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Thursday, April 20, 2017

"Out of Control:" Chapter 14

For the explanation of my current series, go to the first installment: http://bit.ly/2nnCvFx

Out of Control:
A Christian Parent’s Victorious Struggle with Child Abuse

A Memoir by Kathy Collard Miller

Chapter 14

Love Is...

July 10th

"Honey, I just have to thank you again for the wonderful surprise party. That was something else. You really did surprise me." Larry wrapped his arms around me, squeezing tightly.

"I was really excited planning it," I said, returning his smile. "Just wait until you see the movies of you walking in that door. You won't believe the amazed look on your face."

But Larry's appreciative words weren't what I really wanted. Had he spent more time with me this week? No! He had been just as consumed by his work as usual. What did I have to do to get his attention anyway? Kill myself?

When Agnes and Neil's invitation came a week later inviting us to a neighborhood barbecue, I thought, This will be Larry's opportunity to show me how appreciative he is.

When I mentioned the invitation to Larry, he replied, "Unfortunately, I already told Fred I'd work to repay him for a time he worked for me. I'm really sad I have to miss it."

I turned away disappointed. Now, Kathy, don't get upset. He didn't do it on purpose; it just happened. Don't blame him; it's not his fault.

Even though I realized it wasn't his choice to work, I wanted to blame him.

When Saturday arrived, Larry got ready to leave. Walking over to me, he commented, "Honey, I'm really sorry I can't go to the barbecue with you. It sounds like a lot of fun and I would have enjoyed being with you and the kids."

I stared straight into his eyes. "Really, Larry? Do you mean that? You really would have gone if it hadn't been for your promise to Fred?"

Larry appeared surprised. "Of course, Kathy. Don't you think I want to go?"

My mind raced. I didn't want to get into another argument. How could I share my feelings without complaining?

"Well, it's just I miss you so much and it seems like--you'll notice, I said seems like--every time there is something to do, you have to work. I just wonder sometimes if you even want to be with me and the kids."

Larry's hazel eyes softened. "I'm sorry I give you that impression. But I assure you I really do want to be with you. As soon as we get on our feet financially, I'll have more time to spend with you. I promise."

For the first time, I believed him. He really did want to be with us. I decided I would stop complaining and trust his love for me from then on. 

Later as neighbors enjoyed the barbecue, I sat down beside Ted, with Darcy between us. She immediately chomped on her hot dog. No wonder she's hungry, she ran around like crazy.

Ted brushed Darcy's bangs back from her sweaty forehead. "Darcy, you're such a good little girl."

Pride welled up within me. "Yes, Darcy is a good little girl. Although she does sometimes remind me of the little girl in the nursery rhyme who when she was good was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid."

Ted laughed.

Kissing Darcy on the top of her head, the love I felt at that moment brought tears to my eyes. I really do love you, Darcy.

But then guilt snickered inside me. How can you say you love her when you teat her so badly? Confused poked, What kind of love hits and kicks and slaps and ...

As the battle continued in my mind, I wondered, "Why do I hate her so much when she's naughty? Can love exist alongside hate?"

Then a long lost memory surfaced of attending a conference where the speaker said, "Love is a choice for the highest good of the person."

That's the answer. Love is a choice, not a feeling. I do love Darcy. I just have to learn to express my love in choices for her good.

Later, sitting around a picnic table, I visited with several neighbors who were in the Bible study. Mary asked, "Kathy, how are you doing controlling your anger? I've been praying for you."

"Well, uh..." I forced a smile and my face grew hot. "I have my ups and downs. When Darcy makes mistakes and does dumb things I have the hardest time."

"Kathy, I think that's because she's a child." Julie spoke up. 

"Yea, I know," I replied, "but it's so aggravating."

"I agree, Kathy," Mary said. "I once made a list based on a child development book of everything a child Jeremy's age might do, like spill milk, or not pick up his toys, or not share. I put the list on the refrigerator and instead of getting angry, I put a check beside that behavior. I still gave him consequences but I realized he wasn't doing it on purpose."

Everyone murmured their approval.

"Wow, Mary," I whispered as I fought tears. "That's a great idea. I'll do it."

Julie commented, "I'm so excited. Emily is finally potty trained. It took so long and there were several times I gave up realizing she wasn't ready. That sure diminished my frustration."

I'd also given up potty training Darcy and at least that hadn't been bothering me. But maybe it's time to try again. Later, as I walked home with the kids, I reasoned, "Well, if she doesn't respond right away or I can't handle it, I can always quit. I'm going to do it."

When I made the list of what to expect from an almost-three-year-old for the refrigerator, (Tweet that!) I wrote down, "Darcy will have lots of potty training accidents." For once I felt more confident of something which would help me. Thank you, Lord, for guiding me.

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