Monday, July 28, 2014

Building Cathedrals
















 






 And I did not get nearly enough pictures or talk to nearly enough people or eat nearly enough food or dance enough, but I think I cried enough.

It was a lovely weekend.  Everyone there had a story, a reason why they were there.  For some it was  treat they gave themselves, for others it was a huge sacrifice, for others it was an amazing gift from loving husbands, friends or families.  We all had stories - struggles of all kinds, families of all sizes, and stories of all shapes and sizes.  I think it was just what we all needed, whether it was a 48 hour break from the craziness or a lot of soul searching.

I wish more of us could have been there; Mary, Mandi, Maggie, Christina and so many others I wish we could have shared this together and I hope one day we can.

I think we all went home with Jen Fulwiller's words echoing in our heads.  We're not here to build these Cathedrals by ourselves.  God asks a lot of us, but he fills our Cathedrals with other workers.  We are not alone on this amazing journey.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In Which I Admit I Don't Like Everyone

Haley wrote a really good post yesterday, and like most good posts it got a lot of traffic on both sides.  I knew this post was coming and I knew that I already agreed with what she was getting at, and still do, but I find myself between a rock and a hard place.  I often will admit to not "liking" certain ages of children;  I love babies, I love the challenge of pre-teens (at least in my educational experience) and even teenagers, but between pre-school and middle-school, I just clam up.  I don't know what to do with them and generally they tend to tire me out quickly.  And that is, in a nut shell, why I'm not an elementary school teacher, why I don't run a daycare and was never a camp counselor or even much of a babysitter.

Part of this is semantics, I think most of us, when we say "I don't like kids or old people or ___ fill in the blank", are not saying I do not the like the person, but rather something about their needs or abilities makes us uncomfortable and therefore we do not enjoy being around them.  Here's the thing, it's okay to understand your own comfort levels and I don't think you need to like everyone.  And neither does Haley.  It's okay if we're uncomfortable or grossed out by an action done by blanket statement age group, that's part of our own neurosis.  It's also okay if we just generally don't enjoy the company of a kid down the street, a relative or a co-worker.  And it's okay not to be a "kid person".  In general, it's an incomplete way for us to describe discomfort, and most people when saying "I don't like babies" or similar are not calling into judgement the worth of an entire section of our population.  We're not called to like everyone and we're not expected to be comfortable around everyone, but we are called to charitable love.

The thing is, and Haley's post brought out this community in spades, there are those the relate their personal discomfort to a persons worth.  Not the people who admit to being uncomfortable around people of certain ages personal, but are compassionate about charitably allow children and families some leeway in public spaces.  Rather the people who are so offended by the mere existence of children or parents that it turns to hate.  To use derogatory terms about a person is not charitable; whether that person is a two year old or a grown man in a wheelchair.  To disrespect a person who cares for a child, the elderly, the disabled, etc. is not charitable.  To wish a person harm because they happen to be under the age of eighteen.  To presume that your space, your needs and your comfort always trump the rest of the world is not charitable.

There are many perfectly sound and licit reasons for opting out of parenthood, in fact I wish more people really challenged themselves before creating life; there are so many good reasons to realize that it's not your calling in life.  But our comfort and our personal calling does not determine another persons worth to the world or their rights, or lack there of, to experience the world and it is not right for us to ask that everything that makes us uncomfortable be stricken from our sight.

I'm not trying to defend poor parenting choices or lack of judgement and I'm not saying you can't annoyed when bad parenting gets in the way of your first night out in months.  These things happen in spades and I do believe we need to use common sense when determining if a restaurant is child-friendly, apologize when our children invade their space, bump into or touch a stranger, not let our children make scenes in public spaces and use good judgement to decide when it's time to go.  We, as parents, do have a responsibility to raise our children to consider others in their behaviors and this starts by not letting them get away with outrageous and generally bad behavior in public.  However, it is uncharitable to use one instance to damn an entire group of people, and yes I need to break it to the world : Children are people.  They might not have reason, they might not have fine motor control or complex language skills, but neither do a good percentage of our adult population.  An adult who fits those descriptions is still a person and so is a child.

It is not about how many children you have or the reasons you have none.  Being childfree does not automatically equate selfishness and having chlidren doesn't make you a selfless person over night.  However, in the end we are called to charity.  We are called to be selfless no matter what our individual lives lead us too, to understand that we can't always have things our way and that our time and resources are not meant to be our own.


*** Just incase this is not clear, I'm not offended or put-off by what Haley wrote.  Far from it, I fully support and agree with her.  Just want to voice how I approach the issue as somone who is admittedly "not a kid person".  Thanks all.  ****

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Faint Patina of Tarnish

Oh this week is getting me down friends.  Tight finances, big car repairs and a thousand little things just like to pile up at the same time.  I know I'm not the only one out there; too many of my friends are going through the same things down to the tight budgets and never ending car woes.  I'm not alone and I know better than to think my problems are the worst out there.

It's times like these that I imagine my own personal Screwtape or Crowley laughing with glee.  Crowley, a "demon" from the book "Good Omens " by Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman has a scene with fellow members of Hell in which they share the terrible things they've done that day.  The two demons who live outside the world relish in tempting a priest and a politician, claiming they'll "have him" in 10 years or 5 years while Crowley, who's realized that people will do quite enough on their own with his extra work, tied up a telephone line for forty-five minutes and let the people do the work.

"What could he tell them? That twenty thousand people got bloody furious? That you could hear the arteries clanging shut all across the city? And that then they went back and took it out on other people? In all kinds of vindictive little ways which, and here was the good bit, they thought up themselves. For the rest of the day. The pass-along effects were incalculable. Thousands and thousands of souls all got a faint patina of tarnish, and you hardly had to lift a finger." - Good Omens

I think of this part of the book whenever things start to get heavy.  How easy would it be to let this one moment of misfortune rule and take it out on my husband, my son or the random person at the store or on the road?  How many souls would get a "faint patina of tarnish" if I let these things control me like that.

After reading "Good Omens" and "The Screwtape Letters" I often wonder about these things.  If something hasn't decided to take the Crowley route and just cause that faint crack in the pipe or that tiny miscalculation in the account and then just sits back and watch as we do the destruction for them.

So I'm stressed and worried.  Truth be told, I've already flipped out more than once because everything that's happened in the last couple weeks; it really hasn't been pretty.  I feel beat down and held down; frustrated that it feels like we're never getting ahead and that life is going to be a series of just staying afloat.   I don't handle that well, it's called chronic anxiety and it's not something I can just ignore or get over.

I'm trying to trust that everything will be okay, it's hard.  I know that I'm letting things reap their own horrible benefits from my stress and worry and I know that after nights like last night I have that "faint patina of tarnish" and somewhere something is happy for it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Making Do and Making the Best

So much has been on my mind lately.  One of those little times of life that really makes you think about who you are and what you're striving for.  It's not bad, but it can be rough to work through.

I've never been a very confident person.  I've made many choices in life based on what those around me are doing, or at least what I think they're doing.  I remember has a pre-teen asking neighbors and cousins how to be "cool", convinced there was some magic way to fix all my little social foibles and general awkwardness.  It was quite the paradox because I so often proclaimed that I didn't care what "they" thought of me.  I didn't want to be like "them", yet I really struggled to have confidence and find out who I was regardless of what everyone else was doing.

I wish I could say I grew out of this, but I think in the end I grew around it.  I still look at other peoples lives with longing for their families, their clothes, their attitudes.  I still find myself falling into the trap of look at this counter-cultural thing everyone is doing, surely I must do that too!  And then I find I can't.  I don't have the natural eye for style, I don't have the business sense, I don't the have the calm or the trust and there's that drop in your stomach.  It tells you that you've failed and what a disastrous feeling that is.

Except, I haven't actually failed because I haven't been living my life.  I've been trying to live someone else's life, so what I've failed at is being someone else.

I'm working on this right now, but it's hard.  There are so many things I can list that my life doesn't allow me to do and won't allow me to do for a long time.  Things other people get to do and ways they get to live.  When I start thinking about all these things I get attacked; thoughts of doubt about the self-donative and sacrificial nature of life and parenthood pour in.  Wouldn't it be easier to work just for more money to do those thing?  Wouldn't it be easier to have fewer children so I don't have make those sacrifices for longer?

I know when I start asking myself "Wouldn't it be easier" that it's not me who is asking those questions.  I've let a little doubt open a door.

I need to start refocusing on what I have and like the tag line says, making the best of what I've been given.  I know it's all temporary, and I know how quickly a few years pass and change, but it looks so daunting.  We're looking at a few big changes within the next year; ones that mean I still need to keep working, but money will be just as tight as it was a few years ago if not more so.  It's scary and daunting, and a big part of me wants to take it all back or have a tantrum about all the nice things I can't have.

I know that despite whatever magazine, tv show and celebrity wants me to believe, this world is not for my comfort and in the end it's not about the things I have or the places I'll go.

I know everyone goes through tight times and makes big sacrifices for the important things.  I know that eventually those times end and you have a little more or life starts to look a little more like you wish it could.  It's just hard to see sometimes.


I need to realize that I am meant for something great, even if it's not the same as someone else.  If I'm meant to be a working mother I need to be the best working mother I can be, not a sad sap mourning over my situation.  If I'm only meant to be the mother of one or two children I need to love what I've been given and not spend these precious years wishing for someone elses family.  If I'm meant to send my children off to school, we'll make it the best experience we can.  If I'm not meant to travel to far off places, I need to find the beauty in the world around me.  If I'm not meant to be someone else, I need to make the best of me.