Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Choosing Family

Two thoughts.

One: Yesterday was an extremely hard day with my toddlers. And it wasn't just them. I was definitely having a hard day (one of those days where my patience seems to have left entirely), thus overreacting a lot of times to them and getting upset, even over things that I might normally be okay with.

End result equation looks something like this:

Bad day = feeling like a lousy mother

Send me in for a replacement!

Two: Over the past week I have thought of two friends of mine, now grown children to their parents, and the struggles they are going through -- and consequently, that their parents and family are also going through. I have felt sadness as I have reflected on this, but there is joy there, too.

Because of the love.

I have thought about a comment someone once said to my husband when he expressed the anxiousness he feels to have our boys grow up and be able to interact with them. This friend's comment to him had been something to the effect that no, you don't want them to grow up. He meant, of course, that at this age, as challenging as the toddler years can be in some ways, they are still innocent, sweet, and essentially unaware of all the potential struggles they can face later. (That's what I came away understanding, anyway.) I think he meant, in other words, that the potential for grief isn't yet a real possibility.

But I think it is -- in some small way, though I understand it isn't the same.

I have thought about these friends this week, and had my own inside tremors as I wonder what challenges will lie ahead for my now little ones. I know my family won't be immune to struggles, to mountains that are bigger than our own strength to climb. And I wonder what those struggles will be.
I know I can't pray them away, that I can only pray for the wisdom and courage and strength to bear them when they come, and to know what to do.

I'm convinced that the reason the pain is so great is because the love is also so dear.
And that is what I mean by the potential for grief already being in place -- even with little ones.

This all seems so brought to the surface for me, in a way, since having Mia. I took some time to write down her birth story in my journal, and was thinking again about how special and sacred that experience was.
I've marveled anew at the fierce attachment and love you feel for your newborn child. At the joy of having children. Of being a mother. A wife. Of choosing family. Choosing motherhood -- the way all women can, whether they have children or not.
My heart has felt swollen with joy at this role.
And I think, inherent in choosing family, you choose love and grief.

Just before Mia was born, Scott, the boys and I were out Christmas shopping for my dad. A lady stopped us in the mall, and in the course of conversation she said to me, jokingly, "So what do you do in your spare time?" I laughed and kind of commented that I don't really have any and she said, "[These are] the best days of your life." She talked about how just a few days before she'd been wishing she could bottle that time and open it up again, how having all of her children home for Thanksgiving made her sad when they left and the house was empty again.
I'll be honest. I get frustrated at my own limitations -- particularly when my patience wears out -- and frustrated and sad as I realize that each moment counts, that my life is full of breathtaking moments -- and they are happening right now, every day. I don't want this time to end. I want this family thing to go on forever.

I know that it does, and so that gives me a measure of comfort, but because that seems so far in the distance, so part of another future and another time -- and I have yet to walk and complete this life's cycle of aging -- it requires my faith to believe it is true and that all this beauty will continue to bloom.

Even amid whatever grief comes.

This is truly what life is all about.

And, for spiritual nourishment, I also wanted to link to this talk that has come to mind again and again in the past couple months. Seems to fit in nicely here.

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