Wild Horses

June 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

There is something about watching a child step into adulthood that leaves you with such powerfully conflicted emotion.  You stand and watch and there is nothing else you can do- just stand and watch.   When your children are small everything is so much easier.  Their wants and needs are so much easier to obtain for them, you can gift them so much, so easily.  But then comes that stumbling foal moment where the thing they want conflicts with what you feel is best for them.  But you can gently guide them back.

Then come stronger impossible things, friendships that break, the times they don’t make the team, the times where a boy breaks their heart.  Over the years their view of you changes; you descend from almost godlike parent who they love with a full-bodied  joy to someone worn and worn out a bit behind the time, at moments wise and at others all to fail-able and human, the point where they see you for what you are.  But you try to hold on and give them the direction you can.   And then one morning you wake up and you child has managed to break away almost completely and you see them running toward their own horizons, awkward but beautiful and free and all you can do is stare and thank God that you have come to the point where you can be a place of safety for them, but you know that anything you offer them has to be accepted on their terms.

This is the point where I am with my oldest.  I watch her go out a little farther almost every day, turning 18, high-school graduation,  job hunting, college hunting.  It hurts to know that I am completely unable to help her with these things.   I count myself lucky that she hasn’t picked up that tendency of some teens to emotionally abuse those closest to them – that teenage cruelty of being kind to everyone except your mom and dad on whom is heaped nothing but contempt as they realize that their parents are really just mortals.  Instead she is rather patent with us as her parents.  But even if she did have that rebellious streak we would still have held on this long, and at this point we would still have to let go.  But then I love watching this.  I love watching her go and there is nothing in the world more satisfying then the times she gets things right.  It is probably the oddest feeling in the world.  Some odd half remembered quote from CS Lewis about how love is taking as much joy and delight the achievements of someone else as you would if they were your own.  With children that becomes a bit muddled because it can feel like their victories are your victories and their failures your failures, but neither is the truth.
It would be unfair to pile my own hopes or ambitions onto her.  She is a vastly different person than I am.  So I sit here and watch her step into her moment of independent youth, beautiful in the sunshine of morning and watch her in love with herself, a body too young to ache, a heart still unburdened with the worries of life and I have to step back and just watch.  I remember that moment of explosive, restless, youthful passion and how much I desperately wanted to just be me – free, alive, young and loved.  And I can look back at my mistakes and regrets and know that I am just as incapable of recapturing that in myself as I am incapable of reliving that time through her.  I had my moment in the sun; this moment is her’s.

I love her and love watching her explode away from me into her own life.  And I turn to my younger children and I know, with the utter certainty that I could never really grasp with her that they too will one day set off on their own.  I am an older and wiser mother than I was with her.  But I know I will make totally new mistakes with each of them.  They will each come to the place where they see me too well, where they know how I have failed them.  And they will take off to their own adventures, wherever God’s will will blow them.  I will stand here and marvel at their beauty and hope that they always remember when they need me I am here waiting, and watching and wild horses couldn’t drag me away from them.

I have to laugh at myself

March 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

So, I have been totally overwhelmed the past two weeks and have been seriously remiss in my blogging efforts.   I am still working on my 40 bags but I haven’t been updating as well as I would like.

But I have to say it has been really fun hearing about how many people are doing the 40 trash bag thing this year.   I guess it has been sent out to a bunch of email lists and has been on a few forums.  I hope everyone who is doing it gets something valuable out of it and has a better Lent for the letting go of stuff.

Sarah is four

February 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

Hard to believe my sweet little baby is such a big girl.  But she is:

Sarah and her cake

Sarah, four candles and a pink cake.

Advice to Myself

January 20, 2010 § 2 Comments

I was thinking this morning about Disney’s Alice in Wonderland and this scene:

I suppose this describes me very well.  I give myself awfully good advice — my follow through is not as admirable.

I was thinking about this a bit this morning and I came to a couple of conclusions:

Stick with what is working, change what doesn’t, and  don’t change what does work in an attempt to fix everything.

I have a terrible habit of doing this.  Kyle called me on it last week when I sat down to rework the house work thing.  The past couple months had side tracked me and things had built up and chaos was starting to rule again.  I pulled out a piece of paper and starting thinking out-loud about changing things, routines and all that and he told me to stop.  We had a plan, it was working I just needed to go back to what worked.  I didn’t need to rework the whole thing.

Overall – A small change for the better that lasts is better than a temporary big change for the better.

I am sure there are some exceptions to this, but I know that the small changes that I make that stick do me more good in the long run than big changes that are only temporary.  I suppose enough small changes add up to big changes and that is even better.

I shouldn’t let myself get discouraged by the fact that I have to “start over”.

I find it kind of alarming that sometimes everything seems to slip all at once, but starting over is always the better option than just ignoring that fact that things are off  center again.   Starting over is the opportunity to go back to doing what works and to make small changes to the things that don’t.

A Reflection on Racism

January 18, 2010 § 1 Comment

Last June I posted a bit of a rant related to racism and homeschooling.   Last week I had occasion to mentally visit the topic again and this morning I have time to write about it… fitting for MLK day I guess.

My Hannah is eight years old.  She is the first of my children to have been homeschooled from the start.  Last week she and I were talking and somehow the conversation wound around to racism.  Hannah really had no idea what racism is, it never occurred to her that people would think less of someone based on the color of their skin or where that person’s ancestors had come from.   “That’s stupid”, was her honest assessment of the very idea.

The all come to him

Christ and the children of the world.

I couldn’t help but contrast this to my oldest daughter’s,  Ashley’s, experience which I wrote about last June:

When schools do try to teach diversity it is frequently out of context or worse full of politically correct social agenda.  I remember my daughter coming home from third grade heart broken one day, “mommy,” she asked sadly, “Why are white people so mean to black people?”  I was floored.   Where do you even start with that?  Her class had been immersed in Black History month for about six weeks.  Story after story about the horrible meanness of white people.  She had learned what no child should ever learn, that something was wrong with people like her and by extension with herself because of her skin color. We were able to point out that while some people were bigots that bigotry was a product of education and environment not of her ethnicity and that our family had several friends and even relatives with a variety of racial backgrounds and skin tones.  Do I trust the schools to do a great job teaching my children about the beauty and diversity of race, creed and culture?   In short, the answer is no.

The experiences of my daughter’s couldn’t be different and I think they illustrate something profoundly wrong in how our society deals with issues of race.

Some people would read the two stories of my daughters and be sure that Hannah was missing something and that Ashley was better off.  They would re-spin the two antidotes and say that Ashley came home with a heartfelt understanding of race issues, that she had learned how cruel and unjust society is and would be better equipped to go out and try to rectify the errors of the past, while Hannah is sheltered and unaware, that she is part of the problem since she isn’t sensitized to the struggles of minorities in society and unaware of the bias that she benefits from.

In my mind Hannah has escaped the brainwashing.  She doesn’t see herself as better because of her race, she doesn’t see others as inferior based on their race, she doesn’t even see race — she just sees skin-tone and that only as a description no more an indicator of status than hair-color.   Ashley’s paradigm had been shifted to see RACE, to see a victim and a villain, skin color meant more to her than a descriptive quality, it carries with it a crippling of the historic victim and a hobbling  of the historic villain.   I may be totally wrong, but I do not think this is what Dr Martin Luther King had in mind when he spoke of his dream.  To be judged only on the content of one’s character is much closer to Hannah’s colorblind world view than the painfully pan-tone aware view that Ashley had foist upon her in a public school classroom.

There is nothing empowering about believing that you are a member of a “victim class”.  In college in my required women’s studies classes I often found myself taking the minority view that women are not the poor hapless victims at the hands of evil men, especially white, privileged men, and that they had instead a varied history that reflected more than the monotonousness world view presented in my college classes.   I could actually get away with speaking my mind on this subject in class because, being female, I was free to reject the role of victim.  The men in my class were not so fortunate – the villain is not allowed to reject the role, no matter how removed from them by actual history or circumstance.  If a man in the class were to point out that it was women for instance who put their daughters into corsets or to point out that in a many cultures women and the children benefited from most of the double standards (women and children first in an emergency)  he would be soundly put in his place a a perpetrator of the horrible male hegemony.  Sexism is a charge that is hard to slough off, racism is worse.

Over the last year I have seen one thing very promising coming from our current president’s historic role as the first American President of African extraction.  We are quickly getting over the villain thing.  The first half of the year was peppered with accusations of racism against those who opposed the president’s agenda.  Don’t like the government handing out money hand over fist — you must be racist.  Opposed nationalization of health-care — again you are a racist.  The tea-party movement was labeled racist and the media was so enamored with that line of attack that MSNBC actually cropped a shot of an gun tooting protester to hide his dark skin – while the presenter prattled on about the raciest, gun-packing, protesters.  And people started to question the whole idea of racism as a political motivation.  They could say in their hearts, “I don’t have a thing against my neighbor who is black (or Asian, or Native American)   where do these people get off calling me racist because I don’t want to government in control of my healthcare.”

There were people who were excited to vote for Mr Obama because it was their chance to prove to the world, to themselves, to history, that America has grown beyond a racist past and that we no longer need to be hobbled and burdened by the roles of villain and victim — when the left and the media went right on playing the old race card it felt like something of a betrayal.  But of course they have only illustrated the classic problem of  victimology.   When wrong doing is assigned as a function of birth it can never be made right because it was unjust to begin with.    Little children should not be segregated into groups of historic victims and historic villains.  We should each be held accountable for our own actions, not the actions or circumstances of  our assumed ancestors.  There is no way my children will be able to compensate my neighbor’s children for historic racial injustices.  First off my children’s ancestors were not the slave owners of American History and the neighbor’s emigrated from Sudan less than two year ago.   A bit flippant of an assessment, perhaps,  but also an illustration of the reality of today.

The civil right’s movement of Dr King was working to address actual wrongs.  Wrongs in the enforcement of the law, inequalities in educational opportunity and civil discourse.  Moving onward, moving towards something better requires  a letting go of the past.  The wrongs of history can not be set right, only learned from.  The desperate attempt, even well intentioned, of rectifying past wrongs with present injustice can never set those past wrongs to right.  It could only perpetuate a circle of oppression and oppressor with the roles changing but the tragedy always the same.   No little girl with dark skin should ever come home from school feeling like she isn’t smart enough, or good enough or pretty enough because her skin is dark.  Not little girl with light skin should ever come home from school thinking she is bad, or her family is evil, or that she owes some debt she can’t repay because she was born with light skin.  Far better if every little girl would have to have the completely foreign idea of racism explained to them and then be able to wrinkle up their nose and declare the whole thought of judging people on such petty things as “stupid”.


January 14, 2010 § 2 Comments

Afternoon Pastimes

Afternoon Pastimes - Paul Alfred de Curzon

I have been thinking a lot lately about the importance of priorities, especially about understanding what my own priorities really are.

The defining of what my priorities should be  is very simple:  My relationship to God and my vocation as wife and mother.   In the basic  my faith, my marriage, my children, and my home.  Anything that negatively affects those things is, in the long run, detrimental to my happiness in this world and the next.

I have been reading 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller.  It is a good read with some terrific insight into the differences between vocation, career and job and it is a good and useful book especially for someone who is in need of a career change, but who doesn’t know how to break out of the rut they are in with their current career.  Mr Miller spends some time talking about seven areas of your life: Career, financial, social, family, physical, personal development, and spiritual, and the need for success and balance in all these areas.  I could easily quibble about that – religious life being an example where these priorities are very different, yet religious life is  rich and satisfying  for those who embrace it.  But it was interesting to me that I was reading about priorities – I think God answers many of my prayers with little bumps.   If I am praying for direction one thing will be repeating over and over — in conversations with friends, things I am reading, things I find online, news stories, random and seemingly disconnected and after about 20 little hints I see the pattern.

We went through a lot in 2009.  I need to set aside some time to ponder my priorities and get myself focused on the most important aspects of my life.

House cleaning.

January 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

Well, not really house cleaning, but definitely blog cleaning.   I have been keeping this blog since February of 2007 and I haven’t really done much maintenance on it.  So I am going through a round of catching up and cleaning up and figuring out what direction I want to go with the blog next.

Where Am I?

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