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9/10ths of the Law

One thing that makes me sad is that the kids don’t seem to be able to love both yet – to be connected to their dad and me and their mom at the same time.  Saying “don’t seem to be able” makes it sound like a failure on their part.  It’s not.  It’s just the grief of the circumstance.  They remain in the discomfort of dichotomy – a subtle feeling of having to take sides still clings to them.  If they are connected to and present with their mom, then they are disconnected and actively avoiding us.  I don’t sense them actively avoiding her as much but that may be simple mechanics.  Their dad is always present.  If they need him, he is there.  It sounds biased, but it’s just true.  They break down, they’re out of gas, they need something at school, they want to sign up for an activity – things like that they always call their dad and he always comes through.  Their mom has a greater tendency to disappear, to get busy in her own world.  They want to be with her when she is available to them…

The Confinement of Jesus

Myopia

I am selfish.  I did not know that.  I managed to avoid that fact by living alone for most of my adult life.  Then I joined a family.  It turns out I’m a serious narcissist.  Narcissus, enraptured with his own beauty, died while gazing at his face reflected in still waters.  In truth, I may be more like the pond, looking up at the face of Narcissus and hoping to find herself reflected there, certain that he must be bent over staring at her. My husband predicts I’ll die choking on my own spit – I sometimes forget to swallow properly.  It’s usually because I’m so fixated on what is going on with others around me that I neglect that basic reflex.  I am taken with hypervigilant attention to how others react to me.  I study others in earnest, hoping to discover myself in their word, look, or deed.  I assume that others are as taken with me as me. I always thought I was self-effacing, deferential, and considerate of others.  Rather than feeding prideful vanity, a trait I always treated with g…

The Absence of Motherhood

I probably ought to be careful talking about motherhood.  I’m not one, you know.  Mothers are highly esteemed and much is expected of them.  I’ve no doubt it’s a difficult road.  I would stand up and defend my own mother against some of the stuff I’ve said when whining about how uncomfortable the role of non-mother stepmother can be.  In the midst of critiquing this cultural plight, I encounter Little One once again trying to map out the family tree.  Recalling a gift my dad gave us, she asks, “He’s my grandpa, step-grandpa, right?”  My Handsome Man mumbles a response to the effect that at the grandparent level we don’t usually add that term. She follows up with this little stunner: “I don’t see what’s the difference between moms and stepmoms.”  What?  I’ve been feeling like an outcast, an imposter, an incompetent stand-in and it turns out that’s just parenthood? Motherhood is one of those edifices that we idolize, like marriage, because as a society we desperately need it.  Inhabitants…

Play Your Position

Love-Related

“Well . . .”  “Well,” followed by a long pause is a much more frequent performer in my verbal repertoire now than before I met and married a man with five children. I think it may have first come on stage in response to T-Man, age 12, plopping down beside me on the couch one morning and relating that something strange was happening to his bed sheets. Though he knew he wasn’t wetting the bed, lately there had been small damp areas on his boxers and his sheets when he woke up in the mornings. He thought perhaps something might be leaking through onto his bed from the ceiling.  “Well . . .,” I replied. . . . “Well,” followed by a long pause came up again one summer day when Little One started talking about relatives.  She had just returned from spending a week at her aunt’s for “Camp Melssa” – a summer tradition for the little girl cousins to craft and raft with Aunt Melissa and Uncle Mike.  Little One wanted to ask about how she is connected to my family but she couldn’t think of the right…

Positivity

I wish I were more of who my husband wanted me to be. I know he wishes that I believed I am who he wants me to be. I remember being a happy child. Innately curious and generally hopeful. How is it that some are able to maintain a sunny outlook and others get clouded by life? I’ve discovered that I am a faux vase – believing that I had a certain design to me, but finding that it’s been chipped away over the years and that my real composition is different and blander than I’d always presumed. There’s a general rule that the true nature of a person is revealed in crisis. I’ve never broken my neck or lost everything, but I’m no Joni Eareckson Tada or Job, grateful and worshipping in the most dire of circumstances. The worst I’ve had lately is being let go from a job and a ruptured Achilles tendon – both of which did not reveal much Christ-like resiliency in me.  In fact, I felt rather sorry for myself in each instance and still sometimes do even two years later. There’s another rule – one a…

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