Conversation With A 3-Year-Old

I had a delightful conversation with a three year old boy the other day.  We were interested in one another’s T-shirts.  My shirt says “puptown funk” and has a cute picture of a dog dressed up like Bruno Mars.  His mom told me the boy kinda wanted to sing Uptown Funk for me.  Then he got shy, at least about singing and dancing, but we started talking about his T-shirt.  It said, in big block letters, “Education is important, but skiing is importanter.”  I took that to mean he loved to ski, so I inquired.  Turns out he loves to ski, especially at Squaw Valley, where his mom has a condo.  We talked about the “magic carpet” that he uses at ski school to get up the hill.  I told him my kids learned to ski before magic carpets were available, instead needing to use the chairlift.  This little boy, Hap, knew all about chairlifts, too.

Then he asked me about my kids.  “Your kids are grown up?”  “Why?”

I said, “I don’t know!!! I tried to keep them little, I really did. But they grew up anyway.”

Why do they grow up?  That’s like asking why do trees grow tall?  Why does the sun rise in the east and set in the west?  Everything, even the natural order of things, is up for question when you are only three.

Mother’s Day was just a few days away, it made me think about the passage of time and the growing up of children.

Did I receive adorable Mother’s Day cards from my three children when they were small?  I certainly did.  Did I appreciate them? Enough?

Children love their mothers.  Then they grow up. Their lives become important and their post-college activities rarely require the involvement of mom.  I wouldn’t want them to jump in my lap now and give me a hand-colored card detailing why they love me… or would I?

The love between mothers and children is often assymetrical.  Either we love them too much or we love them too little.  Likewise, they might love us unconditionally or they might find us old-fashioned and out of touch.

Why did they have to grow up?  Because I needed to grow up as well.  My sense of family has grown since they left home.  I am thankful that each one has meaningful work and supportive friends.  I am more able now to see them for the unique persons they are.

I am grateful that I am a mother to three amazing young adults.  Their lives are their own, but they carry the imprint of our parenting, good or bad.  I loved those golden years when they were small, and I love these golden years as well.  But… why DID they have to grow up?IMG_8202

New Rhythms

For the second straight September, we have no one going back to school.  Our three kids, living on opposite coasts, are successfully building their lives.  One is in school in the evenings to get her Master’s degree, but no one is going to school full time.  None of them have lived at home for the last five years.  This is not an empty nest, it’s a ghost town.  

We are busy with work, consulting, and volunteering.  We travel a  bit and have plenty of friends – many parties. Life is uncluttered, even if the rooms are a bit unkempt.  We call these the second golden years, like before we had any children and life became all about them. We go out when we want; we read and eat whatever and whenever we want.  Life is pretty satisfying with responsibilities and pleasures. 

Yet, we are having some trouble adjusting to the new rhythms of our family life.  Our kids rarely call.  They are busy, they say.  We wonder why they can’t make a simple phone call for a few minutes a week, but maybe they need those very minutes to breathe deeply and just relax.  They are 20-somethings and building a life is a full-time job.  

I am trying to feel pride and satisfaction that they are each surviving and living independently, with jobs and friends and interests.  Really, shouldn’t we be happier?  Perhaps it really is just a matter of new rhythms. When they have time, or need something, they will call.  In the meantime, I can pray and try to send things they might like, savoring their text messages and facebook posts as if they were really directed to me.  

We are thankful they are independent.  We love them.  We launched them.  They’re doing fine.  

Lord, help me remember this and be satisfied.

 

How Important are Your Feelings?

Feelings are important, but they are not the most important thing in the world.

Perhaps this truth becomes more evident as we age. After all, our bodies seem to ache and we tire more easily, but we downplay those problems, take Advil, and move on. We simply decide not to be limited by the feelings in our bones. At least we try.

Emotions are a gift. But when those emotions blind us to more important things, trouble ensues.

Everyone wants to feel loved. When we feel loved, we also feel peace, meaning, self-worth, and even joy. So what’s wrong with seeking that good feeling?

Life gets in the way. We often say this when we are sidetracked from achieving a goal or pursuing a dream. But sometimes life gets in the way of feeling loved, too.

Certain ugly feelings can get in the way of feeling loved. Like jealousy, hurt pride, competition, anger, rebellion. And these feelings tend to grow out of proportion. A casual comment from a co-worker replays in our heads until we sense a lack of respect, and our defenses shoot up. Then we start noticing other comments and place them in the same ever-expanding box of hurt feelings.

We try to hide that box of hurt feelings with anger and self-righteousness, and just get further away from the good emotions of feeling loved. We begin to demand better treatment, so that we can feel better, but often we just end up damaging our relationships, which makes us feel worse, not better.

Way more important than our feelings is the Creator of those feelings, God. If we take our eyes off our feelings and turn them toward God, we have a better chance of clearing out the clutter of hurt feelings.

I should know. I used to let these things fester. There was even a time in my life that I didn’t want to pray. What? I somehow knew, deep down, that God would show me what was wrong if I took time to consult him. So I didn’t. I went along in my foolish pride for weeks, maybe months before I got turned around. Thankfully, God forgave me. My relationship with Him improved and the feeling of being loved forced out the pride and rebellion.

Just realizing that feelings are not the most important thing can help. A devotional I read today says this. “Act on faith, not on feelings. If you act on faith with your emotions, God will help you control all those up and down feelings.”

I need this reminder every day.