Not all that long ago, maybe a few weeks, my Mom and I went Christmas shopping together. She made mention of wanting to find some wool socks for my Dad. We talked about Smart wool and other brands and where to get them. She also brought up the fact that she had gone to an indoor craft-show type event where there was a woman with a booth selling socks made from Alpaca fur. They seemed very warm and much like what my Dad would enjoy wearing but she hadn’t purchased any of them. We proceeded with our shopping and wrapped up the holiday season.
Over the course of the Christmas break from school, our teenagers proved, in certain circumstances, to be just that, teenagers. We had fun, we laughed, we bumped heads, we lost privileges, we got frustrated with one another…it was a bit nutty, to say the least. One night, one of the kids and I got into it. And I mean into it. It was super late, and I realized that once again, this particular kiddo changed the time on their cell phone to avoid the Screen time app from kicking in and shutting the phone down from use for the night. I must admit, this was not the first time and I was pissed. What I should have done and what I did, were two different things. We yelled at each other and we said not very kind-hearted things. Needless to say, it was not my proudest moment and I would not have won any parenting award that night. Don’t worry, we eventually ended up snuggling on the couch and apologizing to one another but maaaannnn, that took its toll on me for a few days after.
The book “My Teenager is Not Crazy”, teaches parents about the high-high’s and low-low’s these kiddos experience during this season of life…well that was one of them. What the book doesn’t teach you is how these emotional roller coasters make you feel. To be honest, this punched me in the gut so hard that I couldn’t speak of it for a few days and when I finally chatted with my mom, I was a sobbing mess. A mess about some of the things that were said to me and about my reaction to my child.
She provided me with some wisdom and helpful guidance that you can only get from a parent. She also offered me the grace that comes from unconditional love. Thanks Mom. Forward movement.
Where we live there are quite a few different types of eccentric little stores and businesses in our downtown area. Some on the West side and some on the East, each offering their own creative versions of anything from old-fashioned candy to anything you can think of for your dog to old vinyl records to furniture to cold-pressed juices, I could go on. I, personally, am a big fan of the cold-pressed juice. While grabbing a wellness shot or Master cleanse, I happened to notice the Alpaca store front right next door. I quickly snapped a photo of it and texted it to my mom. My intention with that was to offer up a place for her to find my Dad his warm, fuzzy socks.
She, on the other hand, noticed the smiling, stuffed Alpacas in the front window. Much to my surprise, the next message I received from her was something to the effect of “you should buy one of those”. I laughed and responded with “an Alpaca?” To be transparent, my first thought was of an upcoming trip my family is taking where I asked my parents to be so kind as to house just one of our two dogs, so the thought of saying, “and oh by the way, meet Jeff, the Alpaca” made me laugh out loud to myself in the car.
Nevertheless, she suggested I buy one and put it in the corner of our bedroom so that when any one of the kids is challenging, I could go in our room, look at the Alpaca, count to ten, say a prayer and then address an issue. Once I’ve done so, I am to go back and say thank you to the Alpaca. Brilliance. Patience and Gratitude in the form of a smiling, stuffed animal. Whatever works, right?
That reminds me of the book Everybody Always, by Bob Goff. (love me some Bob Goff). In the book, Bob admits he’s not the most patient person in the world. He decides, for a time, that he will walk around, every day, carrying a bucket. This bucket is to remind him that when he’s feeling frustrated or lacking patience, he needs to fill up his bucket back up with patience. An Alpaca might not be a bucket, but I think I found my spirit animal, albeit stuffed.
We are all on a growth journey in this thing called Life. When we offer up unconditional love and grace to one another, we love more like Jesus. We also need to remember to offer the same to ourselves. Be well.
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