Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Shame on Me.


Mom voices in my head at every move. I hear the constant murmur of advice laced with warning. Moms should...moms shouldn’t...shame on you, Mom. Blogs and books and self-help—newspaper articles and magazine columns and radio talk show hosts.

 Those voices were loud when my kids were babies. I trembled in my tired, baby-weighted body when I realized I did the opposite of the latest advice. I struggled against my instinct to snuggle my crying one and let them “cry it out”...that only lasted with the first...and it didn’t even last—45 mins of crying and I couldn’t handle it. I raced upstairs at 2 a.m., snatched him from the crib he had gnawed on as he screamed, and implemented midnight co-sleeping for the rest of my motherhood of babies. I can easily admit that now—but four kids later, I will also admit the sharp guilt that stabbed me at every turn away from the latest and greatest mom shoulda’s. (BTW, my kids grew up and sleep in their own beds—mamas, it doesn’t last forever).

Last night, I made a mama call. And, I wasn’t ashamed one bit....um, well... Shame does seem to lessen when you are over 40 and master selective-hearing/reading/advice-seeking. So, hubs was out of town and Mama and oldest had to divvy up driving kids everywhere. I opted to let my 2nd grader skip her activity to help us all out.

Even though I was relieved to find a solution to our crazy, I confess—some mom perfection niggled at my tired brain—Don’t let the team down! The coaches are spending their night for your kid! You need to teach responsibility and commitment! Ok, that was more than a niggle.

Moms, did the activity priority make its way to the top because of all the experts out there? What kinda guilt is piled on one parent to invest in their child at a professional level by the age 2?

 I am preaching to myself—the mom who’s kids are in a high level sport development program, the mom who sought the best dance program for her 3 year old, the mom who just makes the crazy work for the sake of her kids’ [future]. Holy moly, if only our limited view wasn’t so flawed. If only I’d look up every once in a while and realize I am not really in control of futures...I am only a mom trying to invest in her kids’ present. Jack Black is screaming in my head,”Stick it to the man!”

But really, I am going to do what I can do—I can’t let expectations or columnists or activity directors or—even more powerful—other parents—(yikes)—dictate my philosophies. Philosophies? How about survival to bring up decent humans and enjoy some of the process? A low key philosophy I am beginning to own more and more. I will do a lot for my children, I have... but I might start doing more with my hands covering my ears—and my heart focused on being...and NOT doing so much.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Standing in the Contrast




Last night, I sat with my husband and celebrated 19 years of marriage. Almost 23 years of knowing him. That’s over half my life with the guy. I can honestly say...we’re not sick of each other yet. :P
Trust me, there have been seasons....

 The last half of 2018 was weird for me...and it has stuck through the New Year. It’s like I am standing in a big room of treasures and all the shine has dulled, and I want to fall to my knees and cry. Pretty specific, right?
But life’s joys have only come hand in hand with trials and heartache, and the world’s stuff has suddenly become clutter and ridiculous—like partying among the starving, dumping money while a man without a roof sits and watches. I am not saying that I don't enjoy life, but in some instances I sense that my heart is stripped bare, and I realize that I've been a sucker for a wrong way of thinking--being. I feel like 1984, Brave New World, and The Hunger Games are more than fiction, but dire warnings of what world I am offering to my kids.

Yesterday, I sat in my son's counselor’s office and flipped through the book of The Great LIFE Photographers. The photographs mostly dated between 1930’s to 1980’s. I’d see dolled up Marilyn Monroe amidst horrific shots of massacres and POW’s. There were gorgeous first photos of life in the womb and devastated humanity weeping over carnage. I wish I could say I walked away appreciating life, but my heart is still disturbed by the contrasts.

No one moment in time is pure and good. I breathe air in my comfortable suburban neighborhood and kiss my kids before they leave, while someone sits among rubble and weeps over their dead child in a war-torn country.

 The gratitude I felt for this media mingled with the hypocrisies I hear for/against the same media. These days, we think reporters, photographers, newscasters are either lying to us in the most underhanded way, or we completely devour what they tell us if it aligns with our own opinion.

I see the poles of extremism wreaking havoc on our world when I look at the pictures of the past. And after the humanity captured in these pages, and shown to us in each generation,  I don’t understand how we are still gathering around those poles today.

We are just not enough. Everything is dulled. We can't save the world, and the world is certainly not saving us. Our cultures are bankrupt--some in the physical sense and some in their very human spirit. The good deed will always pale in comparison to the horror over there.

I sat at our anniversary dinner last night and shared with my husband my impressions of the book. I am pretty careful with him when it comes to “overspiritualizing”. I used to be preachy and angry, but then I grew up. Now, we have some great conversations learning to talk in the contrast of atheist vs. believer.

 But, last night, I was so overwhelmed by the havoc of that book on my heart I just spilled it...

 “I get Christ more.”

 And, my husband, gracious as he is, was ok with it.

I get the message more. The absolute explosive message of Christ. Everything Christ pointed out and condemned was followed up by Grace that really didn't make sense to the listener. Obviously it didn't because look at us still--cringing at the different, celebrating death for gain, ignoring the breadline forming beneath the billboard of a happy suburban family living "The American Dream".

These worldly boundaries that defy, or deny, the human spirit aren't in Christ's message at all.

Yet, in our corrupt humanity, we are valuable. Christ came to salvage it all because we are all valuable. Do I treat every person I see as valuable? I am the worst of these...

 So, these past 19 years have brought me to a place where I stand in the contrast. I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t want to be duped by the pull of bankrupt life. I have this partner who allows me to weep and fume and smile and share—for 19 years we are finally getting real.
 Life is real.
And it’s fleeting. It’s fleeting here in Suburbia, and there in war-torn Syria. I pray that for as many moments my husband and I have shared in 19 years, we discover and grapple with the realness of life enough to fill up and pour out my humanity for another 19.