Monday, June 8, 2009

Wise? Perhaps Not

One of the facts of life about being a writer (it feels very presumptuous to call myself that, but there it is, in black & white) is the amount of time that I spend alone, in my own head. I love to spend time this way, but it has a few drawbacks:
1. I think...a lot.
2. I become a bit self-absorbed.
3. I think I am right, perhaps more right than I actually am, because I'm spending so much time in a world populated by people who think as I do (me, myself & I).
4. I think my ideas have more importance than they really do.
5. Writing a blog and receiving kind comments can certainly swell a person's head.

These have the potential to damage perspective, and possibly even relationships, wouldn't you agree? (See, there I go, thinking I'm right.)

When you dear readers write nice things here, it makes my day sweeter. But I also take those kind words with a grain of salt, because you dear people do not have to LIVE with me. My husband and son, my parents and closest friends, those are the people who know all of the darkness and neuroses that lurk deep within this loving heart of mine, right alongside my good qualities. I know we all have dark places within us, but still...

I am not very wise.
I have some crazy ideas, many faults and plenty of obsessive thoughts.
I should not write a parenting book, but you are kind to suggest it.

I thought for years that I was a sub-standard parent, because I did not enjoy breastfeeding, diaper changing, children's games and picking up after little people. I did not join a mom's group; in fact, that was the sort of group that I wanted most to avoid when my kids were little, because I wanted some other kinds of input at that time. I wanted to stretch & use my mind, which was the main thing for which I have received praise during my life. I didn't want to talk about binkies and blankies, and who was teething, etc. I wanted to talk about legal issues, business issues, art, travel, and anything else but babies.

Nowadays, I love babies, and could sit quietly for a long while, just holding and rocking a baby or listening to other moms talk about their kids. Now I know how creative homemaking can be. But back then, I didn't know, and it was difficult. I was restless, and wasn't feeling complete within myself, so I thought that meant that I was lacking in maternal instinct. Now, I know this is not true. I learned from being with Katie and my family through her cancer journey that I am, in fact, a good mother...a much better mother (and woman) than I ever thought I was.

It was the adversity, the suffering, the strain, the pain and heartaches that taught me who I am. It wasn't through pleasure and getting my way; it was through endurance, and even that was not through my own goodness; it was God's loving grace in giving me strength for the moment, each moment. He formed me as the demands grew; he stregthened me, mothered me, walked beside me, gave me who and what I needed to do the job at hand.

Lately, I've been nostalgic for our days in the hospital and Ronald McDonald House. I miss those days only because I miss Katie so much, and that time looks rosy compared to these days without her. Living without Katie hurts. But I realized, this weekend, that I am looking at this with hindsight. During the hospital stays and the weeks in between, we were all suffering greatly, and no one was suffering more than Katie. We were putting her through hell to try to save her life, with the only tools at our disposal. But it was HELL, and I would NEVER wish for her to be back in that bed, with IVs running into her arm, delivering poison into her system. I would never want her to be living again with the anticipation of her own death, watching her body disintegrate from the inside out. NEVER.

Perhaps I should write a book about grief, or cancer, or living with a child who has a terminal illness, or life after your beloved child dies. Those are possibilities, and I would love to do something like that. But I am not any wiser than you are. I have simply lived some experiences that perhaps you haven't...but you have lived some experiences that I haven't, and you undoubtedly have some unique wisdom of your own, that I don't have.

On Saturday, I accidentally drank some tea with caffeine after dinner, and I lay awake after Gregg went to sleep, worrying. I was thinking, I can't believe I'm sending "my baby" to work at a job tomorrow! What was I thinking? He's only 16; he only has one childhood! Why did I feel so strongly about him needing this now? Then I went on to other worries, but each time I did, I tried to give the worry to God. I said to God, "Please help me; I'm yours. I can't do this on my own. Help me to listen. Help me to do what You want me to do. Show me, clearly. Please help me." I kept letting go, and I kept worrying, letting go & worrying. Eventually, I got some sleep.

David went off to learn his new job on the 7:05 a.m. ferry. He arrived in Seattle, walked to the Argosy pier, boarded the Argosy boat and rode over to his job at Blake Island. He worked harder than he has ever worked in his life, raking, sweeping, mopping, washing dishes (by hand and using a commercial dishwasher), helping to refill the dinner buffet, hauling firewood, greeting guests and serving fresh steamed clams to them. He met new people; he loved it! He is proud of himself, and we are proud of him. It's going to be fine.

No, I'm not very wise, but you are kind to say so. Thank you so much for reading and commenting kindly here.


Busy Bee Suz said...

I laughed out loud at several parts of this post my friend. First of all I am always thinking way too much...IN MY HEAD. And really, I know I am right on most things. ;0
I accidentally drink tea too late some days to and pay the price...the racing thoughts....oh how they haunt me.
I disagree with you though...I think YOU ARE WISE. You are wise with the things that you have gone through....right???
I also did not join mommy groups. I was the Mom that really only enjoyed her OWN kids...and still I am quite partial to them. Is that bad? nah.
I think you have a lot to offer to other parents who are going through or have already gone through the horrors of childhood cancer. This is where you are very wise and honest. You can do some good here Karen. Really.

Glad David did well on his first day of work. I suppose he was exhausted!! Working, even as a 'child' gives us some really invaluable life lessons. I think it is good for everyone to do this...he is getting a taste of what real life is after school. And hopefully will drive him through college to get a really good job (perhaps less physically laborious?) If that is a real word...

ok, enough rambling. I am SO not a writer. YOU ARE. I am just a silly girl telling my stories to anyone who will read/listen. ;0
Hugs, Suz

Kay said...

I totally get what you're saying about being with other moms.. although I was one of those that was content to discuss binkies and blankies, I am not one of those that likes to cuddle other people's kids so when everyone else thought it should be 'natural' for me to want to work in the nursery or work VBS, I've never been crazy about either one. I think things like that depend on the person.

I have to stay away from the tea late in the day too. Same reason. : ) But I'm glad you could call out to God. He is the only One that can calm my thoughts when they're crashing within me. :)

I like reading positive comments on my blog too. It's part of the fun. ; )

AnnDeO said...

I was practically escorted out of a mother's group because I didn't agree that Barney was a better role model than the Power Rangers. I think way too much. The blog helps, an outlet for all that "thinking" that my boys don't seem to "get". I find it fascinating that we all can learn and help each other through these difficult, difficult times and find the joy and depth and purpose in our days. You have helped me so much. God Bless.

Elizabeth said...

Accept your wisdom -- and the knowledge that it can be a bit of a burden. A burden that you have to throw off every now and then and be needy.

Jennifer Campbell said...

Oh my wonderful online surrogate mother! How you remind me of life's wonderful lessons everyday. My mom used to say, "The more you know, the more you know you don't know."

There is something freeing about remembering to have solid faith and know that it's not up to us to know everything, solve everything, be everything. It really is in God's hands. Thanks for the very WISE reminder. :)

Jennifer said...

Interesting post ... I wonder if this is one of those both/and things -- where one can be simultaneously wise in some areas and neurotic in others? Or peaceful in some areas and stressed out in others?

Or perhaps we all have slightly different ideas of what "wisdom" entails. From what you write (and of course we only see one slice of your life, whatever you choose to share with us), I have certainly seen what I personally would call wisdom, which is defined as "the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight." To me, that doesn't mean you have no faults or that you exercise wisdom in every choice or are perfect ... just that it seems you possess that ability to discern what is true and right in certain circumstances, whether that's come by trial and error, experience or other means.

Whatever one calls it, I am very grateful and very glad that you share parts of your life, processing and experiences with us. It is a great blessing.

Thank you in particular, in this post, for your words on mothering.


karengberger said...

Jennifer, thank you for the definition; I knew I was missing something when I posted this, and that's it. You're right: it's not either/or; it can be both/and. Classic contemplative thinking! said...

You said it all, sister-blogger! SO TRUE!!!!!

Damn, I love you -- we need another coffee date!