Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Life Lessons from an Apothecary Jar

This table sits at the bottom of the stairs, with the big heavy mirror sitting on it and propped against the wall.

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For Christmastime, the display looked more or less like this. There are the stairs in the mirror. Also note the apothecary jar on the left with the ceramic alphabet balls.

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A couple of weeks ago I was sitting, where else?, at the computer, which is around the corner and out sight from the bottom of the stairs. Suddenly, a terrific crashing noise pierced the air along with the sound of shattering glass.

I flew around the corner, to find one of these sitting amidst the rubble.

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The mirror was facedown on the floor along with all of the decorative items. I arrived on the scene at the same time as did a crying child, saying “Sorry Mama! Sorry, Mama!”. Said child had purposely sent the ball down the staircase.

Too late for apologies. I was already unglued.

My reaction, while it won an Oscar for best drama, was not pretty. Nor was it proportional to the crime. No, it took on a life of its own, looming over the situation in such a way that it became the main offense.

I was worried about my stuff. I thought it was all destroyed. As it turned out, it wasn’t so bad. My white cake plate was chipped, and so was the little cottage. The mirror, surprisingly, was intact, but the apothecary jar was garbage. I was especially upset about that jar.

In the calm after the storm, as I picked up the shards of glass and gathered up the ceramic balls (all intact), I found the lid to the jar, unbroken.

I needed a place to put the alphabet balls. I had this jar…maybe the lid would fit.

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It did fit, and now I have this. And I like it better all the way around: I like this jar better with a lid than without, and I like this lidded jar better than the original apothecary jar.

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But so what? For a few moments I let my love of stuff come before the feelings of my child. There is no doubt in my mind that none of us will ever forget that moment. The children (because all three of them reacted to it) hopefully, one day, will laugh ruefully and say “remember that time…”.

And I, even though I have asked for forgiveness from the child and from God, will always feel shame when I think of it.

I’m not coming to any grand and wise conclusion here; this article isn’t going to make it into any parenting magazines. I just hope that this experience will help me to remember to keep first things first. The house isn’t first. Decorating isn’t first. That stuff is all for the people who live here. They are first.

The rest is just stuff.

31 comments:

Nancy said...

Yep,they are. But we've all been there, ya know? For a brief moment we react so quickly without really thinking first. At least you realize that!

Nancy

debbie said...

I've jumped after something like that, but like you realized I overreacted. It happens. And hopefully you remember it the next time.

design_aholic said...

Wow, Holly, I totally know where you're coming from. But, you know what's good? You know now. And, what's even better is that you shared your story, and that everyone that reads it tonight, or whenever will probably take a deep breath, and an extra second before reacting. :) I like these kinds of posts...

-A

Amy@TheLemonCottage said...

A dear friend gave me some advice when I was pregnant... she told me that when I find myself in that situation (and I would!) to grab the camera before I blew up. (of course, making sure the child is okay first)... looking at it through the camera slows you down, takes the inital anger away and I have found that it totally works for me.
And, I've documented some really ridiculous/hilarious things that happen around here!

LOL
~Amy

Karen at Nittany Inspirations said...

Sorry that some of your items were damaged, but I'm glad that you ended up with a repurposed jar and in the end nothing was too bad and no one got hurt.

Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

I like the second look too, but I know just how you feel!! :) I have wailed like a banshee at T for breaking my stuff before. :s Once, when he was mowing the lawn (!!) he wasn't paying attention and tripped over my wrought iron planter and totally bent it up. I was ready to kill him....

Miss Obara said...

I think we've all been there! Don't be so hard on yourself. You reacted because you love them...some kids don't get any reaction and look how they turn out!
You've been forgiven and you've grown from it! and I'm pretty sure....they still love you!

Bonnie @ House of Grace said...

I love everything you do. The jars are so pretty every way!!!

Lucy Marie said...

We've all been there. I don't have kids yet, but as I said in my e-mail, I have had more than one time where my reaction to one of my "things" getting ruined by someone else who lives in this house as been less than stellar. I am sure your kids WILL look back on that and laugh some day. It will be one of their "crazy mom" stories :)

Miss Obara said...

P.S. I know what will cheer you up? A Thrift Store Thursday party!! I found some great things this week and would love to share!
*smiles*

Pam said...

I think we've all won an Academy Award for best drama at some point(s). You're right, it's never pretty. But, thank God, for forgiveness and that he's big enough to keep our kids from being permanently scarred. Hopefully, we can learn from the experience and not repeat it. Don't beat yourself up. Just learn from it and move on. Chin up and have a good day.

Hugs,
Pam

Happy Cottage Quilter said...

Oh Holly, thanks for sharing your heart and being transparent. I remember having a similar reaction years ago. I don't remember the details, but I do remember the hurt look in my daughters eyes. You are so right, the things are not what is important. It is the people who live here.

Jocelyn
http://justalittlesouthernhospitality.blogspot.com/

Erin said...

Thank you for being so transparent. It's a good lesson to learn, and one that I hope I remember when it's my turn to blow up. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Oh, been there, done that! But, I think sometimes it's good for kids to know that throwing a big ball down the stairs could lead to something getting broken, and maybe they shouldn't do that anymore? If you threw something into their room and broke their Lego tower that they spent a day building, they would probably be upset, too. Thank you for this post! L.

Miss Mustard Seed said...

I'm with you, there. My 3 year old is in the habbit of coming to me proudly proclaiming, "I broke dis." He's usuall carrying some pretty decorative item that I did not want broken. Sigh. He's also ripped a hole in the back of my antique French caned rocker. Another sigh. So, I need to remember that I love him more than my stuff. And I don't want him to ever thing otherwise.

But that boy does need to learn! :)

gina said...

Nobody's perfect, our children nor us. At least when push comes to shove- you see it clearly! :)

ba and the boys said...

i have been there...at times daily. at least you said sorry. so many adults feel that they dont need to appologize to their kids...

Kimba said...

Really great post. We've all been there. I've won a few Drama Queen awards myself. I will say that it's helped me relate a little more when my older son starts weeping and wailing because he little brother broke something of his.

Laurel @ Ducks in a Row said...

Great post - we lived in an insanely rich area for a couple of years (we were not rich) and learned a big lesson about "things"

ImagineCozy said...

Oh Holly, we have all had moments like that. Thank you for the reminder about what is REALLY important.
-Angela

Country Dreaming said...

Oh, how quick we are to react when things like this happen. We've all been there and it isn't pretty but it's another one of life's lessons to learn from. Hard but true. Been there done it.

Melinda

Summer Miller said...

I have been in that situation before where you feel like you're having an out of body experience. Each time I react like that I try to say, "they'e children, they're more important".

Rebecca D said...

I grew up in a "yelling" house and try my hardest no to yell, but occasionally I have what my girlies call a "psycho moment"... never pretty. Thankfully this happens rarely, but the fact they have a name for it isn't a good sign. I don't understand how we can get so mad a those we love the most...

Dogmom Diva said...

Holly, I am new to your blog...I relate to your post..my sons are both adults now and wow I have had my fill of those kind of moments..now that I am older, it is just STUFF. I tried when they were young not to have much out and about in the house that was valuable in case it did break. A house it to live in, its your home. But you did the right thing, apologize to the child in question, and don't beat yourself up. After all, we are only human! Hang in there, this won't be the first or the last...

Herself said...

Just found your blog and am glad I did!
Parenting isn't something we just know how to do perfectly, is it? The best part of your post is that you "got it." If you didn't, now that would be scary! Stop by anytime for a visit!

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

Oh, man, I think we've all been there! I remember when my son was little and threw a ball in the kitchen (where throwing balls was strictly prohibited, of course) and broke one of my favorite little pitchers. Ugh. My reaction wasn't pretty.

It is good to remember that "stuff" isn't that important in the scheme of things--especially when you have kids in the house! Ha.

Rhiannon Banda-Scott said...

What a great story! Thank you for sharing with us :)

Lynn said...

I just lucked into this blog a few days ago and so I am only assuming your kids are little. Maybe it would help to hear, as one with teens and a tween can tell you, that as traumatic as the melt down seemed to you they really won't remember it! Kids are such gifts but they are also so danged self absorbed.
I have asked my girls if it they remember a similar Academy Award winning scene I performed once. Nada.
I agree with those above that your remorse and grace after the fact teaches them that we are but human.
And flawed.
Genuine "Sorry (s)" are what is important.

Anonymous said...

thank you so much! i really needed to hear this today:o)

michaela said...

Your style of writing makes everything so relatable and I really appreciate your wisdom. Thank you.

Anne~Fiona and Twig said...

Well said! It *is* all just stuff, and I'm one of the worst offenders when it comes to forgetting that.

I'm so happy to have discovered your blog, I found you through a list of link parties I had bookmarked. You have such a lovely blog, very nice to meet you!

All the best,
Anne