We were headed out for a few days, just the girls and I. For MANY reasons and turns of events, I was beginning to wonder if we were truly supposed to be moving toward our destination. Everything seemed to be working against us successfully making it there. The "icing on the cake of bad karma" manifested itself in a spilled sugary smoothie in the front seat of the car.
I like a clean car and the mounting frustration I felt was NOT oozing away as I watched the bright yellow mango concoction seep between the front passenger seat and drip to the floor below. I asked Maddie to stand to the side of the car, safe in the parking lot and out of my way as I furiously took to cleaning the seat with the last few baby wipes in our travel container. The brief thought of having to make yet another stop for more wipes crossed my mind amidst my growing frustration and Harper's increasingly loud screams.
My irritation was evidently felt by Maddie who had quietly edged closer to the car door in order to watch the cleaning unfold. I stepped back with handfuls of smoothie and stepped right on her toes. For the third time, I firmly walked her back to the spot I'd originally asked her to stay in. She was quiet. Getting back to cleaning, I noticed a look of consternation pass Maddie's face and realized that she was receiving the brunt of my frustration. Although not willingly directed at her, I HAD asked her to get the smoothie out of the front seat so we could throw it away (because to top this all off, the mango smoothie was fiercely disgusting) so in the end, she was the one who had spilled it. I was frustrated and she, understandably, interpreted the frustration as being directed toward her.
Once the situation was resolved- sticky smoothie cleaned up, Harper finally calm- I gently pulled Maddie toward me and apologized for being frustrated. I explained that I wasn't frustrated at her, that it wasn't her fault. Looking for someone or something to blame (because that's what we tend to do, right?), I quickly assured her it was my fault for asking her to get the smoothie-- indeed it was a tough task for a 5-year old.
She laughed a bit. "Mom," she said tentatively, "you know... it doesn't have to be anyone's fault. It just happened." Now we were both smiling, then laughing.
"Girl, you are so right!" I said. "It's not our fault... it's the nasty smoothie's fault!"
Maddie laughed, to appease me. She then replied with her "old soul wisdom" that I love so much about her, "Mom, let's not call it nasty. Those people worked really hard to make it, even though it doesn't taste good to us."
At this point, tears were at the edge of my eyes as I hugged her, told her I loved her and thanked her for teaching me a super important lesson.
Sometimes things just happen. It's not about figuring out "whose fault it was," seeking out justification. It's about how we connect with others in the sticky moments of life and who we become as a result.
In the end, isn't that what it's ALL about... really?