Friday, March 18, 2011
All the parents reading this title know exactly what a meltdown is...it's the moment at which your child's resources, reserves, and rational responses evaporate. Usually a meltdown comes when they are beyond tired, in a growth spirt, & haven't eaten. The trigger for the meltdown is totally unrelated to it's cause and is usually so ridiculous that the parent can't see it coming. One minute everything is fine and then you put lunch on the blue plate instead of the green plate and it's as if lightening has struck. There is no real solution to the meltdown. It requires time, rest, food, love, and patience. Once it passes, it's over; over that is, until the next time.
Interestingly, meltdowns are not exclusive to children. They are universally human.
They happen when our margin is gone. Think of margin like the margin on a sheet of paper. It's there for a reason. It gives the visual boundaries necessary to write and read a page properly. It's a place for a teacher or editor to put notes or corrections. It's a place to put extra or forgotten information.
In everyday life, margin is our reserve - the place where we absorb unexpected or overloading circumstances to our time, emotions, & finances. The margin is a temporary extension of our abilities. We are designed to live inside the boundaries of the margins; we can only sustain expenditures of time, efforts, or finances to a certain amount and then to need rest and restoration.
When we find ourselves instead living IN the margins on a consistent basis, we are on dangerous ground. We are going to be prone to meltdowns and unfortunately, the meltdown isn't the worst of it-- it can get much worse. It can lead to financial ruin, unbearable stress, decreased effectiveness, health problems, damaged relationships, and much more. The meltdown is your warning. It's a red flag that says, "Get back inside the margins before you break or break someone else."
Last week, I had a meltdown. I don't even know what the trigger was- I can't remember. But I know that I was reduced to a child-like meltdown. Tears and all. I had spent the week living IN the margins.
In no particular order these were the circumstances:
1. sick kid
2. no quality sleep x3 days
3. major project due for a kid
4. kid with classes 2 nights that week
5. orchestra concert
6. week 2 of my diet
7. race training (running)
8. spouse out of town for 10 days
9. unexpected (bad) interim school report for a kid
10. 2 projects due for my non-profit volunteer work
11. First week of swim lessons
12. Sore throat and allergies for me
and who knows what else.....
Thankfully, it was late in the evening. I put the kids in bed and just fell to my knees (literally) to pray. I love our big family and I support my hubby's travel schedule, but sometimes in managing it all, I forget that I don't have to carry it all too. God wants to carry it with me and for me.
Over and Over again, I see how Psalms 40:1-3 rings true in my life:
"I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord."
I am glad this meltdown was short and now I have a re-centered perspective for both my kids' meltdowns and an a reminder to stay out of the margin.