FYI: Rant ahead…
Peculiar, I think, the lack of (or my perception of the lack of) social media engagement around our son joining the Royal Canadian Air Force. Both B and I are standing back in amazement, actually, as close family members like and love and even repost the announcement and NOT ONE of our friends or vast community of connections SAYS ANYTHING. OK, is this a touchy subject?
And, if our other son continues in his area of passion and follows his heart and intellect right into the RCMP, and we announce that with love and excitement (and yes fear and trembling) will we be met with like SILENCE?
It’s not that we need approval. It’s not that we need much at all. But if these friends of ours, these hundreds of connections of ours, care just a wee tiny bit about us, about our family, and know anything at all about the vast wilderness of parenting that includes directionless kids, confused kids, depressed kids, kids that are kids and yet adults, kids that move away and come back, kids that love you and reject you as they are becoming themselves, then surely they know what a BIG DEAL it is when your kid finds their thing, aside from all the fear and trembling and wondering at what that thing is, and just FOLLOW THEIR HEART into SOMETHING BEYOND THEMSELVES.
You don’t have to sign a petition, agree to a set of statements, promise anything at all. You aren’t saying yes to war, or rumours of war. Really, you aren’t! You are just being a supportive and loving friend to us. To me.
Surely this matters? Do I hear an amen?
Or, is it like everything else these days, everything is polarized, under tension, fraught with fear of taking a stance or offending the easily offended. So much so that even liking something may give someone the idea that this inherently means you are agreeing with a philosophy or a world view or something gigantic, when all you are really doing is LIKING your friend’s happiness, joy, sense of relief that their kid is becoming something new. Right?
I don’t know, maybe, like always, I’m just looking for the meaning beyond the matter. I’m wondering WHY?
And I just do, I do feel, like the rest of you maybe also feel, a twinge of hurt, when others are silent.
My son has signed up, signed on, agreed to some pretty heavy stuff that falls under that heading of the greater good. He’s heading to boot camp in less than 2 weeks. And I’m just processing all this as a mom (seasoned with a big dose of mama bear!!). I’ll be processing it for at least the next 5 years, maybe more, because with his decision we become “Military Family”. So your support matters to me, perhaps more than it should. I’m hearing the silence speak, perhaps where it isn’t saying anything at all. Yet more edges on me that require some honing!
As my grandfather used to say, it’s a great life if you don’t weaken!
Hairline Cracks in the Porcelain
I come from a long line
of born-again porcelain cleaners.
I am a tidy-bowl expert,
know the brush and flush, polish and rub,
I am a woman, well trained by her Mother.
I tried to put girlhood aside,
leverage being eldest
to escape wrinkled finger tips,
upright vacuum white-noise,
dusters made of outgrown undershirts.
When I failed, I glared out bungalow windows
at my brothers cutting lawn and raking in the benefits
of shared manliness with Dad.
I had no choice. I was taught
to bake and sew and clean proficiently
as an outcome of my femininity
and with all this evidence to the contrary,
one day my Father says to me,
“All things are equal.
You can be ANYTHING you want to be.”
So fast forward to University
and what appears to be a level field, free
from reference to my body’s ability
to bleed, grow breasts or hips or, God forbid,
bear children. Sex lives, no, thrives
in residence rooms fuelled by pub crawls,
still what we do does not define our gender.
I earn my degree, my idealism, my zeal,
I am a self fulfilling prophecy
with EVERYTHING I want. Until…
Fast forward in circumstance, when Providence
unleashes a mind-boggling-paradigm-shifting-revelation
of upside-down proportion,
all my notions of equality expanded
yet reduced to this…moment…
I am pregnant!
I have to choose?
He and I choose together, and my body
blossoms in maternity, my mind
rises like a phoenix
in blazing pride at this innate ability
to create and birth new beings.
Miracles… of possibility
through pain of labour, first one,
then two boys arrive…my joys.
And then…SHE becomes unexpectedly.
SHE is something else entirely.
SHE unearths renewal in me.
FEMALE…we share more than DNA,
SHE is somehow hope and legacy,
SHE is the epitome of another chance
at THIS…AND…in feminine form.
But who am I to say…
I step back and let her find her way,
that dance, step in only when she asks.
Fast forward with my growing girl
my grateful orbit of her world. She says
“I might get married one day” and with a smile
“maybe I won’t have a child…”
Together we unleash our wild “I AM no man.”
I watch her unveil her spirit, truth,
and the beauty of no shame,
strength and intellect, all hers to claim.
She is powerful in her personhood.
(pardon boasting like I did something good)
Now she is gone from me,
like I knew she would be, eventually,
and we both thank Skype technology
for staying close with video chat.
I ask…I breathe one thing for her constantly…
that SHE finds space enough to BE,
to hold everything, all possibility,
glorious, wide and open…
Lesley-Anne Evans 2016
Nothing prepares you
in the beginning when he wails into night’s quiet hours
and maybe it’s not about him needing you that much
more about him being mad
to be pushed from warm nest into cold world.
Still you do what you can, breast to soft mouth, arms wrapped
tight against everything. You let go in small ways
like a bandage being torn slowly from scab over wound
you feel how he forgets to look back
that first time at the playground, how he smiles wider
with his friends. It’s what you do. Nobody tells you exactly how.
You order each memory in a scrapbook, smooth down his life captured
in a thousand framed stories
and wonder how seventeen years can lay out so well on the page
you are ragged edged, coming unglued.
Considering the upcoming High School Graduation of my son, Malcolm James Evans, whom I am especially fond of.
I first wrote this piece in 2006, but it came to my mind this morning as I was facing yet another kitchen full of the aftermath of getting the family up and out the door to school. There were so many things I would rather do than clean up. Yet, as I reflected on the fact that putting my house in order is my ‘job’, well, I just did it. And I stood back and admired the tidy kitchen before I sat down at my computer to work on some other needful things. Better than facing the dirty kitchen later in my morning, when feelings of resentment would probably accompany my tidying efforts.
In any case, here’s what I wrote, which still rings true in my life today.
I had to apologize to my children yesterday after school. I have been home ‘sick’ for the past few days, and after my energy level began to pick up I found myself cleaning and tidying like I haven’t done in some time. And the only reason I can think of for the renewed interest in cleaning, is that I’m actually AT HOME.
My life as a homemaker is usually quite busy, and I don’t enjoy all of the chores that come with my job description. Many of my tasks are outside the home too, and most of those are more enjoyable. So, my days usually include a variety of things, from walking my dog, to helping in the classroom, to grocery shopping, to errands, and even the occasional coffee with friends. I have tried a number of different ways to accomplish my tasks in the home, both scheduled and non-scheduled. The scheduled approach is best for me, so that on Monday I know it’s laundry day. There isn’t any doubt that its laundry day, it just is. I don’t have to justify, rationalize or wonder, It’s just laundry on Monday.
Problem is, on Mondays I’m not always home for the day. And our laundry piles are pretty prolific. So, making it laundry day doesn’t get it done. Only being at home and working through it systematically gets it done.
So, this week, being at home and sick, reminded me that I haven’t been home enough. As my husband kindly reminds me from time to time, it’s all about balance. And when the scales are full of dirty clothes on one side and no clean ones on the other side, then that’s definitely not balance.
When I was home I saw other indications of unbalance in the form of cobwebs, burnt out light bulbs, grubby bathroom taps etc. And I felt badly for two reasons. One, that the job that I’ve been entrusted with isn’t being done to the best of my abilities, and two, that I’m setting a less than excellent example to my kids. How can I, with good conscience, tell them off for not making their beds, when I haven’t made mine.
So, my apology to my kids was for both of these reasons. I want them to know that I blow it some times, and that I’m human. But I also want them to know that our family values include doing our best, keeping our commitments, and meeting our responsibilities, even when it’s not fun stuff. Would I rather be out grocery shopping than scrubbing toilets – absolutely! Does the thought of 10 loads of laundry fill me with joy? Not really, but I do feel joy when the job is complete. Even if the hamper stays empty for only a few hours, I feel a certain sense of accomplishment at a job well done, at having given my best to the task, and at having been true to my commitment to care for my family.
Because I love words and the impact they have on me – they stick – I thought of a little line of words that I could think about when the lure of e-mail is greater than the messy kitchen. It’s simply this, “The discipline of first things first”.
The word discipline might not sit well with you. It’s received a bad rap, I think, as we immediately consider the negative connotations of disciplining our children, or the stern teacher disciplining students. But discipline has another side to it. It’s about choosing to do what you have already committed to. It’s about meeting priorities, even when they are not pleasant. It’s about choosing the important things over the needful things of the moment. It’s about lining up my behaviour with my values.
My spiritual life requires discipline. It’s so much easier to call up a friend for emotional support than to pray to my heavenly father. It’s easier to keep on doing chores and running errands than stop for a quiet time of reading, meditation, and praise. It’s so tempting to sleep in on Sunday morning rather than joining together with God’s people for worship and teaching. You may think that choosing the latter in each case sounds like legalism, but for me anyway, the discipline combined with the desire allows me to make better choices. Better choices for me anyway. You will have to decide what’s ‘first’ in your own life.
Today was a good day. I chose to read my devotional before I started my day’s work. I chose to clean the kitchen before I answered personal e-mails. I chose to finish what I had started, before beginning a new project. Not martyrdom, simply honouring my priorities. Everyone’s will be different. But everyone has them. It’s a matter of sticking to them, and that does take discipline.
Trying to be faithful in the little things,
A word misunderstood, a glance in the wrong direction, downcast eyes, silence. Suddenly what began as a new week, fresh with energy and focus and potential, crumbles. And all before 9 AM.
Doors slam. Voices rise. Eyes fill with tears. Peace is broken.
Why is it so easy to go here, when you desire and strive for the opposite. Why is the family fraught with arguments, disagreements, conflict? This place of refuge and rest, our home, is anything but this morning. After I drive those blessed children of ours to school, I retreat to my corner, my chores, my thoughts, my own set of tears, and pray that God will make a change.
God make a change in me. Is it me, Lord? What is this ever changing role of mother supposed to look like in your eyes?
Am I trying to control too much? Am I not entitled to an opinion? Have I not sacrificed much, loved much, given much, to be allowed to speak into their lives? And it’s not about complicated things… it’s about hair products, the type of music one might learn at guitar lessons, meeting deadlines for applications. It’s about emptying and filling the dishwasher. It’s about being respectful and polite and loving in one’s tone of voice. These are not biggies… to me… but to them, they are the mountains worth fighting for. Why?
They are growing up and away. I understand that, for the most part. They are testing their boundaries. I understand that too. All the years of investing… infant, toddler, little children, pre-teens… all to bring us to this new place called ‘young adulthood’… just as it should be. We have been preparing them to go. That’s easier said than done. Sometimes, in the words of a dear friend, it feels like you are trying to cram everything you can into them while you still have a chance! And at the same time, I’ve grown older, more tired, perhaps even a little worn out?
I need a faith injection, Lord! I need your wisdom, clarity, energy, and a huge outpouring of your love, to allow me to love them lavishly! As they so deserve and require of me.
God knows. God is here in the middle of it with me. I don’t know what I’d do without him here. Sit on the kitchen floor and cry while the dog licks my tears and wonders what’s wrong with mama? (Hey, wait a minute, I just did that!)
Even so, I get up and turn on worship music, I turn my thoughts heavenward and ask again for the strength and resilience of God’s spirit, that will enable me to get off the floor and carry on. Deep breaths. Inhale faith. Exhale despair. Inhale peace. Exhale entitlement. Inhale grace. Inhale more of God’s grace. For me, for them.
Forgive me, Lord for losing my patience with your precious kids. Forgive me for not being a very loving mother this morning. Forgive me for causing them pain, for sending them out feeling sad and misunderstood. Forgive me for not inviting you into the situation then, rather than waiting until now. Please walk with me Lord, because I cannot bear to walk alone.
Keep calm and carry on… yes, I will do just that.
Dear Lord, I do not ask to see the path. In darkness, in anguish and in fear, I will hang on tightly to your hand, and I will close my eyes, so that you know how much trust I place in you, Spouse of my soul.
– Blessed Mary Elizabeth Hesselblad
The “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster was initially produced by the Ministry of Information in 1939 during the beginning of World War II. It was intended to be distributed in order to strengthen morale in the event of a wartime disaster. Two-and-a-half million copies were printed, although the poster was distributed only in limited numbers. The designer of the poster is not known.