Yesterday my daughter told me — again — that she wants her mom back. I wish with all my heart that I could have me back, too.
We had a math crisis in the morning complete with tears, book thumping, and dramatic prostrations across the floor…and that was just me! Seriously, the two of us rubbed each other the wrong way because she had a question that I just could not answer. She was not satisfied with “that’s just the rule” about order of operations and wanted to know WHY the order of operations matters. My own brain just about exploded through my ears as I tried a million ways to explain the fact that there IS an order to follow. Gradually through her tears I saw that she understood and could follow the order…but that wasn’t enough for my inquisitive tween. I became frustrated that I could not figure out the answer. It never occurred to me in my own math “career” (such as it was!) to ask that pesky “why” question. I am a rule follower. Tell me the rule…I follow it. My daughter is a rule challenger. Tell her a rule…she wants to know why it was created, who created it, real life applications of it, etc.
Arugh! At this point I felt as if my back was literally on fire. Tension spread to the muscles in my shoulders, and my stomach clenched so hard it felt like it was fused to my spine. My husband was in a business meeting, so I knew I couldn’t call on him to help.
So I turned to my friends on FaceBook. I’m still astonished at the help we received in the form of phone calls, emailed diagrams, emailed real-life applications, prayers, and posts.
Fast forward an hour or so, and the two of us fidgeted in the car on the way to ice skating practice. The math question had been debated for going on four hours, and I was at my wit’s end with wanting to change the subject and get relief from my pain that flared up.
I don’t know why I’m plagued with fibromyalgia. But I do know that stress makes it much, much worse, as it did yesterday. But I’m coming to the conclusion that perhaps I would be better off suffering in silence. As I told my girl that I needed a break from the conversation because it was stressing me out and causing pain…she broke out into (more) tears and (again) reiterated that she wants her mom back.
This request of hers has been a common refrain ever since I started experiencing pain. She complains that I never laugh (not true, although I don’t as much as I used to), that I am always depressed (pretty often), that I am always in pain (yes, especially low back pain), that she dreads “that time of the month” for me (so do I), and that I am depressing to be around.
Wow. What do I do with that?
Maybe I do need to stop sharing with my family when I hurt. Maybe I should pretend to be happy even when my back is on fire. Maybe I should be a living example of this verse from 1 Peter:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” (1st Peter 4:12-13)
Truly, I have not endured the physical pain of a scourging or of the cross. But I haven’t figured out how to live my life with JOY in the midst of pain and depression. I need to think a bit more on how to rejoice that I participate in the sufferings of Christ. What does that look like, exactly?
The math story has a happy — even witty — ending. As soon as he heard the concern, my husband, whose mind operates in much the same way as hers, quickly explained the reasoning behind order of operations and came up with a funny word problem on the spot to illustrate it.
As she progresses into more advanced math through junior high and high school, I have a feeling my dear husband is going to wear the “Teacher” hat…for our daughter, and for me!