled down now, as we enter the fourth week. All crabs have burrowed and are likely molting in the deep substrate. The hardiest survivor kept his predictable nightly rounds of the crabitat and then burrowed also. He hasn’t seemed interested in digging up his tank friends in order to cannibalize soft, molting crab… I hope.
It makes me think of parenting, and how every new season of development requires new knowledge and parenting adjustments. I’m betting that God created crabs to do their molting thing without my interference. I’m resting on prayer as the biggest “help” the older each child gets.
At some point, my knowledge and ability to help will always give out, but God’s is endless.
You can repeat that back to me all of this week and summer. Abigail enters preschool summer school through the local public school district TOMORROW. And she’ll be in full day kindergarten in early August. Evan will enter three mornings a week preschool in the fall. All this is great for their social, academic, and personal care skills, plus those mornings that the older ones are in school will be precious times with Ariel. She’s blossoming now with her cooing, gurgles, and full body wiggles to get our attention.
The part of me that’s both a mom AND a teacher wishes I could be my kid’s teacher. Well, that thought doesn’t occur all day, every day. In the still moments at the end of the day, when I shift gears to prep for the next day, I can always come up with something I wish had gone better or new learning that’s in progress and needs approach tweaking (you know, like that nap transition thing Evan’s going through). It’s the reflective teacher part of me that’s spent so many years teaching and tutoring to help individual students reach that next goal. With Abigail entering full time school, large parts of her day are inaccessible to me. Ultimately, that will be okay -- and healthy -- and among all her teachers, she’ll only ever have one mom like me. Ultimately, I’ll be okay with many things that others will teach all my kids, and the opportunities that are opening up with the younger kids.
But don’t just tell me that teachers are great at their jobs as a way of comforting me. I’m a teacher, and I know how much I fail and come up short. Tell me that God is Truth, and Love, and Strength, and Endless. His care is the best.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues,they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 1 Corinthians 13