Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Missing This

Sitting in church last Sunday, with my son on one side and my husband on the other, my mind was drifting. I thought about the coming week, the things we had planned, bills I needed to pay, etc. It's not that I was bored, I was just thinking. I enjoy attending church and find peace and strength to face a busy week there.

I looked down at Josh and something hit me. My ex-husband is missing this. He's missing sitting by Josh in church each week, watching him grow each day, and listening him. He's missing knowing what bugs Josh and what doesn't. He's missing Josh's smile, his laugh, and his jokes. He's missing the Lego building, scooter riding, and cookie dunking. Sure, he's missing out on the bad stuff like colds, homework, laundry, dentist visits, cleaning, cooking, throw-up on the floor, emergency room visits, and parent-teacher conferences, but the good stuff outweighs the bad by far.

Leaning over to Josh I whispered, "T---- is missing this."

Josh looked puzzled and said, "You mean church?"

"No," I answered. "Not just church. He's missing you. He's missing watching you grow up every day. He's missing this!"

Josh gave me a long look. For 10 he's older than his years in many ways. He knew what I was saying, but until he's a father sitting in church with his kids, he won't know what I meant.

I meant that I wouldn't miss out on raising Josh for the world. I meant that I am grateful for every moment of every day with Josh, even the bad days. He was a miracle. According to my doctor it was impossible for me to get pregnant, but I did. Josh was a gift from God. I've never forgotten that. It's unfortunate that someone else did.

I'm amazed at the parents who don't care, feel resentful, or walk out on their kids. (Trust me, I see it every day at school.) How can these parents miss this? One of the greatest joys in my life is being a mom. I wanted to be a mother since I was a little girl.

So given a chance between missing this and Josh? No question. I'd pick Josh every time.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas All Year

Sick of the Christmas music yet? How about Christmas movies? What about the hours of shopping, wrapping presents, baking goodies, and smiling? I'm not. Is there something wrong with me? I commented to my hubby and son today that I wish Christmas would last another month. My son agreed with me; my husband looked at me like I was nuts.

Sure, I love the music. When I hear Christmas hymns, Nat King Cole or Burl Ives sing Christmas songs it brings back childhood memories of my mom playing Christmas music on the family record player. We'd listen all day while we played, baked, or worked. At the time I took it for granted. Today I would give almost anything to go back for just one day.

I've mentioned in a previous blog that my favorite Christmas movie is "Scrooged." I love that movie and the story of Scrooge, because Dickens gives us hope that people can change for the better. Even the crustiest, grouchiest of us can become a happy, loving person.

But I couldn't figure out why I wanted Christmas to last this year. Sure, the music and movies are fantastic, but still. Then it struck me the other morning why I love Christmas so much. It is a time of hope. People are happier. They smile more and they are (usually) more patient. While waiting in line at the security gates in the airport this week I looked up at the man in front of me (he was very tall) and he was wearing a Santa hat! In my eagerness to get through security to pick up my son I hadn't noticed that there were several people in line with Santa hats on and they were all adults with happy attitudes. They made me smile.

We celebrate Christmas not just for the commercialism of it, but to honor our brother, Jesus Christ. We give gifts in honor of Him, as the wise men from the East gave Him gifts. With His life, He brought hope to humanity. Steve and I reminded our boys on Christmas Eve this year that Christmas isn't about the gifts we receive, it's about the gift of the Savior in our lives. It's His influence, His love, and His sacrifice that we celebrate.

So while you're packing up and heading home or putting away Christmas decor, don't despair! Christmas can remain, at least, in your heart. May you celebrate Christmas not just today, but all year long. Merry Christmas my friends!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hardest Thing You'll Ever Do . . . Move On

My husband and I are on our second marriage and we each have a son from our first marriage. While my divorce was very quick and fairly friendly, his divorce was a circus, think “Jerry Springer style,” and lasted for almost 2 years. My ex lives in another state and sees my son 3-4 times a year. My husband’s ex lives in town and their son splits his time between both of them. Our boys are 10 and 9.

We have been married over 2 years now and as I reflect on our time together as a family, I can’t help but reflect on the kids. My son has adjusted much better to the divorce and remarriage than his son has. This is due, in part, to my son’s personality, but also the fact that his father lives in another state, has moved on with his life, my attitude towards his father and our relationship today. I moved on too. I’m not bitter. I’m not angry that life didn’t turn out the way I planned it.

My husband’s son still struggles with his feelings over their divorce. It’s been 6 years since his mom left his dad and 4 since their divorce, yet he still asks why they can’t get back together. He gets upset nearly every visit with us (two weeks with her, two weeks with us) about their divorce and our remarriage. This is due, in part, to my stepson’s personality, but also his parents’ attitude towards one another and the fact that he goes back and forth between them. There is anger. There is regret. My husband has moved on, but I don’t think his ex has.

There are many divorced and remarried folks in the church and in the world today. Children are the casualties. As one who has not only chosen divorce, but is a witness of the results, I see parents as the biggest influence on their children’s ability to cope with it.

Parents need to be positive about the other parent, even if it hurts. Parents need to move on, let go, and refrain from bitterness. If you are a divorced parent, you’re not hurting your ex if you’re bitter and angry about the situation, you’re hurting yourself (because in order to grow spiritually you need to move on) and you’re sabotaging the future happiness of your kids. It will probably be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, but trust me, for your kids’ sake it’s worth it. Move on.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas This Year

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. This December has been especially sweet. Our boys have been pretty well behaved, we still have jobs, a roof over our heads, can pay our bills, and we’re fairly healthy (a cold here and there, but no matter). This year I feel relief. I feel light and free. I’ve been pondering why I feel this way and I think it ties back into the stress of present buying.

Our boys received their Christmas early this year (as you may recall in a previous blog) and were told that this year they are receiving a small gift or two and their stockings. That’s it. The purchase of quads for our family was our Christmas. (I’m thinking of milking this for a couple of years, if possible.)

So as I’ve picked up small things for them, I haven’t been worrying about the boys. They’re happy with their gifts. I’ve been able to think about other people and actually remember folks I usually forget until the last minute!

I got Jenny’s present purchased and in the mail before I received hers. That’s a new record. (She always beats me to it.) I have already handed out cards and breads to our neighbors, put together a cute snowman filled with treats for Steve’s home teaching family, given my visiting teacher a gift, my visiting teachees their gifts, bought my students candy, my student aide and her mom presents, baked cookies for half of the staff at my school, got Carolyn’s family’s present ready, and bought stuff for Steve. My parents’ and grandma’s presents are even ready. I’m not tired of shopping. I’m not worried about Christmas morning.

Instead, this year I’m calm. So why am I usually a grumbly mess by December 19th? Why am I NOT a grumbly mess this year? I’m prepared, that’s the difference. This year I made a plan for presents and people and it’s working.

The only thing I forgot about was our Christmas card picture. We never took a picture of all 4 of us together this year. (Sigh.) Well, no one’s perfect.