Saturday, April 30, 2011

But who do You say I am?

Good grief. I started this post back at the end of April, and I'm just now returning to it on June 26th. Wow. How's that for procrastination? Well, if I were to be completely honest with myself, it's not only procrastination. The was a little bit of fear and embarrassment in posting this, a wee bit of reluctance and hiding too. But I what the heck?

Anyway, I guess I should just get right into what's been going on over the last few months, at least since January 15th, which is when I last completed a full post at one sitting. sigh.

In February, my daughter made some pretty unwise choices. This led us to having to dole out a punishment that we thought fit the crime. The deed, in and of itself, isn't something I wish to disclose, but I will say it was sever enough for my husband and I to pull the plug on her going to Germany, amongst other things. And over the fallout of the crime, the consequences just mounted higher and higher.

So after a week of being grounded, in what is now most easily described a whirlwind of events, we asked her to move out of our house. Well, it wasn't as nice as that statement lends itself to be. It was ugly, and heated and angry. And as of February 20th, she no longer lives with us. Looking back, I can see that this was a good thing overall for our family; yes, even for her. The dynamics of having a teenaged girl under our roof were becoming more and more dire. But since she is not living here and I am not apparently *annoying her* anymore, our relationship has been much better. I do miss her terribly, but I speak with her almost every day and see her almost as often as I did when she lived here. She's in a safe place, doing well and getting ready to head off to college.

And as much as I wanted to hold off in having her move away (until she actually did leave for school), the volume of angst that can be pent up in a girls heart got the better of us. The first five or so days that she was gone I was an emotional wreck. The feelings of loss that I was suffering through could only be compared to when I had lost Charlotte. In my right thinking I know that Airenne isn't dead, but I grieved and mourned over the separation of our bond like she was gone forever. I knew that her personality is such that she wouldn't ever come back home to live. To visit, yes. Perhaps even an extended visit, but not to live. This scared me. A line had been drawn.. and we ALL crossed it.

You see, the people in my family don't ever seem to move out and move on very far from the Mothership. We stay close and talk often. But the people on my husband's side of the family move up and move away, with little communication/ties back to the family. At this point, it was a crap shoot as to what our daughter would do. She has so much of my spunk and so much of her dad's adventurous spirit in her, that it wouldn't surprise us one bit if she ended up on the East Coast somewhere and only called once in a while. Because let's face it.. as much as it was us that asked her to leave.. she knew it was coming; she has craved for that freedom for a long time. And besides, she ain't knocking our door down asking to come home anytime soon. We have told her more than once that we miss her. That we are sorry for how things have transpired, and that we would welcome her home.. if she were to observe our house rules.

She has declined. Several times.

Thankfully though, the worst case scenario hasn't happened. What HAS happened is a better, more open and understanding relationship between us. But this transition hasn't been easy. on ME.

There have been so many things that've been stirred in my heart over this process. In some ways, I'm a little peeved that no one ever told me that THIS is the hard part of mothering. That you can spend (in my case) more than half of my life raising this little creature, making sacrifices for her, tending to her when she was sick, trying to create in her a servant's heart, to watch her *choose* to leave. In all seriousness, I felt like she broke up with me. With us. It was horrible. I cried for days. I would see her pictures online, or drive by her friend's house and bawl my eyes out. I know that it is a natural part of growing up. She was bound to want to create her own life sooner or later. And I WANT her to be happy. But it felt like in our little Three Musketeer group (of her, Brian and myself) that she was ditching us. I know she's not. She just becoming her own person. Searching herself out. Making her own way. But it still hurts.

I have always had the position that I am her mother, not her friend. When I was growing up, I had a relationship with my mother that was the opposite. She wanted to be friends. I didn't. I wanted a mother. I didn't want to talk about inappropriate things with my mom. Rather, I didn't want her to talk to me about those things. So I purposed early on that I wouldn't be the person my mother was to me. And it's been tough. There have been times I've had to stick to my guns when really sometimes I just wanted to ignore the things my kid was doing. Or not doing for that matter. Turns out, it is a balancing act. I drew a lot of criticism for not being her *friend* and she at times felt like I couldn't relate to her or didn't connect with me because she felt like I judged her. But now that she is a legal adult, and not living in my house, this new identity of hers is causing me to change too. And I'm working through how to do it.

A little more about me... I distinctly remember when I began maturing into a young adult. When, at about 14-15, I became aware of what the reality of my life was and how it didn't match what I thought it should be. I began to resent my mother as I had it in my head that she wasn't doing her best by me. I was very judgmental of her lifestyle and I really was disrespectful to her. We got in aweful fights, sometimes escalating to physical brawls. Then, after being the *baby* for over 15 years, I now suddenly had a brother. I spent a lot of time with him and loved him so much. Shortly after that, I gave birth to Airenne. Having her at 17 years old was challenging, to say the least. I'm not saying this in a regretful way, but in every sense of the word, I was stifled. I scraped and tugged and scratched out my....OUR... existence all with her on my hip. We had lots of people that were naysayers about our situation, so I was bent on proving them all wrong. Everything I did from that point on was on the basis of what I thought would be the *right* thing to do. I was a pretty good mom, I think. I know I could have done a lot worse than what I did. So I'm not guilting myself over anything. But now looking back, I can see where it was that I took a turn off the path I was headed on. The path of self discovery every young adult is on. The path that Airenne is on now.

I stayed in school because, given the circumstance, it was the right thing to do. I took all the *right* classes because it was bashed into my head that having a degree was the right thing to do. And although I chose my major, I was limited on what I could pursue due to my obligations at home. Because, afterall, I was working my way through school, because it was the right thing to do. . I am thankful that I continued on, and that I've accomplished what I have. But now what? All my adult life I have been Christine... Airenne's mom. But now I have to be Christine. Just Christine. I don't know if I even know who she is.

Now don't get me wrong, I know she is still my daughter, and that she will still need her mommy from time to time (...and not to mention that I have 3 little boys that I'm still a mommy to).. but the time has come for my baby to fly the coop.

So. That begs the question...
"Who do you say I am?"

When Jesus asked His disciples this (in Mark 16:15), I'm sure they were a little perplexed. I mean, really? They were with Him for 3 years. He was a Rabbi, their friend, the man who had all the answers, a carpenter. They knew exactly who He was. Or did they?

Jesus wanted to know what they really thought. Of course *He* knows who He is.. and what His role on earth is, but He was interested in who THEY (and others) had perceived Him to be.

So now, it seems as though I am back on that same path of self discovery that I meandered off of long ago. Only now I have the liberty as an adult to make some choices based on what the *true* Christine wants. My experiences have shaped me, honed me, and even jaded me. But they are mine. So now as I gather them together, and look over each of them, I can decided which ones I want to keep.. and which ones are only weighing me down. I can choose to cultivate the things in which I have found to inspire me, or to let go of the things I'm holding onto for the sake of holding on. I'm revisiting the desires of my heart as a child, while moving forward with the confidence of a grown ass woman, who more than likely has been there and done that.


Noah said...

Thank you for sharing such a difficult experience. I worry about whether I'm preparing my kids for adulthood and if I'll be able to watch them leave, even though I know it's quite early. Having no example, though, (even from my own life), I'm lost about how this should best be done. Seeing your struggle gives me a little insight to what I am preparing for - both for them and for me.

Oprah has featured moms on her show a few times who reached similar revelations about having not lived a life for themselves. These moms were interviewed because their choice was to leave their families and start over as a single woman. The crowd couldn't believe how they abandoned their husbands and kids, but the women were facing crushing personal thoughts about the life they had denied themselves. They had lived only for other people, and suddenly realized they were people, too, and couldn't make themselves consciously give up that identity any more. They were so upset, they were unable to merge the new identity with the old, and had to completely walk away.

I mention those moms for two reasons. First, I don't underestimate the mental anguish thinking about your sacrifices may be causing you. Two, I want to encourage you for the choices you have made, and continue to make.

I do this by pointing to John 15:13 (NRSV)
13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends.

Laying down one's life is often thought of as dying for the other person, but I think it has a much deeper meaning with much more implied sacrifice. Choosing to LIVE your life for someone else, laying down your personal gain for their benefit, is the greatest love one can have. Dying once is permanent and total, but dying to yourself every day requires constantly re-proven commitment.

You've obviously demonstrated a great love to your family, and great love usually brings the greatest pain, especially at times like this. I pray you are able to see your sacrifice in a way that makes you proud of what you gained, so that you can build off of it rather than considering what you have given up. Many people go through life and wish they could have a life as full as yours, but have lived for themselves too long. By the world's view, you may feel behind in life, but in a different paradigm, you are leading the race.

Proverbs 31:28-30 (NRSV)
28 Her children rise up and call her happy; her husband too, and he praises her:
29 "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.

Anonymous said...

I hear you!

I'm pretty sure that we've shut my baby factory down. I morn the loss of unknown babies. It scares the heck out of me that I won't have any more babies, toddlers, and these are my last preschoolers. tear. My whole adult life, and even the end of my childhood, I've been a mom.

And as I unpacked all of my preschooler toys, I cried because what will I do with these next year when my boys have outgrown them. That then turned into lots of self reflection.

What will I do when they are all gone? will I still garden? will i still can? will I still want to cook? or will my life be completely different?