blessed are the peacemakers…

For the next 6 weeks I’ll be reposting pieces I’ve written over the years. These are a few examples of essays that will find themselves expanded with fresh air and correct punctuation then placed lovingly into the book I hope to publish through Kickstarter. If you like what you read I hope you will share it any way you can so that the book can become a reality! It’s time to flex those social media muscles and get the word  out, friends!

I wrote this a couple of years ago while in the throes of parenting small chaos makers. I felt helpless and out of control. Lord knows, I’ve matured since then, well, in theory. I do still lay down on the floor when everything falls apart.

 

 

Blessed are the Peacemakers

I have always been a peacemaker.

When I was a kid and people would argue I would try to fill the gap. I was small, though and I didn’t know that a child cannot fill gaps left by grown ups, especially when the grown ups do not want that gap filled.

So I contented myself to mediate the arguments of my siblings. This was not a welcomed practice but I kept it up even though it hurt me time after time. No one had asked for mediation. There was no gold medal at the end of the process, no reward, no return.

Looking back it’s hard for me to imagine just what made me think I had gained any proficiency in peacemaking. I did not possess the ninja skills of negotiation I’d always thought I was honing throughout my childhood. The reality is that I never accomplished much as a peacemaker. I would throw up my hands in despair when my efforts were both unfruitful AND unappreciated. The problems of the people I was mediating became my own problems and their emotions, my emotions.

Now that I am a parent I realize I am suffering from this same disease. I find myself trying to make peace between my children. I try logic, I try kindness, I try threats and then when those don’t work I throw up my hands in despair and bellow to no one in particular “what am I doing in this nut house?”

Once, a few weeks ago I was so overwrought that I actually just laid face down on the floor until they stopped arguing. Sadly, this only stopped the flow of bickering for about a minute and then they were back at it again. But, while lying on the floor I had a revelation. Am I attempting to be the peacemaker with these children or the peacekeeper?

When I consider Peacekeepers I am reminded of policemen and soldiers in foreign countries, enforcing laws that someone else has made, laws and rules made by the real rulers, the real peaceMAKERS. Their purpose is clear, the authority is granted, and the rules are in order.

My trouble, I mused during my humble siesta on the hardwood floor, is that I’ve been trying to be the peaceKEEPER in a land where the peaceMAKERS have made no laws. I have not laid out the guidelines; although I suppose I thought, “don’t hit the dog with a shovel” would be a no brainer, in a household of “spirited children” apparently it needs to be said.

The people I am dealing with here in “nuthouse central” do not know the simple laws of household civility. I had some expectation that they would come hard-wired with this. It was not until I threw myself to the floor in a fit of despair that I realized my job was impossible without the groundwork laid. How can I enforce laws that do not exist?

So, by way of example- Say one brother hits another brother because he’s annoyed. My typical response has been, “Why on EARTH would you hit him? ” The hitter feels remorse for a moment, gives big weepy looks my way and then wails a loud “I’m sorry!”

Well, what then? Apologies all around, forgiveness ensues, everyone’s happy. Except me, because 5 minutes later someone is hitting someone else. So I shout, “the rule is that we don’t hit each other!” as if there is a scribe following me around putting this royal decree down in fine, flowery print and posting to the wall for all to see.

Unfortunately, there is no scribe, no scroll, no hammering of things to the wall after my loud and lofty proclamations. There is no follow through on my part and I’ve come to realize it’s all about the follow through.

Instead of follow through I have mommy brain. I have dogs eating cell-phones and children removing their own dirty diapers during the time period that “follow through” is meant to happen. In the moment I am glad that we have all come out the other side without a trip to the emergency room or a visit from the fire department.

And then later, when things are quiet, when the kids are in bed and the world is blurry I consider nailing that scroll to the wall. In desperation, thinking that we need to “do something” I reach out for ideas and I think, we need a chart, we need a sign, we need a reminder. I find things online, like the “IF/THEN chart.”  The idea runs something like this; “If you hit someone…then….{insert punishment here.}”

I imagine this wonderful scenario in which someone commits an off-limits act and I calmly walk to the wall chart. “Oh, juvenile arson…well that’s 2 weeks without {insert beloved time passer here.}” It seems perfect, just what I need to make this family really work as they bow to my iron fist.

Unfortunately even as I contemplated the “ifs” and “thens” I began to think of 35 reasons that this will not work however, and they all have to do with the “follow through.” Damn, the Follow Through, it’s never been my strongpoint. With that thought then, I’m already defeated. I am no Jimmy Carter. I am no Chuck Norris. It seems I can neither make nor keep the peace in this place. And it is there, lying in bed in the quiet and the calm that I come to myself again. I find myself in that heavy sigh of motherhood, that “I hope we all survive this well” moment.

It is here that I have to turn away from what I do poorly and turn toward what I know. I know that my kids are healthy at the moment. I know that they are learning. I know that despite strong words and occasional hitting that they are kind. I know that despite my missteps, my lacking, my temper, my shortage of signage and my laying down on the floor when things are too crazy, I know that my children are forgiving. With that in my head, with that drifting down into my heart’s memory I find my follow through. I realize then, that I am able to reach out to take hold with both hands that peace I’ve been seeking all along. I may never be a peacemaker, I may never be a peacekeeper. The most I can hope for is to be able to recognize peace when it knocks at the door and choose to let it in.

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If you like this piece and would like to see it in

the Mrs Metaphor Kickstarter funded book…

let me know and help make it happen!

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