Thursday, September 16, 2010

Yes, I can

Right now we are studying paradoxes in class. This fits well. I am finding myself living in the truth of one half of several paradoxes. It is not that I do not assent to the value of the other half. It is simply that right now I look around me and feel a void in the half I am sitting in. I have been in the mother club for almost 4 years. Go me. My children are healthy, reasonably well behaved and we are a functioning family. One thing I have noticed lately is the constant self-seeking behavior of moms. Now, we all know that any revelation about society starts because of self-revelation. So I'll couch it in these terms. I noticed that I was participating in self-seeking behavior and conversation.

For example, I am out with no kids or grabbing coffee or something by myself. This is rare, but does happen. Then someone finds out I have two kids under 4. This alone is not egregious but the only social acceptable comment is, "Whew, you must be busy!" Mostly I follow society's claims and smile or otherwise agree. Inside I want to say, "some days I am but I've got a good grip on it."

Or this conversation, "You have a boy and girl. How many do you think you want?" My response, "we want to have one more biological child and then adopt. I am really praying about adopting a sibling set." In case you are math deficient, like I am, this adds up to 5 kids. I know I checked my math with hubby. Usually the person is too stunned to say much and the conversation ends quickly.

Now I have been on the other side of this. But sometimes I think even my contribution, judgmental and false as it is, is fed by social mores. I look at the frazzled complaining of a mom with 2-4 little ones and am like, "Yeah they are crazy busy and why would they want more. I would not want their life!" Judgmental I know. I admitted that at the start if you don't remember.

Mostly I want to be like a friend of mine who has one biological child, fosters two others, and will if possible adopt those two and their brother. Here comes the math again: this would give her 4 children 4 and under. Will she have rough days? Yes. Can she do it? I am quite confident. She gets the, "Whew, you must be busy" comment a lot. I wonder what her gut answer would be if she chose to speak the truth bluntly.

Here is my blunt truth: I am a well kept (look at my waistline) happy woman. I have bad days. I have days I wish the word "why?" was never invented. I accidentally agreed to ice cream and a movie at bed time because I was mindlessly "yes-ing" with my oldest's chatter. Mostly though, I can do this. In fact, most days, doing school and the kids and even (gasp) cooking from scratch are not hard to accomplish. I mean, consider today. I got up, fed breakfast to all hungry mouths. Enjoyed a morning walk and fresh air. Came home and put in a movie for the kids. Read a novel for a bit. Packed up a bag for an outing. Took the kids to a park. Visited with women from church. Came home and put kids to bed. Did school, ate lunch, and now I am with you. What part of that day should I feel bad about?

Every time we agree to being so busy, or how hard it is being a mom of little ones we (now remember this is ONE half of a paradox) disempower ourselves. We throw up our hands and say, "Yes, mothering is so hard I do not know how I will succeed." We would be better mothers, and more fit Christian examples if we told ourselves, "Yes, mothering is hard. But I can do it. I can do it because God has placed it in front of me and there is nothing too hard for God."

End of soapbox

P.S. I am sure, after a string of bad days I will live in the other half of the paradox and talk about how we have to mother out of our weakness, so stay tuned.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Reflections on the seven year itch


With divorce rates soaring in America, each and every wedding anniversary truly is a celebration. Today we are celebrating our seventh wedding anniversary. I have learned what it is to be married to your best friend. So many people, on their wedding day, say they are marrying their best friend. It always confused me. I felt like I was marrying the love of my life. I was confident in my decision to marry him. (truthfully overconfident would be a better statement. I thought I was so mature and ready for marriage. I thought that I would sail through it and if anyone had difficulties it would be him. Oh the pride! I had a lot to learn). However, I had friends. Really good friends and while he was a wonderful friend, he was my love. In my mind the two were distinctly different. Finally though I understand.

We have moved (and moved and moved and moved and moved and moved) and each move has drawn me closer to my husband. When you change locations you are able to sever any bad habits and build new ones. We always would talk about what we liked and didn't like about our lives at the last place, and then we would strive to make the new place better. When you move, you only know one other adult and that is your spouse! This is excellent cement for a relationship. One of the things that you lose when you move is people who know your history. This dawned on me when a lady mentioned that she was surprised that I had a Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt on. To her it did not match my personality. To me it is an adequate reflection of the "don't mess with me" country girl attitude of my high school and early college years. It is an integrated part of my personality (this is true of my Harley shirts and blaring country music too). Because that person had only known me for 6 months of my later 20's, to her it was an anomaly. Elliott knows my background and my t-shirts make sense to him. Every move, every year, layers on new experiences, new parts of the journey and the history gets lost. We plunge right into relationships. Other people ask about the last three years (when we started the parent journey) or maybe about how we met, but never do they go past that. Not that I am asking for pity because rarely do we ask those deep background questions of others. Having someone around that knows these things is like wearing my favorite t-shirt (I know some of you have seen it and I am not supposed to wear it in public any more). It brings a sense of comfort and well-being.

Parenting. That'll make you or break you. For us it has highlighted the love we have for each other. We look at our kids while they are playing, or throwing fits, and they are just adorable to us, and then we look at each other and our hearts sigh with contentment. Sappy, yes, but oh so true. You know you are loved when you poke your spouse and say, "Your turn, to get him I already offered him what I have (milk)" and your husband rolls out of bed and into the nursery letting you sleep. I know that he loves me because when I call him and say, "If you are not okay with eggs tonight (or grilled cheese sandwiches) you need to pick something up because that's all I have time to make tonight" and he responds with remarks about how great it is that I'll fix him eggs when I am having such a day. Yes, ladies, you can drool because he's that wonderful. It takes two adults to raise these little beings. We definitely have bonded together, they have not driven us apart as so often happens in our society.

And truly that's that. We have moved, and we have become parents. As small a list as that is, it sums up our lives pretty well over the last seven years. Of course there have been fights, (wow, did I just type that?!? I mean nobody actually admits to being less then perfect) celebrations, tough times, and good times. We have learned to be better communicators (we fight very quietly, discreetly, and rarely), better listeners, better people. God is as present in our lives as ever. I can thank God that the only thing I'm itching for is many, many more years with my dearest love, and best friend.