Monthly Archives: July 2008

VBS . . . Y?

I’m here. Back in the high-fan air-conditioned white noise bedroom with a bag of M&M’s for company. The kids aren’t driving me batty this time. I am just worn. out. Tired. Exhausted. Oh me oh my whump exhausted.

Why? You might ask. Why so tuckered?

Three words.

Vacation. Bible. School.

In theory I understand the charm. I do. I really really do. Kids having fun at the church. Church is a fun place to be. Jesus loves you. Here, let me share the love of Jesus with you so you know and feel that Jesus loves you. Reaching un-churched families. Reaching families without a current church home. Involvement in the community. Aiding children in their spiritual growth. . . . and so on. Truly, undeniably, wonderful, worthwhile things.

But whyyyyyy VBS? Why? I see no vacation in it. Though there is a Bible there. Every day. And that’s very, very good. But I would never call what I did this week with 3 and 4 year-olds school. I’ve taught school. And this weren’t it. It was managed chaos. It was screaming. It was lots and lots of animal noises (we did a County Fair theme). Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was fun. Sure. It was fun. For everyone.

But tired. Oh dear. So tired. Me. My kids. All three. And I think that’s been my big whine this week. Our church does VBS in the evenings, from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. My kids are generally in bed, if not asleep, by 7:30 PM. You do the math. This week they went to bed at nearly 10PM four of the nights, and 10:30 on the last night. The bright spot? One morning. One morning they slept until 9:10 AM. Otherwise: 7:30. As usual. Again, you do the math. Tired doesn’t even begin to describe what became of my children this week. Or what became of me, primary caretaker of exhausted children who, as we’ve already established, are given to fits of screaming and beating on a good day. I invite you to imagine . . . just imagine . . . this week.

And that was just my day-job.

Because my evenings were taken over by even more 3 year olds (and some 4’s), screaming, laughing, running, poking, kissing, prodding, pushing, having all manner of good time. The nerve. We’d get home at 9:30, dump everyone into bed, and by ten we were finally child free. For me, the first time since 7 or so that morning. Unless you count the hours between midnight and 7 during which the Ugly Teething Monster ravages my poor innocent baby for whom nothing but some Mommy Milk will console. If you count those hours, it was 22 hours since I had been child free. Did I mention I’m an introvert? I need. some. quiet. time.

Actually, I need a bowl of ice cream and some time snuggled up on the couch with the man of my dreams watching Netflixed re-runs. Ahhhhhh. Heaven. Except I would do that and then it would be midnight and then Ruthie would have her first wake-up just as I was drifting off to sleep and I would start bolt upright to her first cry out and look to find a bed-head-blond with a yellow waffle-weave blankie tucked under her chin rubbing sleepies from her eyes. Oh. You dear. Sweet. Baby.

So, this week’s exhaustion got me reflecting on this creature known as V. B. S. Where did it come from? Who’s bright idea was this? Who thought it was a good idea? I grew up Catholic, and, in those days at least, Catholics didn’t do VBS. Smart. Smart people. Why? I ask my Cradle Presbyterian Husband. Why did someone dream up VBS? Why inflict us with such agony, such pain? What had we done to deserve it? Why do we do it to ourselves?

My conclusion: Protestant Purgatory.

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Filed under Church Life, Family Life, silliness

More background and context on “My new theory”

I wrote the last post at 4AM and forgot some important details in the process of my drawing my conclusion. So here it is:

I wanted to clarify that I don’t necessarily think Mr. Chapman would agree with my assessment. I don’t even know if his book gets into the sibling thing. I was just using his Love Languages terms because they’re what came to my mind yesterday evening.

The part I forgot to mention (probably because I was writing it at 4AM) was the full context for this epiphany. The two children in question started at their latest “love match” immediately following–really before we were really done with–a conversation about loving each other, the past night’s VBS theme:

“So, Isaac, what are some of the ways you can show love to Hannah?” Some good, standard answers. Be nice to her; respect her; share with her; help her.

“So, Hannah, what are some ways you can show love to Isaac?”

“I can squeezimtightwy.”

“What?”

“I can squeezimtightwy.”

“What?” Meanwhile, Hannah is moving off the dining room chair–where we’re having this dinner time conversation–toward Isaac.

Isaac: “She said she can squeeze me tightly . . . ” squeal giggle giggle giggle, as Hannah has arrived at her destination and indeed begun squeezingimtightwy, and they’re off . . . for like the next twenty minutes: squeal, giggle giggle BANG! giggle squeal, shove BANG! scream giggle scream giggle . . .

Hence. My epiphany. Love. It’s all about love, baby.

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I have a new theory . . .

on why Isaac and Hannah beat the stuffing out of one another so much.

It’s their Love Language.

Gary Chapman has a series of books, the first of which is called The Five Love Languages.  That one is about marriage, about learning how each partner speaks and hears love best.  He also has The Five Love Languages of Children, which looks at the same languages as they apply to children, particularly how they function within the parent-child relationship.

Now, I’ll freely admit that the first one was positively transforming for my husband and me.  We discovered it while he was in seminary and I was the department supervisor for the religion section at Giant Monster Bookstore.  It seemed interesting to me and so I bought it.  I bought many many books during those years.  Wow.  It opened up our eyes.  We were speaking completely different Love Languages.  Well, my primary Love Language is his least strong one and vice versa.  This book really opened our “ears” to hearing one another’s love for each other.  Soooo helpful.  So helpful, in fact, that I think my husband has given a copy to every couple whose wedding he has performed since.

So, what are the Love Languages?  Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, Physical Touch.

I haven’t read much of the one for children, but I have evaluated my kids somewhat for their individual love language and try to be aware of it.  My conclusion is Isaac requires Quality Time to really feel plugged in to mom and dad.  And Hannah’s primary mode of giving and receiving love is through Physical Touch.  Snuggly snuggly.

It occurred to me last night that Isaac and Hannah’s combined Love Languages translates into beating the stuffing out of one another.  Isaac gets quality time with Hannah, both of them focused together on a single task, and Hannah gets and gives lots of touch as they push, tickle, shove, tickle, dive on top of one another, tickle, and wrestle together.  There is much screaming, and I have put a great deal of effort into subduing it or trying to end it all together.  Till tonight.  When I realized there was far more laughing than straight-up screaming, and even the screaming (of the Girl, primarily) was immediately followed by the laughing and, I realized, an integral part of the fun.

There they are:  my Boy and my Girl, carving out their own relationship, expressing their deep love for one another, by beating the stuffing out of each other.  Ahhhh.  It does a mommy proud.  *sniff* *sniff*  (and drives her completely batty)

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No sick days for the Mommy . . .

*whine* *whine* *whine*

Maybe I’ll just end it there.

Nahh. I like my whines to be specific. I just feel a summer cold coming on. I think Ruth has it, I think Hannah is getting it. Stuffy head, runny nose, that sort of mild thing. And I had a big fun day yesterday and was up with molar girl again last night and my eyes feel 6 sizes too big for my head and I am tired. Taaaahherd. *whine*

“But the Mommy can’t get sick” is the word on the street. At least the word on my street. But that’s not entirely true. The Mommy can get sick here, just not on Saturday. Because Saturday is the day before Sunday. And. Well. Sunday is . . . Sunday. And that’s that. And *this* Sunday is the start of Vacation Bible School at our church. eek. It will be fun, but every evening Sunday through Thursday, out at the church till 8:30, going for 9 in the *evening*. Three kids up past their bedtime. All. Week. Long. *whine*

Last time I was feeling crummy and blogging, I reflected for a while on the beauty of my children and felt all better afterward. . . .

I’m tired. I know no children. I’ll just keep whining.

Salary.com says my job is worth a $134,121salary. Do they factor in the fact that I have no sick days? Or vacation days? Does that add to the monetary worth?

Whine over. I got it good. I got it really good. I get to be with my kids all the time. And only sometimes do I need to write that ALL. THE. TIME. I have a great family. And my husband does all that he can and sometimes more to make sure I’m taken care of and know I’m appreciated and yes, even that I get a sick day when I need it. Unless it’s Saturday. Or Sunday.

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Filed under being The Mommy, Family Life

Sharing Katy . . .

Ohhh, I just had the most beautiful experience. (Ok, so it’s becoming clear to me that I use far too many superlatives and have many “most beautiful”‘s. Ah well. This was beautiful.)

Isaac knows that my favorite thing to do with my children, and possibly in all of life, is to snuggle up with one or both or all of them and read a book. This has been one of Isaac’s favorite pastimes since he was remarkably small. Hannah is now fully coming into her own on the book reading front. I mentioned in another post that reading a book with someone is becoming her go-to for comfort, but she also just loves to snuggle up and read when she’s sleepy or lonesome or just because it’s a nice thing to do. It’s glorious.

I had a favorite book to read as a child. I would beg and plead with any of my family members to read it. My sister, four years older, caved more than anyone. She recalls reading it endlessly for me. It wasn’t my fault. I just couldn’t read yet. And loved this book.  When my older niece was a baby or young toddler I worked at Giant Monster Bookstore and I came across this book and bought it for her. I’m not so sure she ever thought much of it, and that made me kind of sad.  I was desperate to share it.

Well, when my sister was clearing out old stuff 2 summers ago, she came across it and I took it from her.  Katy No Pocket. There she was.  Beautiful brown kangaroo, asking the nice man for help.  I excitedly shared it with Isaac.  And he liked it enough.  But still.  He just didn’t have the passion for it I had.  And that’s OK.  We have different interests.  I don’t get nearly as excited about The Truck Book as he does.  But still . . . I had this longing to share Katy.  To really share her.

A couple of weeks ago I introduced Hannah to Katy.  I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it sooner.

Revisiting Katy as an adult has been a fun experience.  I always, vividly remembered the name of the book, and could always summon the pictures from my memory.  But I couldn’t really remember the plot.  Then I read it two summers ago, while I was newly pregnant with Ruth.  Katy doesn’t have a pocket like the other mother kangaroos and she’s terribly sad as she doesn’t know how to carry her baby.  How will she carry her baby?  She asks around for suggestions.  Finally, she finds just the right carrier for the job.  It’s a babywearing epic.  Who knew?

It’s been thoroughly amusing to me, as I too over my 6 years as a mom have searched for the right carrier for my baby.  I had a cheapo Baby Bjorn knock-off, which was then replaced with a No-Jo sling, which I learned was not the best choice, so for Hannah I got a Maya Wrap sling, then for Ruthie I made my own wrap and bought a Mei Tei.  In the end, shoulder and neck issues make babywearing a difficult task for me, but I carry my babies everywhere and everyhow I possibly can.  Katy and I go way back and we have a lot in common.  It cracks me up.

So, my Hannah Girlie meets Katy.  My snugly snugly, baby-adorin’ Hannah Girlie meets Katy.  And she falls in love.  Read it again, Mommy.  Read it again.

So today I sat in a comfy flower chair in the corner of my sunny living room, snuggled up with my Hannah, then Ruthie joined us for a moment.  And I had my life flash before me:  me as a little girl with Katy.  Now, me and my two girls.  Sharing Katy.

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God is my Father, part 3

Now that I’ve established that God is my Father and that this fact informs my parenting and my parenting informs my faith, I’ll be feeling free to just toss out little things I’m learning along the way.  But don’t worry, this will be the last part in God is my Father.  I can’t count higher than three.

I recently gained some unexpected insight into God’s love for his children.  I mean, it comes as no surprise, really, that loving my own children has expanded my understanding of God’s love for me.  And for my neighbors.  And even for those people over there in that other town that I don’t like so much.  But a couple of weeks ago, I began reflecting on another aspect of God’s love for us.

So, I have this Boy and this Girl.  (Obviously I have two Girls, but the littler one doesn’t really fit in to this story.)  This Boy and this Girl are 2.5 years apart.  Over the last six months, maybe longer (who could know when you’re dug in over your head in the mommy trenches), they’ve really grown into a lovely habit of trying to beat each other senseless.  Well, maybe that’s a little extreme.  Let’s just say they don’t always treat each other well.  In fact, sometimes they’re downright mean.  Sibling conflict and rivalry is something we struggle with around here.  I watch as one will purposely seek to annoy or hurt the other.  I listen as one daydreams about how great life would be if the other didn’t exist.  I hear caustic, biting words thrown from one to the other.  I’ve heard smacks to the back, arm, leg, wherever, so hard I can hear them across the room.  Or down the steps.  I’ve heard cries of frustration.  Yells.  Screams.  Anger.  Hostility.

I’ve felt all kinds of emotions in the midst of this.  I’m seeking ways to work through, around, over these dynamics, shameful of the ways I may have fostered it, hoping I can help undo damage that’s been done.  It’s really been a struggle.  But what really stopped me dead in my tracks and what I want to share here is this:  watching my children treat each other badly breaks my heart.  It breaks my heart.  Like little, or even nothing, else.

My heart breaks with disappointment over learning just how mean one of my precious, beautiful children can be.  My heart breaks with agonized sadness on behalf of the one who is being hurt.  I’m ripped in two as I long to be on both sides, as both are my beloved.  It tears me up.  And one day, several weeks ago, my eyes were opened and I caught a glimpse, darkly and diminished:  Oh.  My Lord, what do we do to you when we treat your other children badly?  Oh, my Lord, how we must break your heart.  Oh, my Lord, forgive us.  Lord, forgive us.  And empower us, empower me, hold it ever before my eyes:  your pain over my anger, your anguish over my resentment, your sorrow over my spite.  Lord, forgive me.  And give me your eyes and your love for my brother.  Amen and amen.

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God is my Father, part 2

Here’s the thing with God is my Father. It doesn’t really bother me. In the least. I just said all that other stuff to say why it doesn’t bother me and why I don’t think we have any right trying to get rid of the Father language. I think we have so much to learn from the fact that God is our Father. We have much to learn about parenting, knowing that God is our Father. God is our Parent.

Because we know God as our Father, we can learn from Scripture what ideal parenting looks like. We learn from the Master how to parent our own beloved children. Of course we fall short. Way short. Way way wayyyyyy short. But we have a relationship to look to for guidance. We have the Master’s plan for what it means to be a parent.

In addition to that great and wonderful gift, we have the gift of being a parent: a living, breathing, thinking insight into God’s view of his children. There’s two-directional learning here: God as our Father demonstrates for us the epitome of a parent’s love for his child. Our own parenting gives us a teeny tiny, darkly clouded glimpse of what our heavenly Father feels and desires for his children. What a gift. What a profound gift.

So, what do I think of all this? Much and often. These things I know: God loves me and each and every one of his children far, far more than I can ever fathom. His love for us is in his very depths, an integral part of who he is. And his heart aches and longs for our wholeness. For our holy-ness. As his heart breaks over our brokenness. And nothing, no nothing–nothing we nor anyone else can do–can ever separate us from the love of God our Father in Jesus Christ. Our Father is a God of Grace, whose love knows no bounds–even to the point of humiliation–whose patience never ends, whose mercy is everlasting. And I know, oh how I know, I fall far, far short. But by God’s grace, empowered by his Holy Spirit, dependent upon him for my every breath, I seek to be a parent of grace, of love, of patience, of mercy, of humility. To God alone be the glory.

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