A few weeks back David and I took our young girls to an Alabama basketball game. (Spoiler: they lost. And my 7 year old cried buckets of tears that ran down the staircases, formed estuaries behind the bench, and then gathered together into a swimmable pond on center court. My husband has never been happier to see one of his girls so emotional.) But David and I took the bitties to a basketball game and (by no fault of my own except entirely mine) we pulled in late to Tuscaloosa. We zipped through the Chick-fil-A drive-through, threw chicken nuggets into the backseat with threats of eating at least three if you want to even think about having a treat during the game, and screeched into one of the “sorry for you” parking spots at the back of the now-full arena lot. Just as we prepared to make a bee-line for the on-campus bus route that we were 98% sure would take us to the arena, disaster struck.
The sky opened up.
It opened up in a way that would make my daughter’s post-game tears look like a fine misting. It unleashed in such a manner that would make obsolete my husband’s grief when Alabama would not make it past the second round of tournament play. It defied the odds in the way that the letters of Britney Spears rearranged spell Presbyterians.
It rained. Hard. And we didn’t have the gear.
Late, unsure exactly which way to head for the bus route, and even more unsure of exactly how many chicken nuggets had been consumed and not just “put here for later, mom,” we unpacked the children and the emergency umbrella (black and white polka dot because: CUTE), and began to Team Mackle ourselves into a plan. Ever the chivalrous one, David suggested the three ladies take the umbrella, and he would pull his sweatshirt over his head and hope for the best. I began to walk with the short people, trying to figure out how to get the umbrella to cover the three of us and also be able to maintain some semblance of an upright stance. We were one high wire shy of Ringling Bros. (Rest in Peace.) After approximately forty seconds of ridiculous, I handed over the umbrella to the tallest short one, and practically shouted instructions to her to “Try to keep your sister under, too!” What happened after is best described from behind.
Held by the tallest short one, the umbrella was now waist-high to both myself and my husband. Poking out from under the polka dots were the only visible signs of our children: owl-print pants, pink sparkle socks, and non-rain-appropriate footwear. None of which was making any real motion or movement anywhere. It was just standing there, in the pouring down rain.
David coaxed, I cajoled, but the polka dot umbrella turtle seemed thunderstruck at God dumping all the water in the whole world on us all at once.
There we stood, in the middle of the arena parking lot, moving only in the direction of the downward spiral of adults-beginning-to-lose-it, and I did the unthinkable: I laughed.
Right then and there, I just tossed my head back and laughed.
I laughed at the ridiculousness of it all. I laughed at how stinkin’ cute those little waist-high misfits looked poking out the bottom of a polka dot umbrella eight times their size. I laughed because we were completely out of control and there wasn’t a thing we could do about it.
And guess what happened? A smile spread slowly across my drenched husband’s face, and he began to laugh, too.
But here’s the part that’s going to have you thinking I made this up: It quit raining. It did. Right then and there, it quit. Full stop.
Subtle, God, super subtle. And exactly what I needed. Because in our family, there are two little hooligans on board Mackle Air, flight 2032. (ß That’s the year the last one graduates!) And while they trust the pilot (David) to make the big decisions and get them where they need to go, a lot of times they can only see the stewardess (me) in the cabin, and when there’s turbulence doesn’t everybody look to see how the stewardess responds? Do I really want to respond in my flesh and either A) flip out, B) have a sorry attitude, or, C) a combo of A and B which will only serve to ruin the moods of my entire family?
I want to choose D) the unexpected laugh that breathes lightness and rest into a rough patch.
Do I really trust the God who rules over all and chooses when and where to send the rain? And when I’m getting drizzled on or downright soaked, do I also trust Him then? Moms, the short people are turning to us to see how we’re responding, and sometimes the pilot is taking his cues off of us, too. I want to fully embrace the fact that I have a lot of power to help set the tone in my home. And by grace and through Christ, I want to choose to respond to challenging situations with a tone of humor and lightness and no-big-deal-ness, instead of making everything a huge big thing like my flesh wants to do. It is possible to toss our heads back and just have a laugh.
The littles are worth it, the pilot is worth it, and darn it if it isn’t more fun to laugh in the rain, anyway.
Editor’s Note: Holly’s new project, Same Here Sisterfriend: Mostly True Tales of Misadventure in Motherhood, is now available. Click here to learn more.
About the Author:
Holly Mackle writes and gardens in Birmingham, Alabama. She is wife to David and mama of two flower-sneaking bitties. She is the editor of engagingmotherhood.com, an author of the collaborative study for new moms, Engaging Motherhood: Heart Preparation for a Holy Calling (2016), and author of the family advent devotional, Little Hearts, Prepare Him Room (2016). Holly blogs life and tomatoes and diggingsuburbia and is the humorist for joegardener.com.