Not Right Now

“Patience is power.
Patience is not an absence of action;
rather it is “timing”
it waits on the right time to act,
for the right principles
and in the right way.”
Fulton J. Sheen

(Do not ask me to tell you anything about Fulton J. Sheen as I have never heard of him? her? but when I found this quote, I knew I simply had to add it to this article.  It was too perfect.)

The past month has been rough.  Bad news has come what seemed like daily.  Commitments have arisen.  Hearts have been broken.  Unfamiliar has become familiar. But one thing is for certain… lessons have been learned.

Over the years, I’ve had lots of ideas.  Ideas, dreams, pursuits.  None of them ever worked out.  The dreams would fizzle out as quickly as they were thought up.  Months, even years of hard work I’ve watched slip through my fingers.  I could do nothing about it because circumstances would no longer allow me to chase frivolous diversions.  It wasn’t practical.  I had babies to birth, nurse, care for, educate… I heard God whisper to me, “Not now.”

This past weekend, the family devoted our time to rearranging several rooms, adding a loft bed for the youngest to have his own space for sleeping, and turning the “play room” into more of a “school room”.  We have officially moved into the big kid phase of parenting.  All three of our children are “school age”.  They are all pretty self-sufficient.  This is the space I’ve been waiting to enter since I became a mother eleven years ago.  Things are so much easier and there is energy left over for things I might want to do.

So I believe it’s no coincidence that the things I had been asked to wait on are now coming back into my life.  Full circle. My head is spinning.  At some point, I truly believed that I’d never ever ever get the chance to explore my art again. I’d never get to do any *real* writing.  I’d never appear on the stage again.  And all of those dreams I had about serving mothers in my community by providing them with artistic opportunities? Ha!  As if.  I was a mom.  And I’d better be happy with that.

But, miraculously, all of the things I’ve only dreamed of doing while I was breastfeeding, diapering, and parenting little kids are coming back around again.  I am writing, I am cast in a small role in a local production, and, I might even be rebirthing that whole Artsy Mamas thing I started a few years ago. The realization that there is plenty of time to do it later is helping me to stop and breathe a little bit more often.  I am feeling less pressure to write that book, get that play finished, create that masterpiece.  One day.  Meanwhile, I’ll work at a pace that doesn’t take me away from my family and friends.  Children won’t keep.  But if I have any actual talent, it will.

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A Mother’s Easter Reflections

easter-love-2There has been some chunk of time, with each of my children, when our relationship has been less than perfect.  At age three, my youngest decided he hated me and had no trouble saying it to my face, literally, every day.  Until she was about four, my daughter and I had a difficult time communicating and we didn’t especially enjoy one another.  And my oldest child has lashed out at me countless times as he struggled with having cancer, being dyslexic, and general displeasure with life.

I won’t pretend that these situations were easy for me.  I cannot deny that I didn’t delight in being treated cruelly, rejected, and hated by my own children.  It hurt.  Like hell.  And I sincerely hope I never have to experience anything so painful again.

This weekend, all three of my children were especially sweet to me.

Friday night, I tried to convince my youngest to give me a good night kiss.  He refused.  Finally, I rolled over and pretended to cry.  He said, “You aren’t really crying.”  “You did hurt my feelings though,” I replied.  There was a beat and then he wrapped his sweet arms around me, took a pause, and whispered, “Good night, Mommy.  I love you.”  Oh my heart. He does care.

Yesterday, my sweet little girl who has told me that the reason we couldn’t get along when she was little was because she couldn’t communicate her needs effectively, sat on my lap and sang a love song to me. The lyrics went something like…

I love my Mommy.

She is so good to me.

She does such nice things.

She is so beautiful.

And I am so glad she is mine.

Finally, last night, I had a little boy tell me that he was excited about an Easter basket which I’d decided to skip out on.  So my oldest accompanied me to make a run to Walgreens and Dollar General so we could grab a few items to put in baskets.  As we were leaving, he held the door open for me as he said, “After you, m’lady.”  He held my hand off and on all day.  He’s eleven.  I feel incredibly lucky to have his affections still.  I realize the time is limited and he might not always want to snuggle and watch Seinfeld with me every single night.  But for now, I still have him.

While the times when my children have felt far away from me were difficult, I feel proud in knowing that my patience, my love, my constantness kept pulling them back in.  No matter how many times my children reject me, hurt me, and insist that I am mean, I never stop loving them.  My love for them is not dependent upon how well they are treating me at the moment.

Today is Easter.  As I reflect upon these thoughts, I notice similarities between my relationship with God and my relationship with my children.  God loved me even when I rejected Him.  God kept pulling me closer, even when I pushed Him away.  He never deserted me.  He never gave up on me.  He waited, patiently, constantly reminding me that He wasn’t going anywhere and that, no matter what I did, I couldn’t get rid of Him.

I have watched earthly parents reject, humiliate, hurt, and ignore their children.  I can, with confidence, say that I will never be that parent.  Not because I am superior or have somehow mastered being the perfect human.  No.  Because I have my heavenly Father as a model.  As long as my love for my own kids is not unlike the love I receive from my heavenly Father, we should be okay.  Even on days when they think I’m mean and unfair, we should be okay.

In general, I am struggling with my identity as a Christian, with my feelings toward church, and my feelings toward the people who call themselves Christians and then behave in a way that is very much unlike Christ.  But one thing with which I’m not struggling is God’s love.  I’m sure of it.  I feel it.  I know it’s there.  And I’m thankful that I’ve had enough sense to use it to guide me as a parent.

A Theological Conversation Upon the Arrival of Easter

Somehow the conversation with my children turned to God and theology so I decided to ask them a few questions.  Here I share with you their answers.

Drayken is age 6.

Ronin is age 9.

Hunter is age 11.

What do you think God looks like?
Ronin:  Well, isn’t the theory that God has brown hair and a brown beard with a brown robe?

Hunter:  That’s what He looks like on The Simpsons.

But what do YOU think He looks like?  Is he a tangible person who you can actually see or something else?

Hunter:  No, I don’t think so.

Ronin:  I think maybe God is a spirit.

Drayken:  I think God is everywhere.

Why do you think we call God a He?

Ronin:  Maybe we just call God a He because that is what comes naturally to us?  But I think God is genderless.

Do you think that Jesus died on the cross to erase our sins or did Jesus die because we are sinners?

Ronin:  The last thing.  I think maybe Jesus died to get us to STOP sinning.  So that we would see what our sins could do, how terrible our sins can be.