Monday, June 17, 2013

More than a squeak...

Our dryer is broken.  It's been making an awful sound for several months now.  It began with an occasional squeak and I pretended I didn't hear it. Then it got louder.  It moved from a little whine to a squeal that could be heard downstairs and in the basement...probably even in the garage.
I pretended it wasn't that loud.  I turned up the music and sat on the patio and kept using it.  Now it's getting worse.  The squeaking has stopped and it's starting to damage our clothes.  We're noticing little holes in T-shirts and shorts and things are getting stuck in the rim just inside the dryer door.  It's time for a new dryer.

I have other squeaks in my life too.  I can let relationships drift and slide off my radar.  My house can get messier and more cluttered by the day, no matter how many cleaning ideas I 'pin' to make the tasks easier to tackle.  I can get lazy with my parenting.  What used to be unacceptable slowly creeps in and my passivity is perceived as acceptance.  What I accept in moderation they accept in excess.

Is there hope for change for me at 40-years-old or am I destined to continue my catapult into this 'blind eye' approach to living? 

In Tim Kimmel's book, Grace Based Parenting, he asserts that as parents our job is to act as a lighthouse for our kids to keep shining the light of Christ into their lives to help them avoid hitting the rocks.  Who doesn't love the image of a serene coastline with a stately lighthouse? It makes sense and is nostalgic. 

I can be a light, I am actually pretty good at it.  When the light is shining I can rise to the occasion.  Put me in a crisis and I'll be standing strong and steady.  My problem is not with the light, my issue is with the darkness.  It's in those 45 seconds of darkness when the light is busy shining in the other direction that I lose my way.

I can time it perfectly to take full advantage of the darkness too.  I have an uncanny sense of knowing exactly how to make the shadows work in my favor.  Avoid confrontation?  I'm a pro.  Pretend my shadowy vision in my left eye is really no big deal? Easy.  Circumvent a fight with my son by not insisting he clean his room? Done.  Lift the boundaries on movie viewing and allow a few PG-13 movies to keep the peace with my tween.  You bet.

When will the compromise end?  I even have special phrases to squelch the doubt that may creep into my head.  My favorite is "I have to pick my battles!" whew - that's better - suddenly I can justify anything that feels uncomfortable or hard.

The reality is...I need to suck it up.
Maybe you do to? The critical part of the light in the lighthouse is the magnifying glass.  Without the glass the light would have very little refraction and it would simply be a spinning bulb.  The life saving ability of the light is the power of the light to shine over wide distances coupled with the speed of the bulb to turn. 

When I shrink back in the darkness I have no power.  No power to shine for God.  No power to parent with grace and not fear. No power to care for my health or my house or my relationships.
I must be able to stand firm in the light and be agile enough to spin quickly to illuminate the shadows.

It won't be easy, but recognizing my habits is the first step.  I think I'll start by shopping for a new dryer.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Double take

The car visor is constantly down and the mirror cover is constantly open.  The main level of my house is a maze of mirrors and glass reflections that she must glance at before she can climb the stairs. The camera feature on my phone is a mobile mirror that can collect 30-40 "selfies" on a short car ride to the grocery store.  The temptation to gaze at her reflection is a constant indulgence my tween can't resist!

After rolling my eyes to my mom at Abby's behavior, that I perceived as nauseatingly vain, she made a wise observation (no surprise!). My mom had spent several days with Abby and I and she sensed that I was growing weary of this tween-induced-narcissism that can sometimes propel her like a robot.

After reassuring me that Abby would move beyond this stage, she gave me some great insight.  She suggested that perhaps Abby wasn't holding hostage any self-reflection she could find to merely ogle at herself in the name of vanity.  Her suggestion was that in her rapidly changing world, perhaps she needs to gaze in the mirror to keep track of who she is on a daily (hourly!) basis.  Maybe the hair flip and the duck face lips that she can't help posing for, are her tether to remind her of who she used to be and who she is rapidly becoming.  Life is changing so quickly for her and maybe glancing in the mirror is her way of making sure her outward appearance matches who she feels she is on the inside.  Kind of a tween "self-soothing" mechanism.

As her over-protective mom, maybe an occasional glance in the mirror would serve me well too,  As I age and climb beyond 40, I want to look at my reflection less and less - the wrinkles and the sun damage are staring back at me and I feel frustrated by the changes I see.  Just as Abby gazes longingly at herself to stay on guard for any new shadow or freckle, perhaps I need to catch my own gaze and stare past the brown-eyed reflection into the wisdom I have amassed as a mom.

I need to look beyond the laugh lines and the stray eyebrows and gather my confidence as I ascend 'tween mountain' as Abby's Sherpa.  I refuse to be propelled by fear and anxiety.  The world wants me to believe that life is out of control, busy is better, chaos is normal.  Magazines and media want me to ride the wave of parenting and 'hold on tight' and just try to weather the storm. 

God tells me something different.  He whispers "you are perfectly matched with your children - I entrusted them to you for a reason" - He reminds me that He is with me and He adores my kids even more than their Dad and I do.  He reminds me to reflect His love to them.

So as summer gets underway, I'll pull out the Windex and shine up the mirrors for Abby's reassurance as she checks in daily (hourly!) on her evolving reflection...and I'll shine up my vanity mirror too and try to remember not to stop short of occasionally looking at my reflection too.