Friday, September 30, 2011

Did I Really Just Say That?

Brian Regan, my favorite comedian, does a hilarious bit about the sentences he never imagined he'd have to bring himself to say as a parent.  I find his observations to be true and have also found myself marveling at the sentences I never dreamed I'd hear said by another human being.  The problem with both, I've found, is that one has to keep a straight face while either saying or listening to said lunacy.

For example, here are some of  the things I've had the joy of listening to lately:
"Mom, what would happen if I accidentally ate your boogies?" (and no, I cannot imagine a scenario in which this would have been a legitimate concern for my child)

"Mom, come quick. I found something." (Upon which I enter the bathroom and find my naked child bent in half closely scrutinizing his private parts.) "Look, there's three!" (Attempt at keeping straight face so as to literally not laugh at my child's self-discovery of extra body parts.)

"Why doesn't Henri (our friends' dog) run more? (I explain to child that when animals and people get older they begin to slow down.) "Oh, like daddy?" (Ouch, husband.)

"Mom, where is Megan's baby going to come out of when she's born?" (I explain as gently as possible about the mechanics and anatomy of childbirth) "Mom, that's a really strange place to come out of!"(True thing, buddy.)

And here are some of the ridiculous things I've heard come out of my own mouth, not necessarily in response to the above scenarios, just in general good-time parenting moments.
"If you don't finish your cookie, we can't read a book."
"Please don't climb me." 
"No, we can't go to the store and get a baby." 
"Stop riding the dog!" 
"No, I didn't pee on you when you were born." 

I'm absolutely sure there are hundreds more absurd sentences that I have formed in the name of good parenting. The best thing I can say about all of these moments is that I am very much kept laughing in my home, even when the laughing has to be held in and expressed later so as not to insult my child's very serious scientific inquiries.   Here's to four-year-olds and their natural comedic contributions to family life!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

And Then I Stepped On A Slug

It's been one of those weeks.

Our second baby would've been two this week. I thought it wouldn't be a big deal. It was.

I spent every extra minute of free time planning a yard sale that made a grand total of $14.

We got adoption paperwork back in the mail because we had submitted something incorrectly. Oh, snail mail.

I haven't slept through the night in a week due to thunderstorms, racing minds and a four year old who has suddenly decided that sleeping through the night is for suckers. (I realize that to those of you with newborns this seems ridiculous but when you get past that sleepless stage and into the realm of the living, the nights when you go backwards take on a whole new realm of pain.)

I had to give my son a very specific and anatomically correct sex talk. It's too early. Darn his very particular and insistent questions and all the pregnant women around me that have precipitated them.

And then I stepped on a slug. Tonight, when I got up from the couch to go rooting through the kitchen to find my secret stash of life-saving mint milanos, I stepped on a slug. A slimy, fat, sitting-in-the-middle-of-my-kitchen-floor slug.  Right.

Normally, I like to find the bright side or some deeper lesson in a week like this. Tonight, I am just thankful that tomorrow is Sunday. Thankful for a new day. A new week.  A morning with my church family.  And also, of course, that the slug has been swiftly and summarily squished and disposed of.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Different Kind of Waiting

While pregnant friends and acquaintances update their facebook statuses, sometimes multiple times a day, I wait. I have no baby bump to proudly take pictures of. There are no ultrasounds to post as my profile picture. There's no ecstatic call to the family members to gush over a positive pregnancy test.  I have no daily reminder of a baby due to nausea or sleeplessness or heartburn except for that which is caused by the mountain of paperwork sitting on my desk.

I can't plan for a certain color nursery because I don't know the gender of my child. My son can't reach over and touch my belly when his little sibling kicks.  People in public don't see me and automatically know that I'm expecting a little one. Some family and friends aren't even sure what they think about this addition and some aren't supportive at all.

But somewhere out there, there's a baby. A little person who is loved by the God I know. He may not yet even exist. She may be considered an accident or may have parents who can't care for her even though they want to with all their heart.  There might even be two babies.  

So. I can pick out names. I can get my nursery ready because who needs a gender specific nursery, anyway? I can have pictures taken and put together a book that represents the gifts I've been given in my family, friends, home, work and church so a birthparent out there can see what life a baby might have here. I can talk about the process of adoption with my son and still pray every night for his baby brother and sister. He now adds "from mommy's belly or from adoption" to the end of his plea. I can update people in our lives who are excited about this every time another piece of paperwork goes through or we cut a big check.  I can plan and dream with my husband about what changes a second child will bring to our family dynamic, although it's likely an illusion that I have any idea what it will be like.

I can know in my heart that there's a special child out there, one that is perfect for our family, who will be a child, a friend, a sibling, a torturer of our dog and, if my son has his way, will be skilled at the bass so our band will be complete.  A child who will likely not look like any of us but will be just as much a part of our family as any child I could give birth to. I can wait, sometimes patiently but often impatiently, because this child is as real as any other.   I can resist the desire, by God's grace and help, to feel jealous at all the pregnant people around me because the great (although sometimes elusive) reality is that I'm expecting, too.

It's a different kind of waiting. It's hard and good and oh so rich.  It's waiting on the unexpected and knowing it will change my life.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The World of Jane Green

I don't precisely remember how it happened but I've found myself immersed in Jane Green books this summer. I've read two and am in the middle of the third.  Possibly the attraction is that her main characters are often leading a parallel life to mine: Young to mid-30's, moms, careers.  In the stories, these women are discovering they have at some point in their lives settled for less than what they want or deserve and they experience these epiphanies of longing. Of wanting a better life, a life that reflects who they really are, what they really want, not just what they've fallen lazily into. And suddenly life works out well. Things fall together, happiness ensues.

Clearly I'm writing this with a pinch of sarcasm.  Not because I think the endings are cliche but because I think there is a piece of me who feels the same way. That has trouble with contentment. That wonders "what if" about certain decisions I've made along the way.  I'm betting many women I know would feel the same way, deep down. It's not something we necessarily admit or talk about, but some vague discontent. I've heard some of the questions asked that I do ponder. Is it possible to be in purposeful mission when you're elbow deep in diapers and ABC's?  Can you really "have it all" and not be overwhelmed?  Is it ok to not feel totally fulfilled by motherhood and family life? What are healthy desires?

At the core of these books is the premise, of course, that each of us deserves in life to be happy. That our end goal and the means along the way should be self-satisfaction. Making the decisions that are best for us as individuals, moving on in marriage if you accidentally married the "wrong" guy, getting angry or, to be frank, bitchy to assert that we are not pushovers and can claim control over anything we want.  Over and over again these characters make poor decisions. And over and over again there is this glaring thing missing. The author stops short of identifying that core longing and doesn't choose to make much commentary on the ridiculous nature of these characters' sexual, moral and, to be frank, pretty selfish decisions other than that eventually they'll happen miraculously upon the "right" decisions. But to me, on each page, there is this clear void. This overwhelming need to be fulfilled and while the author rightly helps her protagonists realize that happiness doesn't lie in the number of Manolo Blahnik shoes one owns(I didn't actually know what these were before reading the books, given that my primary shoe store is Payless) they never quite get past finding happiness and contentment in relationships and self-fulfillment.  The longing stays a longing.

I imagine if there were a real-life epilogue to most of these stories, say 10 years down the road, these women would be discontented again because we are not meant to be fulfilled by anything other than God. I related so uncomfortably close to these women in some ways and had to be reminded that my happiness, first of all, is not my goal in life and, secondly, that no matter how much longing I have, the only place that space will be filled is at the foot of the cross.  Not filled by a new baby, not filled by a foray into grad school or a new career or anything I can achieve myself.

I'm convinced that this author has hit what a lot of women struggle with right on the head.  She has done so humorously and with elements of hope. But the success stops there. Without God, everything else is just so uncertain. Even with God, most things are still pretty uncertain. But at least when I'm pointed in that right direction, the uncertainties don't sway me as much. The lack of control isn't quite as terrifying. The "what-ifs" not quite as loud or condemning.  The poor decisions, hopefully, become fewer. The longing may stay, but the joy of it is that it's a longing with a clear fulfillment.

I'm thankful for these books, thankful that they've reminded me of my innate tendency to desire things, to desire fulfillment in my own achievements and to always, always seem to long for more.  I'm thankful that it is clear that nothing earthly can possibly fulfill those longings and that every time I put down one of her books I am drawn back to scripture, drawn back to true hope and the only safe place to truly process those longings.

I am also very thankful that these books make me laugh out loud. Anything that helps me take life less seriously is always a welcome addition to the day.