Suppertime stress is a time for me at the end of the day, when life gets a little crazy. Before we became a stepfamily, I was considered a reasonably good cook by my children, but these new children, they do not like much of what I cook at all. Everything I serve them is discussed and suggestions made about how it could be better. Hearing this once or twice is okay, but every time we sit-down to eat supper? Give me a break!
After supper Doc helps me clear away the dishes and takes the opportunity to ask me how I’m doing.
“ Are you angry?…Because you look angry.”
I lean over and look into the mirror on the buffet and there it is, the dreaded Mommy Dent. A wad of skin that concaves and convexes right between my eyes, and it gives the appearance of a crazy angry woman. It comes from having children who are older than three; and, increases in prominence with each child living in your home that is over the age of twelve.
“I’m not angry, even though I look like I am, I’m just stressed” I replied (okay, maybe with a little anger.)
I decide right then and there I am going to break my rule and fix this Mommy Dent. The next morning I called my friend, the dermatologist, and he was kind enough to work me into his busy schedule that day.
“What’s going on?” His cheerful voice enters the room before he does.
I lean my forehead in his direction, look up at him and give him the strongest frown I have so that he can clearly see the problem.
“I have developed a Mommy Dent in the middle of my face. Please Botox me happy.”
Laughing he sends in his nurse and within a few minutes I have paralyzed my frown into happy.
A few days later when the children are back at our house we are dealing with the supper stress again, but I am confident that I am not looking angry, because I have a little secret that appears to be an attitude adjustment.
After supper Doc comes up to me and asks, “Are you okay? You look angry.”
“What? No! I don’t look angry, I just had…a…ummmm…attitude adjustment. I know I don’t look angry. Why do you think I look angry?”
“Well,” he begins with great caution – he is a smart man. “You have your lips pressed so tightly together into a thin line that I thought you might be angry about something.”
He and I wash the rest of the dishes in silence. But the whole time I am thinking that I cannot keep Botox-ing myself happy.
So the next morning I had a great plan. I will put clothespins on my upper lip and get it good and swollen so when I’m stressed my lips won’t go into a flat line and then my stress won’t show! I felt so brilliant!
I put one clothespin on my lip for about 5 seconds and had to take it off. That thing hurt more than a Botox injection!
How can I be happy, appear happy, even fake happy when the whole time I’m thinking, “sit down, shut-up, eat it and like it – whether you like it or not!” I think I have mentioned once before in this series that I had to grow up a lot to be a mother of a stepfamily.
The word “happy” comes from “happen” and is an emotional response to good or lucky things happening to a person.
What is happening to me is not giving me an emotional response of happiness, I can tell you that!
So what do I need to do, and how can I change, since I cannot change my “happenings”?
Sometimes we confuse Joy for happiness, because it is all joy, if we know how to look at it.
Joy believes that there is a plan; it is the belief that sadness does not go without purpose.
“A man (woman in this case) has joy in an answer of the mouth, and how delightful is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23 NASB)
Here is what I have learned:
The way I view things can make or break a situation, if not in others, definitely in me. I must take charge of my thought process and take captive the imaginations and assumptions that can take me down a path that is dark and slippery. A path that can believe everyone is thinking negative thoughts about me, so then I must think negative thoughts about them. This is where the enemy comes in and puts us into bondage.
But when the wellspring of our hearts believe the best and look for the best in the comments of others then we can speak words of life into the lives of our families.
“A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken” (Proverbs 15:13 NASB)
When we are wounded by comments we need to step back and ask was it intentional? If yes, then we forgive.
If no, then we forgive, because of our perceived wounding.
To be able to smile, to be joyful and to be happy no matter what is happening, takes making a decision that we are going to believe that God is good, and that He would not allow us to go through any of this without purpose.
For me, I have decided to take cooking lessons and why not? It never hurts to learn something new and in doing so the family has found some new favorites in food.
I have also learned to smile, to take my thoughts and my paranoid insecurities captive and just smile.
How have you learned to smile in stressful situations? Send me your “smile” stories so that we can all smile with you!
Latest posts by Diane W. Bailey (see all)
- What God Can Do with A Shattered Heart - September 5, 2022
- When It Is Time to Bring Your Ship Ashore - January 2, 2018
- Art Of Hospitality – How to Love Others As Ourselves - November 27, 2017
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Thank you for this post and your transparency in dealing with your family situation. One of our sons recently left his family so his wife and children are living with us. My husband and I, nearing 60, have found ourselves “doing family” again. Some days it is not easy. In addition our grandson (7) broke his leg so we have become caregivers to one in a wheelchair, walker and in pain. The up-side is it has taken our attention off the matter between us and our son, and our son and his family. He is military and came back from AFG an angry man and someone we do not even recognize. Though ours is not a “step-family” matter, it has some of the same ear-markings. Your post has given me pause to consider how I can set aside feelings to deal with the more important heart issues. With Jesus at my side constantly I know I can do just that. Blessings to you!
I know that must be difficult, Ava. I can only imagine how your life has changed. Your daughter-in-law must be so very thankful to have you and your husband in her life!
Hey Di, you made me smile with this line: I cannot keep Botox-ing myself happy.
As for smiling under stress, I consider it a success if I can keep my tone of voice under control. 🙂