The blog has been blank for a while but my mind has not. It has been spinning with to-do lists and reminders, ideas and questions. Big and small: did I drop that present off for the birthday party we attended last month or have I just misplaced it? Did I sign up for all these roles in the school fundraiser or just speak too much in the meeting? How are my girls report cards good when they appear to be utterly bored in class, learning to walk the halls silently rather than be ignited by a new idea? Can we risk thinking big for our women’s event at church and then make it good enough to pay for our speaker? Will I be inspired by this woman or jealous I have some of her talents and have not found a way to have them discovered? What is wrong with me? Why does my mood match the weather today, cold and dreary and quiet? I was supposed to be in Denver this weekend to become certified as a pure barre instructor. While the schedule was a bit daunting with it’s 8 hours of lifting, toning, and burning, all at altitude, I was looking forward to the challenge. I had even laid off the wine for two weeks in preparation. Well that might still have been recovery from the 40th birthday beach blowout two weeks ago. But as one of my fellow celebrators said, “40 is the new 21” and that says it all, no need for details in print. My college roommate lives in Denver and I have not seen Dr. Leslie since her wedding 9 years ago. She hates her birthday but Friday was her 40th and I was going to be part of the celebration until the first major blizzard of the year had to spoil all the fun. So maybe I am more bummed out than I am aware. And I am anxious about trying to schedule another weekend away with three kids and a man who works Sundays.
I didn’t use to think of myself as anxious person but I guess I am. The dictionary defines anxiety as: mental distress or uneasiness because of fear of danger or misfortune. I would edit the danger part of my definition; I am pretty willing to try anything risky at least once. But misfortune? I worry I am living it. I think about the choices I make today as being the wrong ones for the future. I fret I am not making the hard choices because, well, they are too hard right now and thus I will miss out in the end. I think about the times I have spoken to my child in frustration -can’t you see I am too busy making you dinner to see the cool project you made with blocks-and worry this is all they will remember of their childhood. Shouty Crackers Mom. I have uneasiness about becoming a constant complainer rather than someone who sees a better way of doing things AND chooses that way with kindness.
What has me most anxious right now is an email I received this week. At church, we have a parenting class led by a pediatrician and early childhood educator. Parents sit in a circle and ask questions about our children that seem to have exhausted all the resources of what appear to be otherwise sane, capable people. I have learned a million good tips in there, the greatest of which is the idea of sharing our stories and laughing with one another about raising our kids. The email came from our leader asking me to speak to the group about what we do in our home to raise our children in a Christian way.
Talk about a punch to the face. I am not sure what the question even asks. I know for sure my reaction is to say I am not qualified to respond. When I stop and ponder what I could come up with, I am sure it won’t measure up to what people want to hear from their minister’s wife. The honest thing would be to say our Christian spirit is so sucked dry by the work of the church, their is not much left for our children. But that would be to cruel. Or honest. Or weak. We made an advent wreath once and lighted the candles at Sunday night dinner. But it quickly became a test to see who would remember to light the candle and build a memory for our kids. When I discovered the responsibility laid solely with me, I resented it. And thus decided to chuck it out the window. We have bedtime routine: dinner, baths, stories, prayers, snuggling. I believe ending the day in a warm safe place filled with love is Godlike.
I don’t have a ritual or philosophy or text to tell people: this is our key. I am not sure I am even comfortable with the idea of people looking towards me or my children as an example for ideas about how to live life. To be honest, I feel lost and alone much of the time. I feel far away from God, by choice, unfortunately. It seems church sucks away the Holy Spirit we should be welcoming in to our home.
What I do do is teach my children to be kind. And strong. And honest. And smart. And independent. None of these sound Christian. And yet, when I look at my girls I find what is coming out looks more like witness, truth, and real. Perhaps that is where God intervenes. To mold the clay. What I teach my girls does not seem inherently Christian but it feels right to me. Be you. God loves you and created you perfectly. And even though the world and your choices will tell you otherwise, you are enough. You have been more than that, to me, since the day you were born.
I learned a new prayer last year and I am obsessed with it. It is on the “about” part of my blog but I am going to put it here to make sure my readers see it. It is by Reverend William Sloane Coffin, junior.
May God give you the grace to never sell yourself short, the grace to risk something big for something good, and the grace to know the world is now too dangerous for anything but the truth and too small for anything but love.
That is what I want my girls to know. It is what I need to remind myself of everyday. And it is what I am put on earth to practice. Oh and don’t forget to brush your teeth and love your sisters.