Scum of the Scum

I waved to my wailing baby, winked at daddy and dashed into an overcrowded Starbucks to grab a quick cup of Joe to get me through the afternoon.  The line was snaked around the corner and I tapped my foot anxiously as precious minutes slipped by. I glanced outside at the car which was now shaking with toddler angst and daddy’s frustration.

I should have walked out of the store then and there and been the kind and loving wife I long to be, but my head was throbbing from caffeine withdrawal and I justified that a happy mommy is much better than a cranky mommy and “gosh, gee, golly” I was really doing my family a favor. 

Besides, my teeth were already starting to hurt and once the teeth hurt a migraine must be lurking around the corner.

Finally it was my turn and I stepped up to the counter, ordered a triple Americano, gave them my name, paid and waited in the mosh-pit of caffeine addicted souls such as myself. After a few minutes, I saw what looked like my triple Americano in the hand of the barista.

Strangely enough the barista paused, looked a little baffled and then stared at the cup far too long.  I started to walk toward the pickup counter, now curious, when he called out the name on the cup, “Scum, your Americano is ready, Oh Scum, please pick up your drink.”

The noisy, jubilant over-caffeinated crowd quieted down to a whisper. I heard the plop-plop of the percolator and the swishing steamer heating cappuccino froth and the individual thump-thump of my own heart.

Here was my make it or break it moment. Do I walk out to the car empty-handed, wasting not only my family’s time and patience but my money as well, or do I suck it up and take the walk of shame to the counter and admit that I’m the scum?

When I think of “scum” images of lewd women brawling on trashy TV shows pop into my head; I see Casey Anthony at her trial and Sandra Bullock’s sad face after Jessie James humiliated her. Entitled, selfish, and crummy people leaving the world worse for the wear are scummy to me.

But if I’m honest, I have scummy moments too. Like now for instance-feeding my helpless husband to toddler mayhem to soothe my coffee addiction and stubbornly justifying this behavior as acceptable.

I’m often selfish, full of pride, slightly rebellious, sometimes defiant, and generally envious of expensive purses. I’ve hurt people and should be the last one to be throwing stones at anyone.  Without God, I am at best-the mutinous gelatinous scum on the scum of scum.

So, after a long painful pause, I made up my mind and decided to take the walk of shame. I strutted up to the counter and choked out, “Uhhh, yeah, hi!  So, I’m the Scum, thank you very much.”

And Starbucks erupted into laughter and even few claps.

Because, the truth is we all have scum in our hearts, it’s just tougher for some of us to own it.

“First Baby” and other labels

My First Baby is officially, as of May 23rd, a double-digit midget (translation-Faith turned ten-years old). Now that might be confusing to some because it makes absolutely no sense if you know the birth order of my kids. 

Faith Whitney is my second child (out of three) and now carries the middle child banner after almost a decade of being the baby.  After that long, you would think the middle child traits would be nominally apparent, but jealousy is such a strong emotion and even the most secure kid gets rattled when their role is replaced.  

I’ve noticed Faith fights to claim her place, postures for attention and vacillates between big girl and lisping baby talk–all symptoms of a classic middle child.  It’s tough being the sandwich kid in between the studly athletic older brother and a ridiculously cute toddling baby sister.  I think of Jan Brady and her silly wigs, just trying to fit in and find her place.

So, as chief mother and encourager of my little tribe, I have decided to break with tradition and give her a new nick-name, First Baby.  For many years Faith was indeed my baby, and instead of taking on the bitter and sassy middle child identity, I have decided to give her a new title, allowing her the distinction of feeling treasured instead of lost among the birth order.

Now, while this might sound coddling to some, I do confess a certain degree of parental guilt when it comes to juggling three kids.  My position recognizes the recurring nagging feeling of mommy guilt because I haven’t been able to give my middle child the attention she craves now that there are three.  The truth is I am outnumbered and Faith has genuinely lost some time and attention from the mommy bucket. 

But, even though my hands are full, as all moms know, my heart has an endless amount of love for my little girl.  So one of the things I decided I could do was to give her a special name.  And when I hold her in bed at night as we cuddle and say prayers, I sense my effort is appreciated.

Clearly she is still the middle sister.  Faith’s role has not changed, but her title has been tweaked a bit to boost her security as my beloved child.  It’s a beautiful picture of what God does with us.  The world calls us certain labels and He in turn tells us we are chosen, redeemed, and cherished.  The circumstances in our lives don’t change, but the image imprinted on our heart, (if we choose to believe what God says is true about us) begins to define us more than the other titles. We operate differently because we are secure.

A recent story in the news caught my eye about a family who has refused to announce the sex of their child.  The baby named Storm will be allowed to pick its own gender.  On a million levels this disturbs me but mostly because we are created in the image of God, male and female he created them. 

Little Storm will grow up without labels, without a gender even.  His family, in an extreme effort to avoid the world’s identification and labels, has created even more insecurity for the child.  In my opinion, this seems like another misguided attempt to play God and redefine the created order into some PC perversion of an alternative reality. 

I understand the desire though.  It’s the same reason I go out of my way to make up silly nick-names because I love my kids.  It’s the yearning to experience the paradise we were created for. Something deep within our spirits strives to recreate that which was lost. Of course not being God, we distort in our effort to recreate beauty or in this case a world without labels.

Strangely enough, I imagine in about a year or two, the last thing Faith will want me to call her is a baby.  And Storm in a few years will probably figure out his or her sex, despite his parent’s shroud of secrecy.  Hopefully, both will find their true identity in Christ alone and ultimately that will be enough.

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