Wednesday, January 18, 2012


 Due to some comments I got on FB about my article I thought I might need to make a few clarifications! First, it has never offended me for people to tell me to enjoy my kids. I know they are right...and I DO. I love parenting and I love each one of my precious children. My appreciation for this article was her point that it's OK to admit that it's tough. And not every single second is always joy inducing in the moment. I know down the road I will look back and see how fast it all went by. In fact there are moments when I feel that way now. (Maybe some of those "Kairos" moments?) But for me it was refreshing to think that I don't have to feel guilty for not always loving every single second. And just because you feel like it's tough doesn't mean you don't enjoy being a parent. I still love my children and am so grateful for the privilege of being a parent. And I'm thankful for the tough times too.
   Anyway, hope no one takes this the wrong way.

Sharing a thought

 A friend posted this article on FB the other day, and it resonated with me, so I thought I would share it. (You can go to the original article here. I always like to link back to the source.)

Don't Carpe Diem

Every time I'm out with my kids -- this seems to happen:
An older woman stops us, puts her hand over her heart and says something like, "Oh, Enjoy every moment. This time goes by so fast."
Everywhere I go, someone is telling me to seize the moment, raise my awareness, be happy, enjoy every second, etc, etc, etc.
I know that this message is right and good. But, I have finally allowed myself to admit that it just doesn't work for me. It bugs me. This CARPE DIEM message makes me paranoid and panicky. Especially during this phase of my life - while I'm raising young kids. Being told, in a million different ways to CARPE DIEM makes me worry that if I'm not in a constant state of intense gratitude and ecstasy, I'm doing something wrong.
I think parenting young children (and old ones, I've heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they've heard there's magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting the climb are impressive accomplishments. They try because during the climb, if they allow themselves to pause and lift their eyes and minds from the pain and drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it's hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they literally cried most of the way up.
And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers -- "ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU'LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN'T!" TRUST US!! IT'LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!" -- those well-meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.
Now. I'm not suggesting that the sweet old ladies who tell me to ENJOY MYSELF be thrown from a mountain. These are wonderful ladies. Monkees, probably. But last week, a woman approached me in the Target line and said the following: "Sugar, I hope you are enjoying this. I loved every single second of parenting my two girls. Every single moment. These days go by so fast."
At that particular moment, Amma had arranged one of the new bras I was buying on top of her sweater and was sucking a lollipop that she must have found on the ground. She also had three shop-lifted clip-on neon feathers stuck in her hair. She looked exactly like a contestant from Toddlers and Tiaras. I couldn't find Chase anywhere, and Tish was grabbing the pen on the credit card swiper thing WHILE the woman in front of me was trying to use it. And so I just looked at the woman, smiled and said, "Thank you. Yes. Me too. I am enjoying every single moment. Especially this one. Yes. Thank you."
That's not exactly what I wanted to say, though.
There was a famous writer who, when asked if he loved writing, replied, "No. but I love having written." What I wanted to say to this sweet woman was, "Are you sure? Are you sure you don't mean you love having parented?"
I love having written. And I love having parented. My favorite part of each day is when the kids are put to sleep (to bed) and Craig and I sink into the couch to watch some quality TV,[ ], and congratulate each other on a job well done. Or a job done, at least.
Every time I write a post like this, I get emails suggesting that I'm being negative. I have received this particular message four or five times -- G, if you can't handle the three you have, why do you want a fourth?
That one always stings, and I don't think it's quite fair. Parenting is hard. Just like lots of important jobs are hard. Why is it that the second a mother admits that it's hard, people feel the need to suggest that maybe she's not doing it right? Or that she certainly shouldn't add more to her load. Maybe the fact that it's so hard means she IS doing it her own way...and she happens to be honest.
Craig is a software salesman. It's a hard job in this economy. And he comes home each day and talks a little bit about how hard it is. And I don't ever feel the need to suggest that he's not doing it right, or that he's negative for noticing that it's hard, or that maybe he shouldn't even consider taking on more responsibility. And I doubt anybody comes by his office to make sure he's ENJOYING HIMSELF. I doubt his boss peeks in his office and says: "This career goes by so fast...ARE YOU ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT IN THERE, CRAIG???? CARPE DIEM, CRAIG!"
My point is this. I used to worry that not only was I failing to do a good enough job at parenting, but that I wasn't enjoying it enough. Double failure. I felt guilty because I wasn't in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn't MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing. I felt guilty because honestly, I was tired and cranky and ready for the day to be over quite often. And because I knew that one day, I'd wake up and the kids would be gone, and I'd be the old lady in the grocery store with my hand over my heart. Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No.
But the fact remains that I will be that nostalgic lady. I just hope to be one with a clear memory. And here's what I hope to say to the younger mama gritting her teeth in line:
"It's [] hard, isn't it? You're a good mom, I can tell. And I like your kids, especially that one peeing in the corner. She's my favorite. Carry on, warrior. Six hours till bedtime." And hopefully, every once in a while, I'll add -- "Let me pick up that grocery bill for ya, sister. Go put those kids in the van and pull on up -- I'll have them bring your groceries out."
Anyway. Clearly, Carpe Diem doesn't work for me. I can't even carpe fifteen minutes in a row, so a whole diem is out of the question.
Here's what does work for me:
There are two different types of time. Chronos time is what we live in. It's regular time, it's one minute at a time, it's staring down the clock till bedtime time, it's ten excruciating minutes in the Target line time, it's four screaming minutes in time out time, it's two hours till daddy gets home time. Chronos is the hard, slow passing time we parents often live in.
Then there's Kairos time. Kairos is God's time. It's time outside of time. It's metaphysical time. It's those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day. And I cherish them.
Like when I actually stop what I'm doing and really look at Tish. I notice how perfectly smooth and brownish her skin is. I notice the perfect curves of her teeny elf mouth and her asianish brown eyes, and I breathe in her soft Tishy smell. In these moments, I see that her mouth is moving but I can't hear her because all I can think is -- This is the first time I've really seen Tish all day, and {}-- she is so beautiful. Kairos.
Like when I'm stuck in chronos time in the grocery line and I'm haggard and annoyed and angry at the slow check-out clerk. And then I look at my cart and I'm transported out of chronos. And suddenly I notice the piles and piles of healthy food I'll feed my children to grow their bodies and minds and I remember that most of the world's mamas would kill for this opportunity. This chance to stand in a grocery line with enough money to pay. And I just stare at my cart. At the abundance. The bounty. Thank you, God. Kairos.
Or when I curl up in my cozy bed with Theo asleep at my feet and Craig asleep by my side and I listen to them both breathing. And for a moment, I think- how did a girl like me get so lucky? To go to bed each night surrounded by this breath, this love, this peace, this warmth? Kairos.
These kairos moments leave as fast as they come- but I mark them. I say the word kairos in my head each time I leave chronos. And at the end of the day, I don't remember exactly what my kairos moments were, but I remember I had them. And that makes the pain of the daily parenting climb worth it.
If I had a couple Kairos moments during the day, I call it a success.

Carpe a couple of Kairoses a day.
Good enough for me.

'Til next time!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ponderings for 2012

In trying to compose my post for the New Year, I've had several conflicting ideas about how to do so. One)...just dive in, give an update what's going on with us and continue from there, or... Two), take a more serious turn and wax eloquent on the meaning of life, etc. etc.
 Well, I still haven't decided which I'm going to do yet, but maybe by the end of this post I'll know. How's that?
  On my mind at the moment is a discussion we were just having after Sunday dinner. (We often have family over and our discussions can range from politics to health to get the picture.) Today we were discussing perspectives on the Christian life. Mostly how easy it is to get caught up in just "doing things" that we lose sight of Christ and how focusing on Him is our only hope for accomplishing anything of value. That led me to another introspective consideration of my own struggle for perfection in my life and home. I think that as Christian's we all probably struggle with this to some degree or another, but for me this is what it might look like.
 I want my home to be organized and scheduled. I want to have meals on time and the kids performing their duties quickly and well (a.k.a. : perfectly). And I want to have this image of togetherness, while still being honest and real. And that's just the outside. I want to be perfectly in control of my emotions, responding at all times with patience and wisdom to every question, disaster, or situation that is thrust upon me. And I want to ALWAYS have that spiritual awareness and application that we are to "strive for" as Christians.  But then I realize that is all backwards, because then my focus is on doing and being all these things. I don't want my focus to be on my strivings or goals, but instead on Christ. For me, that is taking the time to get quiet first thing in the morning and give Him my day. No, not a formula. Not reading my Bible and praying (that I can easily do and check off my list), but taking time to "be still". To get quiet and let HIM speak to me. And then go on with my day. Do I do that? Sometimes. Do I want to make it a habit to do that? Yes. But only inasmuch as it doesn't become an item on the "to do list". Don't get me wrong, I absolutely think that we have to keep a steady diet of God's Word whether it's routine or completely absorbed. But my point is, that in itself is not enough to prepare my heart. The heart preparation comes from acknowledging my own insufficiency and His Grace! When I have done this, I am always amazed at how my day sort of takes care of itself. Am I perfect that day? No. Do my kids behave perfectly that day? No. BUT I have peace...and we have a mostly peaceful day. But then, I need to do it all again the next morning. And odds are, I will still be trying to run in the strength of that one day for a week or more.
  So...all of that to say, that's my application of what Paul meant when he said "What I would, I do not, and what I would not, that I do...."(and so on).
   Anyone who knows us ( meaning anyone who lives close enough to see us regularly) knows that most of my "wants" aren't actually a reality. My attempts to get there are what is. Most days I'm ok with that, but being in my last trimester means I not ok with anything (most of the time). Ask me in the morning and I'll say...things are going great! Ask me in the evening...and I'll tell you  that life is terrible, I'm an awful Mom, a complete failure, nothing got done today,....yeah, you get the picture. =)
  Soooooo, what exactly are my "New Year's Resolutions"? Hmmmm. Good question.
I'll tell you one thing....I plan to have a baby soon. Like hopefully 9.5 weeks from now. After that I might be able to tell you what some other things I want to get done are. Well, ok, I guess it's not as soon as I would like and I do have stuff to do in the mean time. Like teach my kids, and get ready for said baby. Yeah, guess that would be a good idea. (Sigh.) Some people...just have to be practical and all .
   Well, I never blog in the car, but I happened to bring my laptop this time as we are on our way back to church. I was kind of on a roll there and with my mind being the unreliable thing that it is lately I figured I might want to finish writing my post now or it wouldn't get done until maybe the end of Jan. 'Cause one act of procrastination always leads to another dontcha know. (smile)
  Anyway, now you know what this post tell me. I know there were no real updates, but seriously...just flip through some old posts and you pretty much know what happened. Have to save that for another time and day. =)
   Catch y'all later!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Some Christmas Snapshots

 I just got a CD from my Aunt Carol today (who delighted us by flying in from Houston to spend Christmas with us here) with her pictures of Christmas. I thought I would share some of my favs here for whoever is interested. I believe all of these were taken at our Family (siblings) Christmas Party. All of us (who live  here in town) got to be there except for Josh who had to work at the last minute. Of course, Pete and Holly in Virginia, and Mom, Dad, Janell and Rose in Mozambique were sadly missed!!!! Thank you again Aunt Carol!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Just wanted to share...

No, they aren't mine, but aren't they beautiful! A very close, sweet friend of mine, Britney Harper, had this precious pair last night. Weighing in at 6lbs 4 oz and 6 lbs 9oz and 19 inches, Brett and Baylee Harper are perfectly healthy! In answer to much prayer, the labor was completely complication free and Mommy is doing great too! The only sad part is I can't get there to love on these babies (they live in Florida). But hopefully soon I'll get to see them. Thought some of ya'll might want to know! =)

 I'll be posting again soon.....