Robotic earrings: on handling the unexpected

Could it be that my earring is robotic? I thought, as it magically released itself from my ear and latched on to me with the touch of a finger. Cool!

It was while we were vacationing in Minnesota, after a super active day of fishing and biking. My head hit the pillow in exhaustion. I vaguely noticed I was still wearing my earrings, which I rarely do when I go to bed. Those posts feel like prickly stabs in the side of my head, so by force of habit, I always remove them. But that night I was too tired to bother. 

In the middle of my sleep, the poking sensation by my ear was enough to stir me, so I reached up to take out my earrings. With the touch of a finger, the earring came off my ear. It was also vibrating, moving and latching on to my fingertips. In my sleepy stupor, I assumed somehow I had acquired a new robotic earring. Setting this new-fangled apparatus down on the nightstand, I heard its tiny motor still buzzing. 

At this point, I was half-awake and became cognizant that my earring should not be buzzing. I sat up, groped for my phone on the nightstand and flipped on the flashlight. There, next to my other belongings was a large black bug. He had long feelers and his wings buzzed against his shiny black torso. 

Fully awake now, I picked up my shoe and started whacking it mercilessly. The ruckus woke Tom who had been sleeping next to me, oblivious to my plight. 

“What’s going on?” 

“I’m killing a bug that I found on my head! I thought it was my earring!” 

Lucky for him, he was only roused by my shoe stomping on the table. Imagine the horror and screaming that would have ensued if I had realized there was a big, ugly bug crawling on my head while I slept!

As I told others my funny/horror story the next day, it occurred to me that it was my ignorance of the monster I was dealing with, that allowed me to face it without fear. Kind of like the way I became a parent.   

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***

I stared at the little device in my hand, waiting for something to happen, but had to look away before my eyes began playing tricks on me. Would I see a blue line? Or would it be blank? Was I pregnant, or would we have to wait another month? I followed the second hand on my watch until the time was up. Then with a deep breath, I slowly let my eyes focus on that little window. 

It was there! The blue line told me the miracle of life was growing inside of me! I was immediately filled with a sense of relief, joy, and great anticipation. I couldn’t wait to tell Tom. He was as elated as I was and together we started dreaming of all the blessings our little one would bestow on us!

Eight or so months later, reality hit. The pain of childbirth and weariness of sleep-deprived nights. Dealing with colic and temper tantrums. Experiencing near-constant anxiety and fear over my baby’s safety and well-being. Of course, there was also plenty of joy in watching him grow and learn and I wouldn’t have traded him for the world. But if I had known all the tears I would cry, the pain, frustration, and worry that was to come when that pregnancy test read positive, my joy might have been tempered with a little more fear and trepidation.

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We survived being first-time parents, and so we went for a second. And a third. And then a fourth. We knew there would be difficult times and unexpected trials ahead. It was a risk we were willing to take for the wildness and wonder we’d come to enjoy and the children we loved more than we could imagine. Feeling experienced, each time we assumed we were going in with our eyes wide open.

But with each new baby, new blessings surprised us. And unexpected challenges faced us head-on. With each one, God called us to depend on Him a little more.

Yes, each baby brought a new set of parenting issues. But unlike that nasty bug-in-the-night, the baby was not a monster to be squashed. Nor a tiny robot to be programmed. Each baby was a child of God, to be molded and shaped after His purposes.

And me? Same goes. As a parent, I changed more than I ever knew possible. I was also being molded and shaped. Learning patience, humility, and selflessness. I have a need for control, and a tendency to jump in and take action at the first sign of trouble. I struggle with letting go and trusting God has things under His control.

My kids might be grown now. But I’m still a parent. And I’m still learning.

***

My daughter is acting in a community musical theater production of Oliver! this summer. She has been really hoping a friend of hers will be able to come and see her performance this weekend.

“Don’t get your hopes up. Keep your expectations low,” I advise, concerned that her disappointment if the friend doesn’t show will ruin her weekend.

“Mom, remember my life’s motto?” she says with a tilt of her head.

“No, sorry. I don’t.”

“Expect the unexpected!” Still wearing her stage make-up, she’s lounging on the couch across from me, full of confidence and vitality. This, my little girl who was hit with life’s “triple-whammy,” as we like to call it. ADHD. Scoliosis. And then Type 1 Diabetes. If anyone had to take on monsters-in-the-night, it was this one.

She learned to “let go and let God” far sooner in life than I did.

And while I don’t want tomorrow’s fears to rob her of today’s joy, I’m a mom. “Worry” is still my middle name, and “control” is my job. I remind her, “It’s still not a bad idea to prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario, okay? Then you’ll be surprised if it turns out to be the best. Just know, whatever happens, it’s in God’s hands. And you’re going to be okay.”

“Yep. I got this, Mom.” We say good-night, and I watch her trot off with the spring of hopefulness in her step.

Later, while getting ready for bed, with two hands I remove each earring. First the right. Then the left.

I smile at the thought of a robotic earring and shudder at the thought of a creepy bug on my head. Then I remind myself that whatever happens, I’m in good hands.