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I was trying to roll a thin sticky cookie dough like a cinnamon roll and let’s just say it was a lot harder than it looked. My mom was watching and I could tell by the way she was really leaning in, shifting her feet and giving me frequent unsolicited advice that I was driving her nuts.
Unable to operate underneath the heaviness of her presence I asked, “Um, would you like to give this a try?”
She booted me out of the way and grabbed hold of the dough. With her long fingernails, she started to attack it much like Edward Scissorhands giving haircuts. It was the first time I had ever seen cookie dough look like it had been through a paper shredder.
Although my arms were folded and my lips pursed, I could hardly judge her. It drives me nuts to see someone doing something wrong, or slowly, or struggling, like when opening a pickle jar. “Here, gimmie,” I say all cocky and annoyed. Never mind every time I open a pickle jar I’m hunched over, grunting, popping out hemorrhoids.
It’s a whole new terrifying ballgame, however, when it’s not a person, but my circumstances running amok. Like when my bank account looks like a looted Walgreens, or I’m about to lose something I’ve invested years of my life into. Rocking babies with high fevers. Getting the call it’s a no. A yeast infection, of all bloody things!
All you have to do is add kids who have meltdowns because I put milk in their cereal, a bulldog who will only rub his butt across my expensive rug or tripping over my husband’s slippers every time I enter a room – and as Anne Lamott says, I start acting like a “schizophrenic traffic cop with a mission and bullhorn.”
The trouble is, booting people out of the way and getting my sticky little fingers over everything is exhausting work. Like wading in the middle of the ocean, trying to empty it with a dixie cup. But it makes me feel like I’m at least doing something to save the sinking ship, so I keep trying. And trying. And trying …
There’s a paragraph in Anne Lamott’s “Operating Instructions” where she says, “I heard this old man speak when I was pregnant, someone who had been sober for fifty years, a very prominent doctor. He said that he’d finally figured out a few years ago that his profound sense of control, in the world and over his life, is another addiction and a total illusion. He said that when he sees little kids sitting in the backseat of cars, in those car seats that have steering wheels, with grim expressions of concentration on their faces, clearly convinced that their efforts are causing the car to do whatever it is doing, he thinks of himself and his relationship with God: God who drives along silently, gently amused, in the real driver’s seat.”
Frankly, I’d just prefer God tell us his plans. Or just for once, showed up early. But He doesn’t. Something about developing faith blah blah blah.
But if it’s true, that I’m really just a child in the backseat, grabbing hold of the pretend wheel, – maybe I can just let it go? Sit back, relax and let something bigger than myself help me.
I’ll still stomp my foot down if God’s a little late on the brake. I’m only human.