This week, I am preparing for the Nathan's marriage to sweet Rachael, his love of the past 3 years. Ideals are probably at their highest when one gets married. Yet, I think that Rachael already knows we are a flawed family but still our story is worth telling!
How about your family? How perfect do you expect it to be?
And, is anyone tired yet? I am tired but mostly, blissfully so. (Only a few teary, over-whelmed moments--but then isn't that a part of the tension of family life and then trusting the Lord?) This picture was taken a couple of years ago when our family was gathered in California for family day that we celebrate each year together. At that time, Sarah, my 27 year old daughter, was home now for 2 weeks, before she went to Oxford in England. She was filled to the brim with newly espoused ideals and thoughts. Joy, 16, was in Sense and Sensibility for 12 performances in one season, which means late nights and an exhausted body and lots of running around. Joel, 25, was home and Nathan had planned to come for a break to rest at home after working so much. In this context, food is always a constant--with one boy at 6’3 and the other 6’5”, it takes a whole lot of groceries and cooking to fill them up--which also means more dishes.....arrggghhhh!
And in the midst of the weekend, my sweet mama passed away and I got word in a quiet call early one morning. At least we were all together and my sweet ones could share my grief. So, the imperfection, the celebrations, the happy times, the ups and downs, the stresses are a constant rhythm of life in family never cease--but always, family is a history and a story worth living well.
At all times, I feel a little bit like I am riding a wild stallion and holding on for dear life. Joel, my 25 year old, once jokingly said, "You know our family is like one of those loud Jewish intellectual families in Fiddler on the Roof who had an opinion on everything and has to discuss everything from the mundane to the sublime. Or maybe it is a fiery Irish family with abundance of spunk or a rousing, dancing Greek family, or Italians eating feasts chattering and, oh, well, Mom, you get the picture!"
It wears me out just to contemplate it--but I did know what he meant--there is not much quiet or calm about us when we are all together!
This “loud” image also grew not only in my mind from memories gone by. While Nate practiced his drums, Joel was composing piano tunes in our living room on my childhood piano, in the midst of Clay trying to talk to me about his day, Joy’s friends came over and laughed and giggled and ate and made messes. When they left, Nate and Joy were practicing singing to tape tracks--over and over and over and did I say, again, over?. (all while the dog barked intermittently at the fox outside and and growled and wrestled with the boys on the floor.) And Sarah, coming out of her bedroom, said, “Can anyone ever hope to get a nap around here?
I think there is an illusion for most moms, that some day, some future day, when my kids grow up, things will become calmer, easier, less demanding. Perhaps we think having a family where the life of God is real and love is sprinkled all around and great ideas flow and people are always eating or drinking--that somehow it will be calm, in order and quiet--or that somehow the work load will become lighter or that maybe if I ever get my act together, there will be peace and order, and more time to focus on myself.
Somehow I thought that my training would transform my children into something supernatural. But though, all have matured, and I am so blessed that they love us and love the Lord, all are very much the same and have the same personality issues and antics. The mix of all of us together is dramatic--never a dull moment.
My role as a mother has grown with my children, but the responsibilities and time consumed has never lessened.
After all these years, I have realized that my years have always been busy. I am in more demand as a mom than ever, because my children still need my voice and advice and love and time as they enter into a very challenging world.
Yet, now, when my house is full of the life of all of us together, my heart is filled. We are together. This is the family where I belong. We have shared memories, same tastes in movies, books, traditions--years invested --invisible chords that tie our hearts together. We care about one another in ways that no one else in the world cares.
The ride is still an adventure, but somewhere along the way, I learned to hang on and now I am even enjoying the ride.
During the holidays, as I tucked Joy into bed, she commented, "Our family can be overwhelming, Mom! But I am so glad that everyone is here. I would rather have the wildness, the messes, the noise with all of us together and loving each other, than for it to always be calm with no one here to share life! This is really going to be the best Christmas!”
And so my wish to you is, that you will be able to enjoy the ride, the journey, the days--even if it is not picture perfect, today, this year, and remember that the adventure is worth the ride.
And I commend Rachael and Nathan, not to have a perfect family story, but one lived well and worth the telling to generations to come! And so, after a long sleep--tired from returning from the Texas conference, I will get up, plan the final details of the rehearsal dinner, and look forward to this week, when our noisy, imperfect clan will all be together again--and I will invite Rachael into our history to begin her own chapter with my precious Nathan! Onward!