Let it Snow!

20140221-194303.jpgWhen I was a staff person in Katimavik (katimavik.org) I always used to let my name go onto the schedule for dish duty. My supervisor and colleagues encouraged me to let go of this task to allow participants to take on that responsibility.

I never did. I clung tenaciously to the task.

I wish I could tell you it was about doing my fair share since I too ate the meals that were prepared for us; however, my motivations were not quite so admirable. My motivation was more about me than about any high standards for being a contributing member of the community.

Katimavik was up to that point in my life, the hardest thing that I had ever done. I was living in a house with 11 young adults from all walks of life and I was responsible for ensuring their safety as well as the implementation of the program. It was difficult and it was messy as living in community always is.

So I liked doing dishes because it felt as if it was the only thing that I did that was cut and dry. When I washed, a dish was either clean or dirty, there was no in between. The rules were clear and I knew that my job was over when that last dish was put away.

Every other aspect of the job was murky and grey as I was continually faced with making decisions that affected so many others.

This week, I found myself feeling exactly the same way while shoveling away the foot and a half of snow that had fallen overnight. It struck me then and there that a sense of accomplishment over the task at hand was why I liked shoveling snow so much (shhhh, don’t tell my husband).

Now, as then, I find that being a parent is the most difficult thing that I’ve ever done. I make hundreds of decisions every day and very few of them are obvious choices as to the best way to be in a relationship with these children who definitely know their own minds. I question myself constantly wondering if I’m being unkind or if the ‘no’ I’m speaking is in my child’s best interest.

I don’t know the answer to many of these questions that press me as I go about my day. I don’t know if I’m making the best choice, reacting or making the easiest choice. I just don’t know.

Parenting is messy! Snow shoveling is so much easier knowing whether I’ve done the job well.

So next time you drive by and see me in the driveway, shoveling snow, know that it is giving me a sense of order and accomplishment in the midst of a day filled with decisions that are grey and murky.


Thoughts on Friendships

LandscapeI was putting on my necklace the other morning with my ‘friends forever’ charm and got to thinking about how my view of friendship has changed over the years. I remember purchasing this charm for my closest friend in high school. I didn’t have the confidence to chose the ‘best friend’ charm because I didn’t know if I could presume that she felt the same way as I did.

In retrospect, I’m so glad that I purchased the charm that I did. In the long term it reflects more accurately my views.

You see, I was under the impression as a young child that there was only one kind of friendship that mattered, that of the one between you and your best friend. If you think about it, many novels and many movies glorify the relationship that young girls and women have with their best friends.

I spent many years feeling sorry for myself because I didn’t have that one ‘bosom buddy’ that was with me through thick and thin throughout my entire life. You see, I moved around a lot as both a child and as an adult. My friendships never seemed to have time to become the kind of long-term friendship that I read about in books or saw in movies. I longed desperately to attain that level of relationship where all that mattered in the world was me and my best friend but in trying to reach that unattainable kind of relationship, I felt even more unlovable.

Perhaps I’m an oddity. It seems that way because all around I see people who hang out with their best friend all the time and while I consider myself having many wonderful, deep and lasting friendships, I do not have one best friend with whom I hang out with all the time.

In my many moves around this country, I’ve learned that friendships evolve and change. There are friends that you do things with, friends that you share similar life circumstances with and then there are those friends with whom you bare your soul. Sometimes a friend in a similar circumstance becomes a friend you share deep things with and sometimes they don’t. Either way, those friendships are just what they need to be.

I’ve learned that expecting one friend to be all those things to you is like expecting your spouse to be all things to you. It’s not possible.

Now, I’m thankful for all the friendships I’ve made in their various forms. I’m grateful for my friend who every year makes time to meet me at the cabin for sharing deeply with each other our true selves. I’m thankful for my daughters’ friend’s  mothers with whom I share similar circumstances. I’m pleased too whenever I can get together with that friend I purchased that ‘forever friends’ charm because she’s known me through my many different phases and has stuck by me through it all. I’m deeply touched that I can call the man who calls me his wife, my friend as well.

I spend less time now, labeling my friendships and more time being thankful for what they bring to me. I do not have one best friend but a myriad of different friendships that bring me life.

Here’s to you, all my friends!

Becoming Human

I needed something and so the email that made it into my inbox that day, seemed to speak to me in a way that it might not have at another time. It was an invitation to go away on retreat with other women in ministry. It was an invitation to get away form the demands of ministry and of motherhood to rediscover that connection with the spirit that had given me so much life at one time.

I arrived at the conference after two services, a council meeting, and a 4 1/2 hour trip, exhausted and a little nervous; only to find myself welcomed by a colleague who I knew only from synod wide gatherings. She showed me the ropes and it soon dawned on me that I was the one newcomer, that most if not all of the others in attendance had been meeting regularly.

There was some discomfort but that slowly dissipated as I felt welcomed. I was one of them because we shared a bound in Christ and a call to ministry. I was one of them because I was there, longing for the spirit to move in and among us.

That evening, as we all shared our stories, I found myself caught by what another mother of young children said to us. I do not remember her exact words but the following captures the sense of what she said. She reflected that being a parent wasn’t only about raising kids but about becoming an adult yourself.

I’ve thought about these words a lot as I’ve walked through the journey of leaving my call and entering the world of a stay at home mother. As I contemplate that young women’s words, I find them a comfort and a challenge in the middle of real life, struggling to find the joys of motherhood.

I have always been aware that what might be easier to do as a parent in the short term, may never be in the best interests of my child and have put a lot of pressure on myself to ‘raise them right’.  I’ve always considered parenting to be a sacred trust in that I believe that some day these precious little humans will be adults who will go on to make their way in the world. But I’m beginning to think that perhaps I haven’t been looking at the whole picture.

LandscapeEach of my girls have to find their own way through life. Although I would like to control how it all turns out, I am not the one who can chose their ways through life. Just as my parents couldn’t and probably wouldn’t have made many of the decisions that I have made for myself.

Ultimately the only control I have is over the ways in which I respond to them and my response to them can at times be quite childish which scares me a lot. But still I live in the hope of my faith, that we will journey through this life learning together, growing together, giving love to one another and forgiving each other.

In the midst of journeying alongside these tiny humans that have their hands clenched tightly around my heart, I’m learning more about myself than I’m teaching them anything. They are mirror to show me all the ways that I need to learn and grow in order to become an adult. They are an injection of play in the middle of a serious life. They teach me more than I could ever imagine in this journey of life long learning.

Thank God in Christ for mercy, love and forgiveness to ease our way together through this life.