It has been about two weeks since the kiddos left, and in that two weeks I have been kind of detoxing/shaking-it-out/recovering from all of my emotions and exhaustion that accompanied the experience. For the most part, it has been mostly self- (and family-) preservation, but not that much sad stuff.
And then today it happened--I was going through some of my pictures on my computer, and there were their super cute faces, and I remembered sweet and good things and moments of grace that encouraged me, and I felt pangs of sadness and loss.
My little cuties!
They were here, and now they are gone.
I love them.
I cared for them.
I tried so hard.
And they were taken away, lifted from my arms.
I knew that sooner or later the sadness would come. And here it is.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Sunday, June 16, 2013
I was brought up going to various evangelical churches, and that is what I have continued to do as an adult. However, I find that I have an increasingly wide distance between my beliefs/practices and those of my church. This has left me wondering what churches I might actually line up with in beliefs. It seems like the Episcopal church might be a fit of some sort, but I am skeptical about whether or not I will even care to attend a church that I do agree with. I've always been an independent thinker and a person that has no problem with standing alone. It is not important to me to be surrounded by people who agree with me. In fact, I don't even care to discuss most of these issues. I feel comfortable with my beliefs, they make sense to me; when I want to learn more or be challenged I read a book on the subject, and in the meantime I live my life without needing to advertise everything going on in my head. I'm not sure that I even feel a need to invest my time, money, or energy into any church at this time. I think that life is so very, very full already, it just seems sensible to focus on those things that are in front of me and carry on. I'm tired, and so is everybody else in this family. Are we somehow obligated to keep pushing ourselves for some church-y cause? If so, says who?
I do ask myself, from time to time, if there is value in removing oneself from the regular daily life and become immersed in something spiritual. I suppose the answer could be yes.
When I read about the church schedule that some of my Orthodox friends follow, I find myself feeling very turned off. There is -nothing- in me that would want to run my life around church, church, church, and more church. It sounds exhausting and brutal and as if it would take the place of much of the home and family life that I value so highly. I accept that this may be beautiful and deeply meaningful for many people. I also accept that I am probably not one of them.
We have enjoyed some home groups over the years. When we were first married we had a group in our neighborhood that met. In nice weather we pulled lawn chairs out into the lawn, sat in a circle, and had an informal church experience that was really nice. We've been in some good groups and some less-serious groups as well. Connecting with people like that, and having a discussion atmosphere has been satisfying in many ways. However, having evolved quite a bit in my beliefs, I'm not sure what group I'd fit into any more. And like I said, I'm not sure I feel the need for one.
Mainly I'm concerned that my kids get what they need, and a growing part of me suspects that this is one of those questions that will only be answered in retrospect. Church will always be there, I suppose, and I do believe that God is capable of doing His work in spite of my mistakes or shortcomings. That's a bottom-line comfort.
I don't want to go to church.
There. I said it.
This isn't really a new revelation. Other than a few scattered years when we went to churches that we (temporarily) really, really enjoyed, or when our kids actually liked to go to church, the rest of our 22 years of marriage have mostly been with us being maybe half-time church attenders, if that.
I don't have a chip on my shoulder about church.
Nobody hurt my feelings, offended me, made me feel judged, or seemed like a hypocrite.
I just don't see the value in it.
Every week when we go to church this is what happens:
-We all drag out of bed when we don't want to (often on our only possible day that we could have slept in and rested).
-We struggle to hurry up.
-The kids complain (because they don't like going to church either....and our church considers itself to be really *fun* for kids. ha)
-We drive a half hour to get there. The music is disappointing. The kids go to classes that they don't enjoy. We see some people we like, though mostly I feel like it doesn't really matter if we show up or not. We hear a sermon which is practical, but often very much like a self-help article that is not nearly as enriching as something I could have read in my Oprah magazine at home. We drive back home, or go buy pizza and then drive back home. And it feels like the day has been rushed and pushed and not nice.
Why do we bother?
I like our pastor. He is a good guy with good ideas and I enjoy his talks.
We have some really high-quality people in our church that are very nice to be around.
I trust the adults that work with our youth group.
There really isn't anything "bad" going on.
I just don't care. There just isn't enough there to make me want to go more than I want to stay at home.
If we're honest with ourselves, nobody at my house wants to go to church. Ever.
So, why fight it?
And why is the "correct" answer among today's church-going people that we should busy ourselves with going to church and keeping the church machine running, instead of things like having a day of rest, that was apparently considered a priority from the beginning of the earth, before church existed?
I do not see my kids getting anything super great out of church attendance. Indeed, though I was raised in churches that did encourage me to memorize Bible verses and the Romans Road and such, I mainly credited my growing Christian faith on the good stuff I got from my Christian school that I attended. Call me crazy, but I sort of think they will benefit more from what we are living, what we are talking about, how we are treating people, etc. rather than being stuck in classes that leave them tuned-out.
My idea is that church should be some sort of catalyst in my spiritual life. I don't think that has really been the case, though.
Other possibly good reasons to go to church: corporate worship (which is also super disappointing at our current church, and is so distractingly bad that I cannot get past it), and fellowship with other Christians. I can sing along to KLOVE in the car for a better worship time any day of the week, and feel that I make zero meaningful connections with anyone while I'm at church. So....there's that.
And lest I be accused to only being concerned with myself, I will also add that I do not believe that God is really concerned about where I'm spending time on Sunday mornings either. What good does it do God for me to drive over to church to endure it for an hour?
Sorry. I'm not drinking it.
If I didn't have still-young kids, I wouldn't even consider going to church at all. It is only my parental responsibility that right now makes me grapple with this at all. I do wonder if a decent family devotional would be an improvement over whatever it is that they do in their classes at church.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Tis the season when we see many article decrying the way Mother's Day is handled, and how it hurts those who have lost children, who haven't been able to have children, and so forth. While I certainly can appreciate this and would hope that churches and other organizations could learn ways to somehow be more inclusive and less upsetting to these women, I have a few feelings about this myself.
For years I have attended a church that does nothing for Mother's Day. No mention. No carnations. No honoring. Nothing.
And you know what? It hurt.
I'm a mother of six children. I have busted my butt for over 20 years to do my job as a mother and do it well. I have sacrificed greatly in order to take care of my children in a way that seems right to me.
So now I'm supposed to feel bad if my church honors me in some way on Mother's Day? My church is supposed to feel bad if they want to honor moms and dads on their respective holidays? Does everyone else's loss negate my turn at having something?
And it's not just me that I'm talking about.
I think of my friends who planned carefully for the right time to have a baby, then lost their first baby to a miscarriage that rocked their world. These sweet and lovable people had pretty much everybody that knows them cheering them on as they finally did have a precious baby boy. I know I am not the only person at church that has cried a little while seeing this couple snuggle and love their little son. Other than myself, I can't think of a couple I was more excited to see have a baby. This woman deserves the fullness of her Mother's Day, not to have it quietly swept under the rug because someone else might be reminded of their pain.
Motherhood is part pain for all of us.
It may be a struggle to get or stay pregnant.
Many of us have lost babies to miscarriage and stillbirth and illnesses and accidents.
We all have pain to bring our children into the world, whether through our bodies or through even more difficult channels, such as adoption.
Many suffer to breastfeed, or to not, the sleepless nights, the broken hearts (both ours and our children's), the injuries, the hospitalizations, the difficult choices about their educational paths and their futures.
We. All. Have. Pain. related to our journey as women and mothers. Life is beautiful and life is painful. They go hand-in-hand.
Can we not celebrate and honor those that have something to celebrate and honor? Do those that have emerged from some pain to have children to show for it also have to give up having some special treatment because someone else is sad? Can we mothers not even have one stinking day a year where society says, "Way to go! We could not do it without you! You are so important to us!"without having someone else make us feel like we have to give something up for someone else?
Yes, I do think that there is a way to both honor mothers as well as not hurt those for whom motherhood is a painful subject. I'm just tired of seeing so much about Mother's Day turned into a focus that leaves out all the women who do have children.
Completely politically incorrect, I'm sure. For better or worse.
Sunday, May 05, 2013
I've been thinking lately about this strange and wonderful trip we call motherhood.
I don't have to list all of the ways that it has been wonderful. That much should be obvious.
The strange part is that I find myself looking around, 20 years into my motherhood journey, wondering where is the space for ME in my life.
There are 8 more years til my youngest is an official adult, and realistically there will be several more years beyond that where I will be needed as mom.
I look at the things I have spent my life doing for 20 years, and by and large it is all about my children (and husband, to a lesser degree). Yes, I've had my business ventures, and I'm thankful for that. But even business is largely impacted and constrained by motherhood and family priorities. The almost imperceptible growth is all about motherhood.
I know that some women manage to keep themselves in a starring role even while being a mother. I, however, have not.
I'm looking toward the next decade, both in anticipation of enjoying the final push of my mothering years with my children, but also wondering how I could better take care of myself and make space for myself to do some of the things that I would like to do. It has been so long since what I would like to do has even mattered, I'm not even sure what that is. I was watching a video with the kids today. It was about throwing pottery on a wheel. It looks so appealing, I found myself wondering if I could take a pottery class somewhere, and then of course How would I have time for this? and on and on with the regular objections that accompany all non-essential possibilities.
I have made a start. I booked a reservation to go away and visit with a friend. More daring: I have only met her in person once, and then have been facebook friends ever since. She is always posting interesting things and I found myself thinking that she would be a cool person to go hang out with. I told her so, she thought it was a great idea, and now here we are with a trip planned for the end of June.
I'm hoping to make myself more of a priority. I'm not sure that 30 years of living in mom-mode only is good for any of us.
And, yes, I realize that this is in contrast to my recent posts about wanting to take time to smell the roses with my kids, about my enthusiasm for upcoming homeschooling opportunities, and about my desire to pour out my best upon my family. That's the funny thing about motherhood. I love it deeply and fully, but I am also needing some space to fill myself back up so I can keep giving, and also so I am not overwhelmed by the demands and sometimes smothering aspects of constant service to others. I do not need a lot, but I do have needs. What can I say? I want more.
Thursday, May 02, 2013
I am looking forward to continuing to homeschool my boys. I have been reading The Writer's Jungle and am feeling very inspired.
Now that we have done one year of Challenge A, I feel like I have some better ideas of how to help my next Challenge A student do well with it.
I am dreaming and wishing to do so many things with them:
Art projects (I discovered while tutoring that I was actually capable of leading cool art projects and creating cool art! Now I'd really like to do more.)
Real music and art appreciation
Writing in many ways, using the Brave Writer ideas as well as some IEW methodology
Reading: Once we started with CC two years ago we stopped doing Sonlight. I miss the books and would like to get back to reading to them. There are some wonderful books that I read with my older kids but the youngers would not remember. Kildee House, Sign of the Beaver, and others keep calling to me.
Discussions: There are so many books that I would like to read through and discuss with my boys. I have The Fallacy Detective on the shelf (where it has been for years, unopened) and it seems like it would be interesting to work through with them. Devotionals, skills, ideas--they are all getting old enough to have some pretty cool conversations with. It's exciting!
Going places: We have a very energy efficient car that I can fit into with my four boys, so that makes going on interesting field trips less daunting. We haven't done much this past year for educational outings. I would like to revive that.
Better at CC stuff: I am understanding more ways to help us gain skills that we work on in CC and will help us in future endeavors. Blob mapping and better memorization skills will hopefully be coming up next year.
It is fun to think about all of the possibilities. I am hoping that I can map out a (somewhat) realistic plan that we can accomplish in the coming school year. And, heck--even if I only get some of the stuff done, it is fun to think about, some can spill over to the next year, and life will continue to take shape. It's all good stuff.
My Don't Hurry, Don't Worry day was a success.
I don't think I got to sit outside and enjoy the breeze, but everything else that I wished for did happen.
When was the last time I can remember doing almost everything on my To Do list? Too long ago to remember.
Several years ago I came up with this saying:
Don't worry, don't hurry.
I am hoping to live that today.
Yes, there is a lot to do, but it will all get done (or not) and life will go on.
I am going to
enjoy my kids
enjoy folding laundry
enjoy having some friends over for dinner
read some more of The Writer's Jungle (which is wonderful and inspiring)
take a shower and wash my hair and just enjoy it and not feel rushed about it
hand wash dishes (because the dishwasher has died) and just enjoy it
sit outside and feel the breeze on my skin (just did that last night and thought to myself that too often we discount the luxuries that nature provides!)
make homemade lasagne for dinner
do what I can and not worry about the rest.
It is going to be a beautiful day.
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
I heard it again yesterday.
I was talking to a friend and we were discussing possible times to get together. "Friday is a possibility for me," I offered. She then launched into how crazy her Friday would be, since her two daughters would be attending their first prom. Hair, nails, makeup, and special dresses would be taking up most of her time and attention that day.
And then she said it: "I just wish it would all be over! I'm so busy! It's too much!"
I heard myself in that comment. I mentioned that to her, too. This thing that keeps happening to me, where life is going on in the form of birthdays, special events, holidays, concerts, games, and so on, and for some reason we keep finding ourselves feeling strung out, over-burdened, and too busy to be able to enjoy it.
We just want it over.
So we can get on with whatever all that other stuff is that isn't extra special.
I am wanting to find a way to make consistent space in my life for all of the special times. I am sick of feeling like I just want to get this over about so many things. My babies are growing up. One is already out flying in the world, and the second one just turned 17. The third one pointed out to me, just yesterday, that in a little over a year he'll be driving. Heck, my 5th kiddo was just asking me, "So in 4 years I'll be driving, right?" Um.....yes......
In the next 8 years I am going to have 5 children become adults. I am suddenly in the final stretch. I want it to count! I want to live it all and not be so often overwhelmed and unprepared and run down by the demands of life.
We only get to do this life once. I want to live mine well.