Tuesday, September 25, 2007

You get what you get - and you don't throw a fit.

That's what I tell my son when he cries "unfair" or other such complaints about life and its curve balls. Last week, I realized that it doesn't just apply to him. A little background on my eureka-moment:

I went to book club last week with some girls from church. I hadn't read the book, so I wasn't sure I should go, but it was in my apartment complex, one of my friends was hosting and it was at a girl's house, who always makes the best desserts. All good reasons to get out the the couch, no?
So I went and spent a lot of time listening to everyone discussing the book (Me and Emma) and I learned so much from what was said. I think what really stood out to me, was something, I discussed recently with one of my friends, that she repeated at the book club: Life is also the bad stuff. It's not just the good that happens and if we are unlucky/ unblessed/ unwhatever we get hammered with bad - no, the bad is as much part of our life as the good. the challenge doesn't lie in avoiding the bad stuff. (Except for the things which we can avoid, obviously. I am certainly not advocating seeking out bad stuff. That would just be stupid.)
Anyway - the challenge lies in dealing with what happens to us in a graceful, faithful way. Or in other words - you get what you get and you don't throw a fit. So much easier said than done!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Cultural Differences, Guilt and Vacation

How do those go together, you might ask? Well, In my 10 days away from home I have had some time to think and my observations included the three topics mentioned above.
First off, guilt. I mentioned earlier I would dedicate an entire post to it, but as the days have gone by here, I have felt less guilty for being away, so I won't. Ha! I've decided to try to do my best instead and deal with the fact that I am not perfect. Somehow, that has always been difficult for me - for some reason I feel that if I can't do something just right them I a total failure and shouldn't even try. I have no idea where that's come from, but there it is. Now I am trying to finally overcome it; of course picking the time after I have kids to cope with this particular issue. Go figure - I think even normal people have an added amount of permanent guilt when they have kids - am I doing this right? Making the right choices? Messing up my kids? Looking at huge therapy bills in the future? Lots of questions, not many answers. Except just do your best. So I'm trying. We'll see how that goes.

Now on to cultural differences. It's mainly just a funny little insight into two western cultures that seem similar on the surface but are very different as you delve in deeper. When I told people I was leaving by myself for 10 days, many people in the US got a little quiet, then wondered how that would go for Evan, then wondered if that wasn't a long time to be away from my kids. (I should mention, I have a few friends who were very excited for me. Thanks for making me feel less insane, A and J!) It really got to me as I was about to leave and I was stressing out and even doubting my husband as a caretaker of the kids. Then I got to Denmark and everyone thought it was agreat idea that I got to go and visit my family without the kids. I still missed my kids terribly but I began to feel better about my decision. And then I went to church and met an old friend, who is originally from Colombia. She told me that she recently went home by herself for a couple of weeks and as I tried to convince her that I really did miss my kids, she made a quick list of the blessings of going by yourself - time to visit with family, a long stress-free flight, to need to worry about kids in a new time-zone, etc etc. I felt better instantly. Nobody in Denmark doubted that a father would - or should - be able to take care of his own children for a few weeks. I think, that's when I realized it must be a cultural difference. In DK, the father is as much a parent as the mother, expected to take walks with his kids, change diapers, clean their rooms - basically be a part of their lives. In the US, the expectation seems to be that the mother does all these things and if the father "helps" he is going above and beyond what he is meant to do. I am fascinated by this difference and its implications in my daily life.
I realize that with only one parent working the balance shifts a bit, but I am so blessed to have a husband who wants to be a part of his children's daily lives and who understands how important that is for them. And me - Imagine we get to share this incredible journey of parenthood together. Thanks, E, for being who you are. And thanks for giving me this opportunity not only to visit my family (which has been so amazing!) but also to trust you more as a parent. It has been wonderful to talk to the kids on the phone and hear how happy they are with their dad. And it has been great to let go and still know that things are okay. I guess along with the guilt I could work on being a control freak...Because fact is, that the kids are happy. They are fed, they are dressed (although their clothes may not match...;) and the permanent marker is a decorative addition to our computer screen. Heh. So thanks, for letting me go. I look forward to hugging you all again.

And with that, this has gotten sooooo long that any reader is probably sleeping by now, but I had to get these thoughts out and this is my place to do so. I love my blog!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I'm off to see the wizard...

Sort of, that is. I am actually in Denmark, visiting my family. I got to go for ten days all by my self while Evan watches the boys. At first, I was just excited, then I was all upset about leaving the boys and now that I am here, I am enjoying myself and yet missing my kids and my husband. It seems that I will always be torn this way - always missing someone no matter where I am. In comparison I am lucky of course. Unlike the first emmigrants to America, I actually get to go back and visit and I can have phone and email contact to those I love here. It's still hard, though.
It's so funny, how I feel guilty about feeling bad about something because other people do have it much worse than I. I wonder if that's because a) I really should feel bad and stop whining because I have no right to feel bad or b) because I just feel guilty about everything anyway. Someone I know always addresses my concerns/ complaints with a listing of how lucky I am and how I should focus on that. And that's true - but somehow it still annoys me a bit because does that mean my pain is less real if someone else hurts more? Oy! Someone once told me that your pains are still real to you - even if someone else's are worse and without wallowing in self-pity it's okay to struggle and hurt. I think I'll go with that. And then I'll feel guilty about that too, probably. The guilt-issue deserves it's own entry entirely though, so I'll get back to that.
Meanwhile I am enjoying seeing my family and visiting with a few old friends. I am mainly just hanging out around the house and talking with family and I love it. It's good to see them again!