Thursday, August 18, 2011

True Confessions

Well, it's been a year, so I thought I might start writing on my blog again, and what better way than to jump in with some confessions!

I have been looking at all the back to school photos of my friend's kids on Facebook. I even posted my own back to school photos. I have read the status updates of sad moms, missing their kids, not looking forward to sending their kids back to school-moms who cried when their child got on the bus or walked into the school. I have read the posts from the mom whose youngest child is going off to college or doing all those "lasts", whether it's the last child to go to kindergarten, the last child to go to high school.

Most of the sentiments from the mothers are sad, wistful, not ready for this new stage in life. I only read of one friend who is looking forward to this new phase of "empty nest", who is excited to be alone with her husband. I know many of my friends are just mourning the loss of their "baby". There is nothing wrong with that. Life changes, moves us along with the flow whether we go along gladly or are pushed into the next stage.

I confess. I look wistfully at my friends who are already there, the girls who are my age, who are sending their last off to college, or already have the "empty nest". But, I also wonder,"what would I do if I were them?" Would I find meaningful work, or volunteer or take up the hobbies that have long since be discarded due to the busyness of raising kids?

I confess. When that bus pulled up on Monday at 8 a.m., I felt relief and peace. I did not cry or even feel sad. I had to go to the DMV to get a new driver's license (if I hadn't looked so dorky with my round glasses, I would have fought with them to keep my 35 yr. old self on my driver's license) I ran errands, had to go to an interview committee meeting, grocery shop and do laundry. I was very thankful for the time to do these things without Thing 1 and Thing 2 complicating things.

When the kids returned at 4 p.m., I hadn't completed near the things I had on my "to do list". I had to force myself to re-engage with my kids,and not try to accomplish more on my list. I had to pull them towards home and work at settling them down, long enough to have a snack and share one thing about their day-Abby: I made a new friend; he's my new boyfriend. We like, like each other. (NO you do NOT!) Gabe: I lost my lunch box. (What? On the first day of school?)

Abby's behavior went downhill. She bossed her friends around, lost privileges, screamed, threw a tantrum, and much more.

Day 2: They went off to school. I went off to my water class and then relaxed by the pool for 2 hours and reconnected with a friend before I had to get on with my day (give a presentation to the 3rd graders about Abby's diabetes). I did more laundry, enjoyed the peacefulness of my home, started some long over due cleaning of bedrooms and more errands. When the twins got off the bus, I was a little more eager for them to share their day, and because we had discussed what went wrong the previous day, they knew the schedule: come home, wash hands, sit and eat snack, show mom contents of backpack, put lunch box away (Gabe still can't find his) and "tell mom one good thing that happened while you were at school". So, Abby says,"Spanish class"
and Gabe says,"I farted 5 times in class". I am glad I wasn't there, but of course, it wasn't long before he was continuing his "good thing" at home.

I looked at my kids and at that moment, as they were being funny, looking cute in their school clothes (Abby wearing the Valentine's dress I made for her last year that she refused to wear then) and Gabe wearing a striped shirt with plaid shorts, my heart just swelled with love for them. STOP!!! WAIT!!! Yes, I am confessing that I much more readily feel love for my 8 year olds when they look cute and are being funny, or excited about something they learned. I actually think to myself,"I love them so much!" How WRONG is that? How selfish can I be? I love them when they are making me happy? How often do I feel that way? Well, this summer, occasionally, but not that often, because they drove me crazy with their whining, tantrums, their fighting, their disrespectful, sassy selves.

I could be describing me! Don't I do the exact same thing with God? Don't I expect him to forgive and love me no matter how badly I act, and even deny I'm being a brat, or sinful, or try to rationalize my sins, "but Mom, it wasn't my fault". How would I feel if God only loved me when I was being a "good" Christian, or doing something for Him? How often does my behavior mirror my twins behavior? How often do I hear,"I hate you" when they don't get their way, or don't feel heard, or are just plain mad? How often is that what is really being whispered in my heart as I grit my teeth and deal with yet another disobedient child, or a child out of control.

Oh, that I would run to Jesus when I am struggling to love my child. Oh, that Jesus would be my refuge when I just can't handle one more sassy attitude. Oh, that I would realize how real Christ's love is for me, how it isn't dependent on my behavior, my attitude, my performance, my appearance, or my personality. Oh, that I would live out the Gospel-that Christ chose to love me, to redeem me because of His love for me, not my love for Him.

My life is hard. I don't deny that. Following the calling we felt to adopt the twins, to do what we believe God wanted us to do, hasn't been easy. And, not only has it been difficult, it's been horrible part of the time. Abby's tantrums compounded with being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes has thrown us, at debilitated us, saddened us, challenged us, frustrated us, but we will not lose hope. "We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed, perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but now abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that His life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you." I Cor. 4: 7-12

We don't know what the future holds. We can pretty much guarantee, in this life, it's not going to be easy. It's going to get harder. But, for today, I am grateful for a school that is educating my children, so I can get a break, re-group and be reminded that Christ is alive in me and in turn, I can love my children no matter how they look, how they act, how they respond to my love, I love because he first loved me. He is my strength. He gives my life purpose. He calls me His own, and I am His.