This weekend, Andy and I got away. We left the kids with my brother and parents and ran off on a little weekend just for us. Now, I had some aspirations of putting on a couples weekend myself through the church but frankly, these people at Family Life have been doing it for a really long time and they are just good at it. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Several couples from the church went.
I’m not very big on these conferences. After all, Andy and I have been married 10 years. What more could we need to learn about being married? We’ve already made it!
I know. It’s a little arrogant and naive.
I got there expecting to use the experience as time for Andy and I and basically ignore the speakers and play on my phone and just enjoy being away from my needy kids for a while.
It was so much more than that. When you have 3 kids you slowly lose touch with your spouse and it is so subtle. You are parenting, working, living… only sometimes sleeping. So if there is a conversation that needs to happen, often it gets pushed off because there is no conversation that is going to happen that takes longer than 30 seconds. And Family Life knows how to ask the questions that make those conversations happen.
All I’m saying is, there is alot I have to learn about Andy. There is alot he has to learn about me and although we are happy, we need weekends like this to remind us of that.
If you get a chance to do one, take it. It’s worth it.
I feel like everyday conversations tend to lead me toward epiphanies that change my life. I never know when something is going to click. It’s like drinking ice water. You are drinking along and suddenly, that dam of ice breaks and you are covered in cold water! It’s a freezing and humiliating/humbling experience having a life epiphany because there is a realization that you have been wrong the whole time and only now are you going to be right… maybe.
I remember my mother drilling into my head as a young child the phrase, “Treat people the way you want to be treated.” She did everything she could to get this point across but to no avail until one day when we were looking for a birthday present for a friend. “Just buy what you would want. You are both 8 and you both like the same things.” Click. Cold water all over me. I was happy to know what to buy but my eight year old self was embarrassed at how I had treated my friends. At eight, this didn’t click in reference to my siblings but as far as friends go, I got it. I didn’t always apply it but it clicked.
Perhaps even better than that was when I was a part of a conversation that finally drove home the point that God doesn’t have a measuring stick. Although I had always had the head knowledge that God loves everyone equally, I had secretly harbored the belief that if I followed the churches rules, I would be more loved or better loved or just better. Then a pastor was asking me a few pertinent questions and click, freezing water. Yeesh…. That was sobering to say the least.
How about you? Have you had a life epiphany that poured cold water all down the front of you in front of the whole restauraunt?
This morning I was having our six year old wipe down our kitchen counter. While doing so she managed to knock over this vase of Gladiolus blossoms. Normally they would have fallen to the flower, but this time she actually caught the vase and only spilled a little water. Needless to say daddy was impressed by how quickly she reacted.
Yesterday was a new experience for me in the world of fatherhood. I picked up our 6 yo for school, and she asked if one of her school buddies (a boy) could come over to our house. So we get home and all 3 kids are playing nicely together. We decided to head to a park to enjoy some sunshine and fresh air. The boy really likes to play on the skate park, and naturally our 6 yo follows suit. Everything is going smoothly. I had to deal with a sharing issue with our 4 yo. Once that was resolved, all hell breaks loose. The boy wanted to play with a golf ball, which our 4 yo had and they played together. This action of changing playmates, caused the 6 yo to become quite JEALOUS. I look up and she was gone, she was hiding from all of us. I found her and I could see she was upset. The boy kept trying to talk to her, but she was having nothing to do with him. She kept running away from him, and giving him the cold shoulder. If this is any insight into her dating life, i feel sorry for the boys who piss her off. I hope she always knows that daddy will be here to guide her, listen to her, and protect her. Anyway, we get home and watched a movie, by the end of the movie the friendship was restored and all was well.
This morning upon waking the girls up to get them going for the day. The 6yo declares that she doesn’t feel well. I check her forehead and she doesn’t feel warm. So, I keep encouraging her to get out of bed and come down for some breakfast. (In my mind I’m thinking sick day and movies for everyone.) She then stats that she can only breath out of one nostril. I explain to her that its just a cold and that she is not really that sick. I was totally going to let her stay home and just hang out, but she made up her own mind that she wanted to go school.
Daddy is a softy. There I said it. This probably doesn’t bode well for me in the future with 3 beautiful daughters. They can have daddy wrapped around their little fingers. It’s a good thing Wifey and I are a good team and we can strengthen each other in our softy moments.
Our 4 year old has been wanting to take a trip somewhere anywhere. It’s all that she could talk about. “Mommy and Daddy” when can we go on a trip on an airplane together just you and me. Finally I took this past Tuesday and we flew to Denver for a Daddy and daughter date. We went to the Children’s Museum, lunch at Olive Garden, and we took advantage of a free day at the Botanic Gardens. It was such a fun trip, and I hope she will remember these special little trips.
I grew up in this town. We moved here when I was 8 and the majority of my early childhood was spent in what we still call “the big house.” We lived on 5 acres of sage brush. We spent a TON of time outside.
We built houses out of tumble weeds and made little trails through the chico, pretending like we were cars speeding around corners. We had a little puddle out back that was deep enough to float a blow up raft in and we spend hours paddling around in it. Whenever we were angry, we “ran away” across the field to a neighbors house who would give us a cookie and call our mother to let her know where we were.
We road bikes up and down the dirt road, visiting neighbors and speeding past a house where there was a mean dog that chased us every time. We named him Saddam Hussein. Politically incorrect? Maybe. Our dogs name was George Bush (the first one).
The one time I remember our parents really playing with us, not just taking us somewhere or facilitating play, but actually playing with us, was the Family Olympics where the got cards with numbers and kept score and we kids participated in foot races around the yard and jumping contests and ice skating on the puddle. It was amazing.
Once, when my parents had a bunch of friends over and the kids were left to their own devices, we used our kite string to make a giant spider web around the whole living room.
Truth: Childhood doesn’t have to be perfect and your kids don’t need to be entertained by you. Let them enjoy their imaginations. Let them come up with their own stuff. They won’t die or be stunted.
So we are sitting in church and I’m realizing how small it is. I’ve been in bigger churches. You know, a few hundred people and everyone is in their own seats and kids are sitting with their parents (or there is provided childcare) and everyone is disconnected and responsible only for themselves and they listen and they sing and they leave. However, in our church, we know EVERYONE! There is no childcare. Kids are wandering around the church at liberty to sit with whoever they want or wander from pew to pew collecting candy from every kindly old lady. They are visiting quietly with their friends and parents are sending Facebook notes to each other about afternoon activities or night entertainment or lunch plans. A little girl notices the pastor is back from a trip and yells out that she’s glad to see him and is invited up to the platform for a hug and a rendition of a favorite song. This is my idea of a great church life. Let the little children come… Let the adults participate and love each other and interact with each other. Let the visitors be invited to our homes and into our lives a bit for the day.
To keep the chaos down a bit, Andy and I insist on a reason for leaving our pew from the kids. This week, Abby’s reason was, “I need to do something nice.” Now this isn’t alot of information for a mother but what can I say? I decided to leave it alone and allow the pass to the rest of the church. She took a handful of colored pencils to a visiting child so they could color a picture provided by the children’s department earlier. It was a nice thing to do. Only in a small town church does this happen…
Today Abby (6) asked me if she could get a grown up job. She wants to make money so she can buy things that she wants. She also wants to feel important in this world. I get her. However, she’s six. I can’t even get her to clean her own room or do things around the house without alot of prompting. Hmmmm….
The thing is, I remember this. Those things like cleaning my room or helping mother were not on the priority list for me – even if I got paid for helping, it felt fake. I wanted it to be real! I wanted someone to appreciate me for my skill and my contribution and I couldn’t understand that with my parents.
Even now, it’s hard. I work for them. I run their business and I feel every minute like I need to justify the job I’m doing with profit margins or payable reports or whatever. I get my six year old. Now how do I help her?
Here in a small town, I’m sure there are people who would allow me to use them as parenting helpers. I’m thinking about finding a neighbor and asking them to allow me to use them as a front man. She’ll come in and do something and I’ll give you the money to pay her. I mean, I think I could work that out. Is that lying to my kid?