The recent shutdown of the government has caused a stir in the media. Facebook has run amok with jokes and quips about individuals shutting down all efforts to pay taxes. The online news is full of standoffs between political parties complete with name calling and mud-slinging. Unofficial polls are rampant across news outlets. Some are happy and others are more unhappy than usual. For all of us, it is a time of uncertainty.
We feel the uncertainty when we make immediate or future plans. We struggle with the big “what if…” Recently, I went on a little road trip to attend a woman’s conference and to see my new grandson. My planning was tempered with worries about air traffic controllers. I was praying that they would not be shut down while I was away. I wanted to go but I also wanted to return.
On my return, I was greeted with kisses and hugs beyond imagination. Turns out, eight days is a long time for a dad and four kids to remain in the functioning realm. No matter how detailed the schedules or well documented the tasks, it was immediately apparent that while I was out traveling, our family suffered their own small shutdown.
The kitchen was entirely SHUTDOWN. Supper plans, menus, and leftovers were ditched for Burger King. Actually, the kitchen cabinets were still wet from the quick wipe, as I entered the house. The laundry room, SHUTDOWN during the week, suddenly cranked up as my plane hit the runway. Floor sweeping and trash bagging were not even on the radar.
On a positive note, there had been stabs at completing homework and the transportation plans were evidently implemented as they arrived at school each day and came home each evening. Not sure what they were wearing or how clean it was, but still and all not a total shutdown in the educational sector.
I knew I could not make a hasty assessment of the week just by looking at the house and all of the unusual cleaning activities taking place in my kitchen last Friday night. I would need to apply a filtering system of the kids’ conversations to better understand why and how the shutdown occurred. Over the next few days I listened as we returned to “normal.” The details that I sensed, but could not see, came to me through their innocent voices.
“We were only late to school one morning.” I nodded and told the 7 year old that it was OK to be late now and then.
“Dad kept stopping at Burger King. He said it was easier than cooking,” reported the 14 year old.
“Yeah, can we keep doing that?” added the ten year old. I asked him if he thought he might get tired of Burger King when the basement renter interrupted, “Uhhh…Yes. We are tired of Burger King! We love you mom and we need some REAL FFFooooodddd.” I am sure he simultaneously posted on fb even as he implored me for food.
It took a few days and one HUGE trip to Walmart to resolve our small shutdown. As I unloaded 43 slippery bags from Walmart, I thought about how lucky I was to have a family that missed me when I was gone. Sure, I had some extra work to do before I left and lots of extra chores now that I had returned, but what if I came home and the house was spotless with a pot of yummy something on the stove? You know I would have had a conniption fit. First, because I would have thought I was in the wrong house and second, because I would be worried about where he got the money to pay another woman to clean my house!
Maybe, just maybe, we all need occasional shutdowns to help us recognize the little, everyday blessings in our lives.