"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

15 October 2011

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

It has been one of those days.

Brennan woke up at 4:30 to nurse, which is relatively normal. I couldn't get to sleep right away after I had put him back in his crib, though, so it was about 6:00 before I finally drifted back into slumber. I woke up at 6:40 again with the alarm Nich had set, because we wanted to get to the semi-annual kids' consignment sale early this year (last year, we got there early-ish, and waited in this LONG line in the cold parking lot for half an hour).

While Nich showered, I went into the kitchen to pack Brennan's breakfast and lunch for our morning out. I heard Brennan stir and then a huge THUMP! I think my heart literally skipped a beat. I raced to the nursery as Brennan started screaming. I scooped him up from where he was lying face down on the carpet in front of his crib, quickly turning on all the lights so I could keep an eye on his pupil dilation and look him over. He seemed okay (other than the crying from the shock and the growing bump on his forehead), but he didn't even want to nurse, so we just cuddled for a while (after letting Nich know what had happened).

We got the sale in plenty of time, with me feeding Brennan in the back of the car and then playing with him so he wouldn't fall asleep (we didn't want him falling asleep until an hour had passed from the time of his fall). Needless to say, he conked out in the Snugli when we got to the sale.

We found most of the items we wanted in good time, despite the crowds, but then discovered that one of the items we most wanted didn't have a sales tag. After scouring the table where we had found it for fifteen minutes, we resigned ourselves to not being able to purchase it. Thankfully, a friend was working the sale and got one of the coordinators to just write up a tag for us.

I was signed up to lead a few tours through an experiential "museum" on poverty that our church had set up for the weekend to go along with our annual all-church study. I think I talked about the Project Experience that we went on last summer at the nation-wide youth conference Nich and I chaperoned. Well, there was no one there for my first tour, so I took Nich and one other person through it. We drove home, and since I had been up since 4:30 this morning, I was exhausted. But we had to get Brennan's crib lowered before his nap. By the time Brennan was in bed, I was hungry, so we had lunch. Nich helped me wash the dishes and diapers so I could pump some milk for Brennan to have while I was gone, and by the time all that was done, it was time for me to head back to church for the afternoon tours.

To which nobody showed up.

When I got home, we started going through our purchases from the sale. One of the things we had bought was a box "set" of Baby Einstein DVDs. It had been taped up with packing tape, so we had naturally assumed that all was in order. Well, when we opened it up, not only was one of the DVDs the wrong one (from the four that were listed on the outside of the box), but one of the DVDs was actually missing. I called the coordinator of the sale, and she asked if I knew who the consignor was (what kind of ridiculous question is that?!). I told her that I obviously didn't, since they take all the tags when we check out at the sale. She responded, "Well, most of the time, people have a general idea of who the consignor is." I wanted to tell her she was full of BS, but obviously, I didn't. I just told her that this was unacceptable and that as the coordinator of the sale, she was still receiving part of the money that we had used to pay for the item, and that we wanted a refund. She just told me to write them an email and if anyone happened to come across the consignment tag that had been on the DVD set, they would issue us a refund. Fat chance of that happening, right?

I know that this is a small thing in the scope of life, and that I'm over-tired and emotional right now ... from thinking about things like poverty, still thinking about Kerry, struggling with feeling judged for being on WIC, worrying about how Brennan will do when I sub (which I don't want to do), thinking about my visa, being overwhelmed with life and money (or the lack thereof). It seems like every time I check the bank account, there's less in there ... even as we keep cutting things out and scrimping and saving. We had set aside money so that we could purchase Brennan's Christmas gifts at this consignment sale. Part of me feels horrible that we can't buy him brand new things. The practical part of me knows that he doesn't know the difference anyway, and the realistic part of me knows that there are many children out there who don't even get Christmas gifts.

But because money is so hard to come by lately (and because we strive so hard to live simply and be frugal so that we can still give to things that are important to us, like Compassion and to Operation Christmas Child), when things like this happen, it just feels like we're being robbed of Nich's hard-earned money. He goes every day to a job he doesn't love so that he can provide for our family. Days like today feel like a senseless waste of that money.

To make it worse, as we were standing in line at the sale today, waiting to pay, a friend looked at the stuff we were buying and said, "Oh, you're a nice mommy. You buy toys. I never buy toys." Nich responded, "We said we weren't going to either, but we figured a few are okay." She said, "That's what grandma and grandpa are for." So I said, "Well, Brennan doesn't have any grandparents around who buy him those things." And she came back with, "Well, grandma and grandpa and uncles and aunts and everyone else."

I felt awful. It's already a sensitive issue for Nich and me that Brennan has no grandparents nearby. He doesn't have any relatives who buy him things "just because." He doesn't have anyone to spoil him or love on him that way. And we try not to let it bother us, but it does hurt sometimes. My neighbor just commented that there are family members and "friends" on her Facebook who haven't even acknowledged her two-month old baby's existence. I wanted to tell her that Brennan has a grandmother who has never even sent him a gift in his nearly eight months of life. It really sucks.

I know our friend didn't mean to be insensitive, but it really just felt like salt on a gaping wound.

I just want to crawl into a hole right now. But I have a wonderful husband who is cooking dinner so that I can have the luxury of sitting here to reflect and blog and a baby who needs me, so I'll press on. At least until after Brennan's bedtime. Then I might just crawl under the covers and not come out until tomorrow.

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