Sunday, February 26, 2012

Waiting on Him.

 "Out there things can happen, and frequently do, to people as brainy and footsy as you.  And when things start to happen. Don't worry. Don't Stew. Just go right along. You'll start happening to."

There are days that I wake up, with words in my head, dreams in my heart.... feeling unexpectedly like "myself."  Full of hope for the day, excitement for what could happen, what I could accomplish.  These are the days that I'm reminded of who I used to be.  In my youth, I thought the World was open to me.  I could chase any dream that I wanted to pursue.

As I've been staying at home raising my three little loves, something has shifted though.  These "dreamer" days come much less frequently.  The hope of accomplishment slowly leaking out of a balloon that may or may not have been too full to begin with.

Sometimes it feels like every dream I have has to be sifted through so many filters that there's hardly anything left at the bottom.  The marriage filter, the children filter, the time filter, the money filter....  I'm left with grounds that aren't very appealing by the time I've thought it through rationally.  And then comes the anger, frustration.... and when I'm angry, it's easy to blame how I'm feeling on my husband, my kids, past mistakes I've made.... and Not turn to God for answers.

I see friends and family without children, even some with children, who have pursued their ambitions, and it can make my life feel so insignificant.  So boring.  So accomplish-less.

"Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best, Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.... Except when you don't, Because, sometimes, you won't.  I'm sorry to say so, but sadly it's true.  Bang-ups, and Hang-ups will happen to you.  You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch.  And your gang will fly on, You'll be left in a Lurch."

Certainly, I don't need anyone to extol the virtues of being a Mom.  I get it.  I chose to stay home to offset loneliness and a deficit I felt growing up without a parent who was consistently, physically, available.  My dream for my children was to give them this perfect home, this wonderful start to life, that would equip them with all of the things they would need to be wonderful, Christian, smart, compassionate people as adults.

But I have to tell you, I didn't expect being a full time Mom to be so.... well.  Boring.  I know it sounds terrible.  I will not be winning any mom of the year awards with this post.  And I do invest a LOT of energy into making it more fun around here.  Dance parties, science experiments, way-too-complicated-why-did-I-do-this-art projects, literacy and math games, trips to the library....  But still. My brain feels latent.


"You'll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you'll be in a slump. And when you're in a Slump, you're not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done."

I've done a lot of God-searching on this. I feel like He has told me (and my husband has told me even more explicitly :-) ) That I should be home, at least for now.  But boy, the attitude adjustment at hearing an answer that I don't want to hear is really tough.

Today, at church, the message was so clear to me.  Like God was speaking directly to my rebellious, frustrated, resentful heart.

God still Loves me.  The same as He loved me a year ago when I was more actively seeking His Will.  He wants me to be filled. He created me with a passion for life for a reason.  but His reason.  Not mine.

And I do believe it will happen.  Maybe just not right when I want it to happen. I have to be able to trust that God hasn't forgotten me, or my heart's desires. That when He chooses to give me the green light to pursue them, it will be for His glory, not Mine.

"So be sure when you step. Step with great care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act." (all quotes from above I owe to the brilliant Dr. Seuss and Oh, the Places You Will Go)

Reading through the bible... this is what my conclusion is to a rather difficult month for me.... His ways are better than Mine.  His Will is Infinitely more Perfect than Mine.  1 Peter 5:6-7  "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all of your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sacrifice

Even before I write this, I know that anyone reading this will realize I'm struggling with decisions, and I know dear friends struggling with even bigger decisions.  But I'm going to write it anyways, and hope that it comes out more clearly than it is currently in my mind.

Sacrifice is a huge part of parenting.  I've written about my thoughts on this before ("Dreams"   "Losing Yourself") but it's something I continually come back to.  How much sacrifice should we make?  

It's easy for me to make this call on the every day decisions.  Sacrificing for one more hug when you really want some personal space.  Sacrificing your 20 minute shower, because your son thinks the death star should be built on the toilet.  Sacrificing your peace of mind because they are begging for just one more game of Simon Says (which actually turns into 20!)  Sacrificing your standard of cleanliness, because they think it will be more fun to paint with their elbows.

But what about the bigger decisions?  Sure, I gave up my love for fancy cars for the really sweet, practical minivan I drive.  That wasn't too painful.  I chose to stay at home, sacrificing my desire for a career, to raise the kids in a way that I think would be best, and allows me to be present for all of the big and little moments at home that I'd hate to miss.

I think most people would agree that sacrifice is necessary to raise emotionally healthy children.  But when do you stop sacrificing?  Or do you not ever stop?  I am not writing this because I have a clear answer coming at the end of this paragraph.  I actually want to know.  When is the sacrifice too great?

Going back to school when your kids still need you at home? Waiting until they are in kindergarten until you start working again, even though they still need you, maybe more than ever, to be fully present in their lives?  I could keep going with even more difficult decisions.... staying in an unhappy or unhealthy marriage for the benefit of the kids?  Staying a single parent, for fear of allowing your attention to divert from your children....Staying in an abusive marriage (and no I am not insinuating that I actually have all of these problems!  just drawing it out down a slippery slope)?


Love is more than a noun -- it is a verb; it is more than a feeling -- it is caring, sharing, helping, sacrificing.
- William Arthur Ward


Friday, February 3, 2012

Art, Learning & Experimenting

The more I teach, the more I am convinced that there is a definitive link between art, science, and learning.

I love the hands on opportunities that art presents.  And although I am not artistically inclined myself, I love losing myself in art.  I love the story art can tell.  I love that for my little preschoolers, art actually DOES tell the story.

Art is a language builder.  It's a fine motor skill to be perfected. It's emotional development, a tool for expressing your emotions.  It's math in one of it's earliest forms: color recognition, color mixing, patterns.... It's science: "Why didn't the waterpaint cover the crayon?"  "I'm going to paint this bear in the arctic because it's a polar bear."

Science is the same way.  Teaching a child to explore concepts for themselves is the single most important thing I can imagine instilling in young minds.

Don't just accept that I've told you red and blue make purple, test it.  Don't believe me that this boat will float.  Maybe it won't.  Try it.  Teaching a child to question things is invaluable.  "Investigating" is a useful skill that translates into more socially responsible citizens, more innovative business thinkers, cutting edge doctors and scientists.

The point is not to fill your children with ABC knowledge, to ensure that they can name all of their colors, or tell you what 1+1 is.  Any four year old can memorize that information.  The point is to teach them to figure out what that MEANS, what the point of it all is, and how to enjoy figuring it all out.... How to explore new things and make it meaningful.  Can they use the letters to build a fun word?  How can they use the colors to paint a picture of their family?  If they want two more cookies, and they already have one, how many will they have?

Today, we set up this experiment in the bathtub:
The white bowl is empty.  The wooden bowl if full of blue cold water.  The dark bowl is full of hot red water.

The question I presented:  What happens when you mix cold and hot water together?
D's response initially:  Maybe the hot water will stay on the edges and the cold water will sit in the middle and then it won't be so hot or so cold. (where did he get this idea from?  I'm not sure?)

Let's see!  "Mom it's turning purple!"

What does the purple water feel like?  Is it hotter or colder than the red water?  Is it hotter or colder than the blue water?

I love to ask questions along the way.  Totally adult-free child play with no questions doesn't always accomplish quite the same thing as when parents & teachers are observing, asking questions, adding elements when their discovery goes deeper/differently than expected :)

"Mom, what happens if we add all of the hot water and the cold water together?"
Well let's see...
"But mom, where did the hot water go?!  There's no hot or cold water anymore, it's like... it's nothing!... Maybe I should climb into the bowl to find it."

Sure... Whatever works to get the point across :-)