Monday, February 23, 2015

My Favorite Child is...

I suspect my children will descend upon me after reading this and smirk about how "Mom can turn anything into a blog post."

I wish they would see how little I have blogged lately because I'm too busy trying to prove to them individually that they are each my favorite. ;-)
And that's a paradoxical statement all it's own.


My oldest child (and perhaps it's the ritual of the oldest child to do so) is quick to boast that he is the favorite.  

"I'm the favorite, right, Mom?" is said more as a statement than a question.
And a part of me feels that the younger siblings feel that he is because they've heard him say it all his life and I honestly don't know how to remedy this. Chances are they ignore his oldest child self-assurance.

 So I'm going to go public here and officially reveal which of my children is my favorite. ;-)
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My Favorite Child – by Erma Bombeck

Every mother has a favorite child.  She cannot help it.  She is only human.  I have mine – the child for whom I feel a special closeness, with whom I share a love that no one else could possibly understand.  My favorite child is the one who was too sick to eat ice cream at his birthday party – who had measles at Christmas – who wore leg braces to bed because he toed in – who had a fever in the middle of the night, the asthma attack, the child in my arms at the emergency ward.

My favorite child spent Christmas alone away from the family, was stranded after the game with a gas tank on E, lost the money for his class ring. 

My favorite child is the one who messed up at the piano recital, misspelled committee in a spelling bee, ran the wrong way with the football, and had his bike stolen because he was careless. 

My favorite child is the one I punished for lying, grounded for insensitivity to other people’s feelings, and informed he was a royal pain to the entire family. 

My favorite child slammed the doors in frustration, cried when she didn’t think I saw her, withdrew and said she could not talk to me. 

My favorite child always needed a haircut, had hair that wouldn’t curl, had no date for Saturday night, and a car that cost $600 to fix.  My favorite child was selfish, immature, bad-tempered, and self-centered.  He was vulnerable, lonely, unsure of what he was doing in the world, and quite wonderful.

All mothers have their favorite child.  It is always the same one: the one who needs you at the moment.  Who needs you for whatever reason – to cling to, to shout at, to hurt, to hug, to flatter, to reverse charges to, to unload on – but mostly just to be there.

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 This poem, until my older children reached their 20's, always rang truth to me. Now I see that there is a risk of at least one child who doesn't need us as much. A BIG part of me feels badly for the child who seems to have done everything right or who, at least, seems to have been born under a lucky star and everything comes easily to them.
Because they demand less of my time and energy and money, do they feel like the least favorite?
Yes, they probably do?
In fact, I know they do.
Yet, in talking to them, their maturity and wisdom at this knowledge, and the fact that they are the first to alleviate my fears, amps my own appreciation of them.  They are far wiser than I ever was at their age. Perhaps that comes with growing up with several siblings and knowing that life is not always fair.

In fact, most of the time, it isn't fair at all.
Favoritism is a false prophet.
Of course, Scripture thought of everything and has a complex tale of two sons which shows us how a parent acts when these things happen and how these things are handled in a kingdom apart from ourselves and, until we are part of that understanding, we alone keep ourselves out of that kingdom.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Time to Build Up Our Families

My daughter-in-laws and I recently signed up for Danielle Bean's Mom-study Momnipotent. My friend Michelle originally sent me the prompt thinking it would be of interest to me. Being a fan of Danielle Bean's, it most definitely was.

By the time I clicked on the email to open it, I noticed I was a couple of days late to the sign-up.

I also feel like a worn-out shoe. My children are growing overnight. My mothering years are waning, yet harrowingly busy and full.

My friend encouraged me, thinking I might have something to share with the newer moms.

That's when the light bulb went off that Danielle (who had influenced my earlier days of motherhood via her blog and books) had so much to share with my two daughter-in-laws, both new wives and new moms.

And Thursday evenings suit us all just fine.

Daddy-duty/Pops-duty/auntie-duty is being coordinated for a very good purpose so that my daughter-in-laws can be re-ignited/re-energized/re-inspired/re-committed to this lifelong commitment they jumped into called motherhood.

Of course my daughter-in-laws had to see the worth in finding time for this study. I was quick to steady their resolve with the commitment of "It's only eight weeks."

And they had to see the value. Eight weeks to give them the tools to build up their new family.

That's definitely worth the time and effort. So incredibly worth it.

My vocation continues as it did when I first took my vocational vows as a build up my family and to serve them.

There is no greater service.

I brought five people into this world. I owe it to my family, to society, to the church, to the kingdom of God to continue to guide and support them.

Now I serve in a far more reaching way...through my daughter-in-laws.

I am not here to dictate to them, to correct them, to lecture to them to find fault with them. I am here to serve them, to support them, to love them, to catch their backs when need be, and to remind them, from time to time, who they married. They married a piece of my heart and they gave birth to many other little pieces. My heart walks around all over the place these days. That's very important to me.

It's a wonderful, exciting time for our family and I'm so thankful for the two loves God brought into our family fold. They are my Ruths and I don't take that ideal lightly. Naomi and Ruth were not only mother-in-law/daughter-in-law; they were friends born in time of struggle and uncertainty but they persevered.

And I don't have to do it alone. Danielle Bean has made sure of that. And my friends putting on this study at a local church are supplying the home and additional wisdom in a hospitable manner of outreach to new moms. I'm grateful.

We're working this kingdom thing together. :-)

And, with our children in mind, it's a far greater thing that we do than we have ever done.

It's certainly a greater thing than the media has sold us.

Which was the discussion I had with one of my daughter-in-laws yesterday. We were talking about the way 21st century wives/moms escape their duties at home. Coffee shops, beauty shops, spas, gyms, nail salons, bars.

And we talked about red flags. Some flags are brighter than others. Those seem to be the ones ignored the most and the ones we gravitate towards the most. How strange.

And my daughter-in-law made an observation about the reddest flag of all...women going out to party at a bar without their husbands...that they often go when they are feeling lonely. Because they are searching for companionship...the fun kind...the alluring type...the kind that tempts you away from your reality.

And does it ever end well? How many times that has destroyed families. Crushingly so.

And I shared with her an article I read about how many Christian women went to see Magic Mike and oogled and awed over this light-porn flick. I have no doubt the movie has some type of message to share, movies usually do, but the Facebook feedback I got was how, even Christian women, were enthralled by all the grinding and gyrating and deceptive lifestyle it promoted. It might have been this article; I'm not sure, but it's a good article to read.

And what does that tell us? What does that lead us to believe? How many women become discontent with their lives and their husbands due to movies such as these and FB stats of other women enjoying themselves in this fashion.

And they go seeking to make it their reality while their husbands are at home. And their babies cry themselves to sleep. Oh, those sweet babies.

Why are so many families being split apart and why is everyone so hell-bent on finding happiness and satisfaction outside the home instead of within it?

I'm not anti letting one's hair down and getting out of the house. It's a necessary thing. It's the manner you do so that speaks volumes. I prefer going out with my husband, going to the movies with my daughters, sitting on the patio enjoying my grandsons, laughing over the things my sons say, being present to my children around the kitchen table, being silent while the rest of the family interacts in the living room, feasting around the crawfish pot and picnic table with extended family, sipping coffee with my parents or with family and friends on Sunday morning at my brother-in-law's, taking walks around the park, catching a free movie night under-the-stars, celebrating birthdays together, vacationing together, carving Halloween pumpkins together, sneaking ice cream stops, touring New Orleans and Natchitoches with my people I love, camping in the woods every Easter and Thanksgiving, or going out to eat with a group of wonderful like-minded mothers who I am blessed to call my friends.

There's no end to the list of activities available to do as a family.

There is no reason for anyone to be lonely in this world, as long as they have family.

These gatherings are not late night bar nights. They are so much more.

These times are usually spent around the home and with family. It's what makes life full and enjoyable. They give life meaning.

Sometimes insanely so...but still...

These type of gatherings...centered on family...built on tradition...lived on what builds family unity.

We live in a state that does this well.

Of course, I understand that you are not me and your tastes may be far different than mine. I'm a homebody, a minority, and I'm not a person who pushes her personality or preferences onto others. But when there are families at stake, well...

This is my life and it took me years to find it and to settle into part because I was so tuned into the entertainment and lifestyle that the media and world told me I should be enamored with.  It wasn't until I rose above it that I saw how shallow and meaningless it was.

And I wanted something more. I wanted something that had meaning and intent and lasting effects, something worth living for, worth dying for. I found that in family life. I want my children to see its worth and its beauty.

To pass this commitment on to another generation of Christians in my family is not something I'm willing to take lightly. I want my daughter-in-laws to want this in their backyards, I want them to enjoy the art of being present at gatherings such as these, to simply enjoy the moment. I want them to do this for their husbands and children, not for me. I want them to do it because God has called them to this, not because I asked them to follow.

I'm grateful they are willing to make the journey with me because the questions we ask ourselves through this vocation are important and will define our very lives.

The question a wife/mother must ask herself is this:

What am I doing to build up my husband? my children? my house?

And that certainly is a walk of faith...if not a leap.

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
~ Matthew 7:24-27

* * * * *

How are you building up your home? Your family?

For me it's mainly by being present and making memories through traditions.

What are your ways? Please indulge me. I'd love to share them with my daughters and daughter-in-loves as they build up their homes. :-)

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