Sunday, December 29, 2013


How could I refuse?  The father of the kid who was hosting my girls for a play date offered to make me a fresh cappuccino on his shiny, new machine that appeared to do hundreds of beautiful things with coffee. They were all hanging out in their driveway with another family who was visiting them when I drove up to pick up my girls.  The father introduced me to his friends as "the mom of the family that we were just telling you about, some of our favorite people!" Dinner was already in the crock pot at home.  We had only one errand left and plenty of time to do it.

"Sure!  I'd love it!  Thank you."  I accepted his offer with gusto and gratefulness.

I looked back at my van at the bottom of their driveway.  I could see from the window that Josh was happily listening to music on headphones.  I left the side door open just in case he needed something or got unhappy.  My girls were elated to have a few more minutes to play with their friend.  The visiting family had just moved to my home town in Oregon so we had a lively conversation about favorite restaurants and pubs in the Portland metropolitan area.  It also turned out that this couple had gone to the college with my husband.  A few minutes turned into forty five with the assistance of a second coffee drink, the sharing of humorous anecdotes and happily occupied children.

Finally, I got my girls and my well-caffeinated, socially satiated self back into my van and headed to the library.  As I unloaded my three children, I realized that the contents of my purse were scattered all over the floor of the back half of my van.  As I picked everything up, I saw that one of my lipsticks had been opened and the contents almost completely missing.  Someone had eaten it like it was a soft, shimmery piece of candy.

I looked at my eldest child and saw that he had Estee Lauder #61 Pink Parfait all over his face and hands.

"Josh!  Did you eat my lipstick?"  I demanded, beginning to panic.

"Yes."  Josh responded, without shame or affect.

"Joshua.  We do not eat lipstick!  Mommy says, 'No eating lipstick!'  What is wrong with you?"  I began to rant at my child who had very little capacity to receive my lecture.

Josh must have been searching for gum or candy in my purse while he was waiting for us to finish our little bonus time in the driveway.  My lipstick was almost new so it looked like he had ingested quite a bit of it.  I had the faint memory of hearing something on the radio recently about how make up was actually toxic.  I was so frustrated with the thought that Josh's habit of eating non-food items was back.

And then I blurted words that should not come into a Mom's head much less out of her mouth.  "God, Joshua!  Why are you so weird?!"

The girls immediately jumped to Josh's defense.

"Well, you might look like you are eating it when you are putting it on, Mommy." said one of them.

"Mommy, that is not a very nice thing to say." said the other, perfectly embodying a corrective tone which I am sure that she picked up from me.  "We don't say things like that."

They were completely right but I wasn't ready to repent.  I was feeling too scared that Josh was going to die and too guilty that I had left him in the car for so long while I had indulged in spontaneous coffee and adult conversation.

I sent the girls ahead to go look for books in the library while I called poison control.  Of course, once I got through to poison control, they put me on hold for about a century.  I put on my headset, wiped off my son's face and scooted him into the library while I waited to talk to a real live person on the phone.  The girls had almost finished checking out a huge pile of books and DVDs each when the person came on the phone.  I explained our situation and asked him what I should expect.  The man told me that, although he doesn't recommend eating an entire lipstick in one sitting, Josh was not likely to have immediate dire consequences.

"The worst thing that you can probably expect is some diarrhea."

Just as the man from poison control was saying this, I looked over and saw that Josh had his hands on either side of a desk.  His back was bent forward ever so slightly and he appeared to be bearing down and pushing.

"Oh my God.  Girls!  Time to go!  Come on, Come on!  Josh, do you need to go to the bathroom?  Are you pooping?"

"No." He said, simply, with no understanding of why I was such a basket case.  He then calmly walked out and found his way to the car, sat down, and buckled himself in.

"Want music."  He said, as if to change the subject.

When the girls had landed in their seats, I took a deep breath and apologized to them about my inappropriate outburst and asked if we could just take a moment before we moved on.  They were already buried in their fresh books.  Josh was calm and happy with the radio on.

I held my head in my hands and poured out my fears, frustrations and guilt to God.  I desperately needed to come down off of the happenings of the past hour.  I asked if He would speak to me and give me some perspective on the situation.

Do you know what I felt like God said?

"Look at your purse."


 I looked at my hot mess of a purse and this is what I saw:

-lots of Kleenex and napkins both old and new
-6 pens
-4 small toys
-many loose, crumbling M & Ms
-my wallet, bursting with random papers and receipts
-more random papers and receipts loosely floating around
-several small pieces of children's art work
-several plastic items of no discernible identity or origin
-12 lipsticks

Yes, I counted twelve lipsticks or lip glosses in my purse.  And I'm not even a person who wears much lipstick!  Why do I have so much lipstick and, for that matter, all the rest of the stuff?  Because I'm just someone who has an absolute inability to clean out my purse.  It's one of those random, weird things about me.  Try as I might to have an ordered life, you can pretty much be sure that my purse and my desk are going to be utterly chaotic at all times.

Driving home, I realized that the interpretation to the parable of my purse is that we are all weird in unique ways, big and small.  We all have parts of us, our personalities, our choices, things that we do which are inexplicable, idiosyncratic, useless and even counterproductive.  Oftentimes, we are blind to our own oddness.  But part of the meaning of family and friendship is that we love and accept one another despite our unique weirdness.

Why is my son so weird?  Today, that is not the right question.  The right question is "Am I going to love and accept him for who he is, weird behavior and all?"  What helps me to answer that question is another question.  "Do I realize that I am fully loved and accepted for who I am in all of my own weirdness?"

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