To say that I cannot do Algebra is somewhat of an understatement. My high school Algebra teacher, Mr. Womack, used to throw chalk and erasers at me and yell, “Sweet Georgia Brown! I gotta retire!” When I applied to graduate school at Hardin-Simmons the Dean at Abilene Christian sent a letter on my behalf that said something like:
This young woman is capable of many things. Algebra isn’t one of them. As a Christian-affiliated university, we cannot in good consciousness take any more of her money for remedial math courses. We have determined she has a cognitive inability to solve for X. However, we believe she will make an excellent graduate student at your school… PLEASE take her.
Solving for X has many negative associations for me. In the history of my dad’s life the only time he ever got physically violent he was helping me with my Algebra homework. Well, there was one other time that involved my little brother and a block of cheese, but that’s not my story to tell. Justin and I nearly broke off our engagement when he tried to help me in college with an assignment. I home schooled my older children, and they knew that solving for X was the thing that we didn’t speak of if we wanted happiness and joy in our home. Justin would help them with that type of thing while mommy was nursing Cosmos at the bar. As recently as last month, our three-year-old Sam was getting in the van with 4 matchbox cars. I said, “Sam, you may only take one car.” And Sam said, “But mommy, it a 4, 6, 14, and then the X, 9, 11.” And I let him take all four cars because he used letters and numbers in a sentence and I was unable to effectively argue those terms.
I can’t do it. And it doesn’t really make me sad or stressed anymore. I have moved on. And in the scope of things I know this isn’t something that determines my worth or impedes me in other ways. I use the program Grammarly for my writing and and every week it sends me a report of how my week looked. This week my report said that I typed 85,986 words and was 99% more active than the average user. It said some other stuff too, but it was a lot of numbers and then their was a pie chart and I blacked-out. And that is okay too. I don’t need a numerical measurement of my Grammatical abilities because that takes away, subtracts if you dare, from what I love to do with something that I truly despise. And although, in our society Algebra is a means to an end for some, there are others who love the challenge.
I have a friend that is a math teacher and she said it is like doing puzzles all day long. She cannot think of anything more fun. We traveled somewhere together once and she constantly played Sudoku, which is like a cross-number puzzle. She tried to explain it to me and I peed my pants and forgot my name for half an hour, but she enjoys it, so who am I to question? She finds blogging obnoxious. After reading one of my blogs, she said, “I have no response to that. You need counseling.”
I cannot sleep tonight. My brain will not shut off. In the throws of parenting adolescent humans, there are probably more sleepless nights than there are in parenting littles. But I am encouraged to write this. Whole humans are not wholly perfect. No one creation is perfect in every aspect of living. There are math wizards and there are poets. Engineers and culinary masterminds. Artists and scientists. And sometimes there are combinations of great minds and abilities. Our society has many rules for measuring worth, success, and smarts. As parents, we cannot help but want it all for our children. In this season, for me, I am seeing the blessing of trimming down on what I measure as success. As an a biological parent of four, I know that my children may have math deficiencies, creative abilities, and Justin’s mechanical intricacies. As an adoptive parent, I won’t know where my children’s wonderful inborn talents might stem from or where their deficiencies derived, but God does and He can equip us to foster greatness where it needs harvested. And this gives me peace.
Tonight the sleepless, restful, worrisome part of this season isn’t the academic struggles it’s the struggles of raising sinners. Imperfect humans in need of a Savior. This is hard. Time outs don’t work the way they used to. Mistakes have greater consequences. Those consequences cost more, and for longer. And as much as we have tried to instill Jesus in our children, He will have to become their own at some point. Relinquishing this is scary.
I always have heard parents say you never cross the finish line on worry, the worries just change. I am sure my parents still worry for my siblings and me, although I doubt they wake shaken to their core at my inability to do Algebra. I know they worry for our marriages, our children, finances, or that we may move back in with them. With the broad range of ages of my children I find myself worrying about a wide spectrum of issues. I worry Charlie will take his poopy diaper off again (gag) and in the next instance I worry Maggie might actually get that internship in LasVegas.
And as I am rendered sleepless again I realize, the worries are different, but the solution is the same.
X represents worry. Prayer solves for X. I can relinquish the worry back over and the solution is constant. God is sovereign. He will fill in the gaps of all my shortcomings as a mom. He will right wrongs and mend fences. It may not look the way I think it should, and it may not always be easy, but His parenting is exponentially better than mine. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is a mathematician, artist, scientist, and engineer. And He loves better than I.
Solving for the unknown is His alone.
Rest well Mr. Womack, Georgia Brown finally solved for X.
“Tune your ears to the world of wisdom, set your heart on a life of understanding.” Proverbs 2:2
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained. Love, Jami