Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Simple Woman's Daybook 6/17

Outside my window...

On this partly sunny day, the children are having a picnic lunch on the front lawn...PB&J, peeled and sliced Jonagold apples, iced Country Time Lemonade. I would be sitting here, my heart all a glow as I listen to their funny sibling banter from the playroom window, except...

...Except that I just finished cleaning up a huge mess, over which I really felt like crying. Am I the only one who would cry over fixing four large cups of iced Country Time Lemonade on a tray for a lawn picnic, only to spill it everywhere, all over the floor and cabinets and floor boards, because I tried to open the door with one hand while carrying the tray with the other? And I was so anticipating their smiles, on this hot, humid day! After this disaster, I had just enough lemonade on hand to give each child only half a cup. Yes, I did overfill with ice to hide this fact.

I'm getting over it now, anyhow, even though sugary lemonade ranks up there for disastrous messes, along with chocolate milk. Writing always helps. :)

I am thinking...

...that my children can be loud when they play and I wonder if the neighbors smile at the wonder and magic of childhood when they hear my gang's childish schemes and games and sometimes arguments, or if they roll their adult eyes and wonder when quiet will invade this corner of the neighborhood.

I am also thinking what a jack-of-all-trades a mother is. Our van has been failing to start at times and our mechanic had it over a 3-day period a month ago and started it 40 times successfully, so he couldn't troubleshoot it. With dread over the cost we thought it was a slowly failing fuel pump, because it would turn over but not start, only this would be intermittent, as I said, characteristic of a failing pump. It was oh so inconvenient for the kids and me, as we went to appointments and errands, as you can imagine. I prayed about not getting stuck in a parking garage at the Children's Hospital for hours, but we had to keep running it out of necessity.

Finally, the van issue began to worsen Mary's anxiety; she hasn't wanted to leave the house at all. Thunder isn't all I've been dealing with. Other little things began to bother her too, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder began to look like a real possibility, which runs in my family and which Peter has, but his improved after age 10 when he began his med for OCD. There was no way I was going to put Mary, at age 7, on anything, so I began in earnest last night to study 2003 Ford Windstars via the Internet and try to find the answer to the problem. Ford Windstars have a lot of issues so they get a lot of Internet press.

Mothers do that. They get to the bottom of things, by golly. Whatever the kids truly need, we try to deliver. Not just discipline and kisses and vegetables and books...but everything in our power. I think because there's plenty that isn't in our power, we want to do our best with what is.

So, last night found me learning about the Ford Windstar. I learned typical stuff that will make some of you smile, if you have dads who bothered to teach you a few things. Such as, that to start a car you need a fire, of sorts. Fire requires three things: air, fuel, and spark. I really didn't think it was the fuel pump because our personal mechanic arrived at the pediatrician's office yesterday where we were "stranded" and started the van for me with a trick, and he noticed the fuel pumping through a line as it should. It wasn't a blown fuse either. He was stumped as to what the problem was, but at least he got me out of that fix, while Mary cried in the back seat. It was a hot day.

Now, if something creates an air vacuum in your vehicle's system then the fire necessary to start your engine won't happen. As I read about the things that could create a vacuum, I thought about the gas cap that has been somewhat faulty for a few months, which we've been too preoccupied to replace (we can be dumb that way). Then I searched for whether a loose gas cap could make a car fail to start. Half of the mechanically-inclined people answering said no and half said yes, because it can create a vacuum. Next I read that when your gas tank is empty or nearly empty, it creates more of a vacuum, and BINGO, it dawned on me that the last few times the van has done this the needle was not on empty but near it. I rarely put more than $20 in the van's tank at a time, so there you go.

Of course we are replacing the gas cap tonight and asking our mechanic's opinion about whether this might be the only problem (he's extremely honest and rooting for our family). Hopefully we'll get to the bottom of the issue and Mary will build some trust in her parents, building upon her trust in God...and our mechanic. She trusted the mechanic all along, but not us, when it came to car issues. Smart girl.

The battle against fear is her's, not mine, but she should know that when Mommy takes her for a ride in the van, Mommy, as the adult, will have some control over how long the trip will be.

I am thankful...

~ for the two lovely-spirited little girls here

~ for summer lawn picnics and sprinklers on hot, humid days

~ that Mary is all smiles today

~ summer breezes

~ a nice mechanic who is willing to rescue us (and works for himself)

~ children excited about the garden they planted

~ Peter's and Paul's diligence in learning how to make and plant their own seed potatoes (don't know if this climate will work, but it's an experiment)

~ loving husband

~ Peter growing into such a nice big brother for his siblings

~ Beth making great strides in speech (I see a day coming soon when speech will not be necessary for any of them. We are taking the summer off with the therapist's blessing.)

~ No more physical therapy sessions for Beth for her three arthritic joints. The methotrexate and naproxen are working to keep her functioning very well. The plan is to withdraw the naproxen first, as soon as she goes a whole year without any flares or swelling, which hasn't happened yet, by a long shot. Once that occurs and no problems arise from the absence of naproxen, they will then try pulling the methotrexate. A long process ahead of us, in other words. She has a stubborn case of arthritis.

I am wearing...

...long jean skirt, pink tee, heeled clogs

I am reading...

Lois Lenski's Strawberry Girl, a 1946 Newbery Medal Winner. While this is a fourth- to fifth-grade book, the content is mature, as you will see from the review below. As I choose summer reading novels for the boys, I find it's hard to look at Lexiles and reading levels because if you rule out books that are below grade level, you miss out on some memorable books that children may not have had the maturity to grasp earlier--when they matched their grade. This book is heart-wrenching for me, as an adult, to wade through! That's not to say it isn't good. It's excellent!

Synopsis/Review (Children's Literature): Birdie Boyer is Strawberry Girl in this delightfully classic tale of frontier life in Florida. As newcomers the Boyers' so-called uppity ways clash with the Slaters, their fence-hating, land-squatting, free-cattle-ranging neighbors. Birdie helps her Ma and Pa battle the Florida sun, drought, and sandy soil as they attempt to put in strawberry plants and tend to their orange trees. Problems abound and tempers flare as the Slaters and Boyers meet with trouble; fences are cut, hogs are killed, a mule is poisoned, and a raging fire is set. The Slaters are beset with tribulation due to the drinking, gambling, and irresponsibility of their husband and father. Mrs. Slater and her children find themselves indebted to the Boyers by a life-saving act of neighborly affection, which changes the heart of Mr. Slater. Lenski intersperses historical spice and appeal throughout her story, while illustrating the hardships and trials of life on the frontier in early twentieth century Florida. (orig. 1945), Harper Trophy/HarperCollins Publishers, Ages 10 to 18. 

I'm reading trade books to the girls as well, including Betsy, Tacy and Tib by Maud Lovelace. We're still reading 1 Corinthians in the mornings for devotions. It's not an easy book to explain to children, but we're learning a lot and I'm very appreciative as always for my Life Application Bible.

I am hoping...

...I spoke to my father for Father's Day and learned a little more about his father. He died at 54 years old from cancer due to working in a coal mine all his life. And he drank, which I knew, but I didn't know any details. My father downplayed the drinking, saying his father didn't drink that much, in typical denial fashion. My own father, like me, hates alcohol and doesn't want anything to do with it. My mother had begun to drink before they divorced, when I was 3. When I think about each of my father's many brothers and sisters, I see the consequences of their father's drinking. Many siblings either married someone who drank, drank themselves, or married someone who was dysfunctional--even in the cases where there are second marriages. (My father is on his fifth marriage). It doesn't take daily drinking to make drinking a dysfunctional parental activity. It only takes covering up for the drinker to bring on the dysfunction, or denying that the drinking exists and makes the family different. Everyone takes on a role in the drinking family, and the roles continue as the children all leave home and marry. Tragic.

If only we wouldn't live in denial and shame. If only we wouldn't assume that polite people don't talk about that. If only it didn't have to be a secret, we could learn how to undo the patterns, and it wouldn't insidiously poison each new generation.

I may be breaking my mother's heart in not having any contact with her until she goes to rehab and is no longer in denial, but I must do it. I must say No! to any more of this dysfunction in my life and in the lives of my children, for I can raise them the way I was raised, secondhand, if I don't know where I'm going wrong and where my thinking is faulty. I am only just now realizing the subtle ways that my thinking has been faulty, even though I've never been a drinker, I'm not married to a drinker, and I don't have any friends who drink.

For me it's about the patterns of behavior that were established and my lack of understanding about them, due to denial for so many years (thinking that my mother was a "problem drinker", not an alcoholic). There isn't much difference between the two, in terms of the way the children are raised.

Just this week I had to stop taking the calls of one of my "friends" who I began to recognize as a manipulator. Why couldn't I see it before? I knew she had problems and I was trying to do my best for her while still putting my family first, but why couldn't I see that she was manipulating me, and that I cannot minister to or be a friend to someone who is manipulating me?

I see things differently now that I have put (probably) permanent distance between my mother, step-father and myself. It wasn't obvious right away, but the more I stay strong, the more I see the damage caused by my upbringing. And I see how much the Lord protected me! It could have been far worse. The more layers I peel away, the more new anger I experience. I thought I had forgiven, but there's still more to forgive. I have to keep my heart clear of bitterness so as the layers peel, I need to keep the forgiveness flowing, while still not making contact with them.

It all stems from the sin curse, but beyond that, it comes from this word...denial. Oh, Lord. Help us to live in truth. Search our hearts. Make known to us our iniquities and may we live side by side with you, in truth.

Scripture to Share...

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.


Anonymous said...

I can relate to the sentiments here. You are not alone! I too feel as if my eyes were blinkered for years and years and now I am un-learning all of that warped thinking.
I find I have to be careful what I expose myself to (be it books, TV, people, even the news), including within my family. It was only two months ago that I realised how passive aggressive my sister is (she's not a believer). This came as a real shock. Also a shock is the 'why did I never see that before?!'

Also, you aren't the only one who can get upset over seemingly small things. I can absolutely understand that, bless you! I'm so much better now that I'm on anti-depressants. I know how much it means to you to want to much to make your children's lives better than yours was, and to be a good mother. I find I am afraid of them growing up and making the same mistakes that I did and/or getting hurt like I did or being vulnerable like I was. This I have to regularly give back to God. I *so* want them to be happy, to be content with what is, to work hard, to be thankful for what is - and of course more than anything I want them to belong to God. From your writing I know that's what you want too - and that it comes from the same roots, as it were - a complex but compelling mix of one's past and one's faith.
Anyway... this is your blog post not mine lol! I am very thankful to have found your blog as I don't believe it is a coincidence. Thank you.
Sandy x

Christine said...

It's such a blessing to be understood, Sandy. Thank you for taking the time to comment! Yes, I feel so very strongly that I want the children to have a different, healthy upbringing and by God's grace, I hope it is at least a few steps in that direction. If each generation can make a few steps forward , the curse of the addiction of forefathers and the patterns it involved can be eliminated, by his grace. He is capable of making more than a few steps progress in my life and in my children's lives, but it is sad that I am in my late forties before seeing so much of this. But my children are still young enough to see a difference in my patterns, so praise God for that. I have explained to them why I can't and won't be entertaining my certain friend any further, and the older ones at least seem to understand why her behavior is manipulative.

Anyway, good day to you and yours Sandy! I am seeing pictures of England from another blogger's blog and it is so beautiful! I would love to visit there someday. I have been to Italy as a tween because my step-father was in the military, but I haven't been to England since I was 3.