Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Grs

My in-laws, who my children lovingly refer to as "the Grs," came into town tonight to spend a week with us and to attend Mack's baptism on Saturday.  They are delightful to have around.  The Spirit in our home is noticeably different from the moment they walk in the door.

They were scheduled to arrive on the busiest night of the week for us...right in the middle of a Young Women's activity that I was obligated to attend and a Young Men's activity that the Scout Master was obligated to attend.  We divided up duties and kids, and somehow managed to get dinner on the table, fulfill our church responsibilities, drop youth off at their homes, tidy up the house, and get to the airport on time to pick up the Grs.  
(That's the edited version of the story.)

(Here's how the day really looked...)
The day was stressful for me from the beginning.  Chores, groceries, a new calling, the seminary carpool deciding after we had already made the schedule for the whole year that she no longer wants to carpool with us, and endless other little distractions all contributed to a rough start to the day.   So when the kids eventually came home from school, I was slightly irritable.  OK that might be an understatement.  I tend to run at a high stress level when I'm expecting company (and for me company = anyone who comes to my house.  There have been times when I have gone into a frantic cleaning tornado just for the cable guy.)  I was in one of those tornadoes this afternoon...frantically trying to get dinner on the table, clean the house, make an amazing appetizer to take to the Personal Progress activity that night, and get out the door on time. 

And then at 6:55pm, I officially lost my mind.
Sometime between 4:30pm when we got home from school to the time we walked out the door, TCD sent me a TEXT that her friend needed a ride to YW's.  I think I've mentioned to her at least a few hundred times that texting isn't the best way to communicate with me when we're both IN THE HOUSE!  And when I'm in the middle of a cleaning tornado, checking my phone isn't at the top of my list.  Needless to say, I didn't get the text.  I had meticulously planned exactly 5 minutes to make the 5 minute drive to the church.  It was my first official combined activity since receiving this new calling so I felt pressure to get there on time.  I didn't have any extra minutes to drive to the other side of the ward and make an unexpected pick up.  I was frustrated.  I was irritable.  I was late.  And I made a rash, impetuous decision.  I said, "Forget it.  Text her back and tell her that it's your fault I didn't get the message on time and that I can't pick her up."  

UGH!!  I was trying to make a point.  I was trying to remind TCD of the difference between a chauffeur and her mother.  I was trying to teach her to have a little more consideration for other people.  But that's not what I did...

We arrived at the church just in time to sit for 10 minutes while we waited for chairs to be put up, leaders to arrive, and hymns to be selected.  (I found out later that's the typical schedule...7:10ish for opening exercises.) That's when I fell apart.  I felt terrible that in my effort to make a point, I had jeopardized another girl's opportunity to participate in an awesome activity.  And when I noticed that TCD was avoiding me from across the room, I felt an overwhelming surge of guilt that not only had I NOT made my point; but by being in YWs I had also taken away her "safe place" where she would normally have said something like, "My mother is a freak today."  I cried through all of opening exercises.  All the girls thought that either someone had died or that I was having a nervous breakdown.  I did nothing to help build their testimonies or to increase their love of Personal Progress.  It would have been better if I had just stayed home.  

When we finally did make it back home, and the Scout Master walked in with the Grs a few minutes later, the remains of the day were apparent.  There were crumbs under my kitchen table, dark circles under my eyes from crying all night, one upset daughter upstairs, and two more insanely excited ones downstairs.  And do you know what???  None of those things mattered to the Grs at all.  They were only interested in hugging all of us and finding out about the details of our lives.  Even though we were all a little edgy, they were still willing to unpack their things and stay for the rest of the week.  It didn't matter that there were dust bunnies under their bed or that my husband and I had been bickering for the better part of two days.  My father-in-law still hugged me and said, "Hello, Favorite Daughter-in-law!"  (He says that to all of us.)  They were just happy to be here. 

I love those Grs!  They are unconditional and infinitely patient.  They love my children even when they haven't showered for three days.  They are kind and understanding and they try always to do the right thing.  They praise more than they criticize.  They never run faster than they have strength.  They're not perfect, but they've learned a lot in their 70+ years.  They would have picked up TCD's friend, and saved the "point making" for later. 

I am so grateful for the perspective and the Spirit they bring when they visit.  I love that they get to stay for a whole week.  And I hope that after they go back to Mendon, a little of that wonderful Spirit stays in our home.  

Lessons learned...hopefully:
  1. People always come first.  
  2. Stuff is way down the list.  
  3. And...after company walks through the front door, they never know if the dirt was there before they came, or if they brought it with them.

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