Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Silence Between Belief and Trust

I lost Joel yesterday.

It was only for about two minutes, but it was, by far, the worst two minutes of my life (including the minutes, many years ago, when a sociopath held a loaded gun to my head).  We went to the children's museum to play, like we do about twice a month.  While I was checking us in and getting change for a locker, I thought both kids were playing at the statue in the entryway.  But when I turned around to get them, I only found Sophie.  I checked the entry and the two open anterooms.  He wasn't there.  I told the woman in the gift shop, panic straining my voice, and I described him as I was running back and forth, frantic, calling his name.

The staff are experienced in this kind of thing, of course, and they found him pretty quickly, gave him to me, and took us off to a private room to recover.  I cried and held him, cried while they played, cried into Sophie's hair at naptime later.

Here's my problem, though: Our story has a happy ending.  As awful as those two minutes were, we were in a relatively safe place, prepared for and experienced in wandering-child recovery, and the only person who ever knew anything was wrong was me.  But what about the stories that don't end like this one?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Why I Believe

Whenever a piece of a song gets stuck in my head, playing in a loop over and over again, for hours or days, sometimes the only way to get rid of it is to go and listen to the song. There is something about sitting down and experiencing the fullness of the song that cures the repeating phrase, frees my mind.

Sometimes I have questions that do this same thing.  For about a month now, I've had a Question twisting back and forth through all my other thoughts.  It's a big Question, a hard one.  Scary.  In fact, the first time I've even spoken my Question out loud was last night during a conversation with my friend Dee (who writes Jumping Tandem, a blog you should be reading. Go ahead; I'll wait.)

But I said it out loud, and as far as I can tell, the world didn't stop.  So for the sake of my sanity, my ability to concentrate, or just to get it out of my head, I'm going to write it out loud, and own it, and experience its fullness.

I believe that God is Good. (Not just good, but Good.)
I believe it to my bones... but I don't know exactly why I believe it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Preemptive Strike - Preschooler Style

Last week, I posted about honesty, and about how I too often let my struggles go on silently.

So here I am, being honest again.

I am at a loss with Sophie's newest behavior problem.

For about the last week (maybe a little longer), Sophie's little tantrums (feet-stomping, arm-flailing, garden-variety four-year-old obnoxiousness) have taken an unexpected turn.  Sophie is now into preemptive punishment -- sending herself to time-out, barring herself from things she enjoys, taking away toys from herself... She's punishing herself before either Greg or I can step in.

I have no idea why she is doing this, what she aims to gain out of it, or how to help her correct it.

Sometimes, like when the kids are snuggling sweetly with me, or when Sophie shares with Joel instead of tackling him to the ground, or when Greg is chasing them and they are both shrieking with joy, I think, "Yes. This is awesome. I was made to do this. I love this."

Then there are times like today, when Sophie asked for gummies, and then AS I WAS OPENING THE PACKAGE, she said, "No. Fine! No gummies for me!"

My main thought: What the hell am I supposed to do with this kid?

Being honest about my struggles means admitting that sometimes I feel like I'm really not cut out for this parenting thing.  I mean, I know we'll all live through it, it just sometimes feels like I'm doing it ALL WRONG.  We talk to her. We work with her to find ways to calm down. Today we talked about how it's not okay to just stomp off and slam your door, but it is TOTALLY okay to say, "I want to be alone right now," and go to your room.  And then later, she freaked out, stomped off, and slammed her door.

My solution today was a little "please calm down" pep-talk and a nap.  I know she needed it; she didn't even fight me when I told her to lie down, and she fell asleep within minutes.

I know it's temporary, kids go through Things, whatever.  It's just scary and hard when it's your kid that you love more than your own life, that you're responsible for.

I guess I just hope this is a Thing she's going through, and I hope I'm not the cause of the Thing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Being Honest

In Sunday school this week, I made a reference to how much I (really, really, really) like to be right.  It's a flaw of mine, something I try to work on.  The lady sitting next to me thanked me for my admission, told me I was brave, being so honest.

I am sometimes brave.  I am usually honest.  But my immediate reaction to her words was to think, "I haven't written a blog post in weeks."

That may seem like a strange reaction in that setting, but it isn't, and here's why: Any time this blog goes silent, I am not being honest.  

I've written here before about how, for me, writing is praying. Some writers say that writing is their therapy, their release.  There is truth in that for me as well.  And usually, when I stop posting, it isn't because I'm too busy, but because I'm hiding.

Like lots of other folks, I like to appear Together.  I'm a mom, and a Christian, and a minister's wife to boot!  I'm supposed to have it together.

But the truth is that I struggle.  I wrestle.  I doubt.  

We struggle financially, and sometimes that worries the hell out of me.  We both feel like what we are doing with our family is important, but our financial struggles would be far more insignificant if I went back to work full time, and so sometimes, I feel responsible for the car repairs we can't have made, the new suit that Greg needs that I can't buy him, the McDonald's lunch that Sophie asks for but I have to answer with a PB&J at home.

I have questions, and also Questions. (Theodicy, anyone?)  Being married to a minister makes Christianity not only a part of my life, but also a part of my vocation.  I am interested in theology and in the health and happenings in the Church, but fast-and-easy answers and systematic theologies don't gel with me.  So, Questions.

I love my kids, and I love being their mom, but I am not a great mom.  I am sometimes patient, gentle and kind.  More often, I am impatient, crabby, and sometimes I yell.  I'm doing my best, but sometimes my best is pretty shitty.

This is me, being honest.