Plane Coffee Mom

Chatting about Mission Aviation over coffee

Category: Playing Mom (Page 2 of 3)

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Last weekend I went downhill skiing for the first time ever. I’m a wife and mom, and I’m over 40. It was awesome! But, the road to getting there was a little less fun. In fact, it wasn’t much fun at all. And the experience came just as my son was also starting some new things, and I was reminded how easy it is to be logical and reasonable when you’re watching a situation, and how hard logic can be in the middle of the situation.

I went skiing just because i wanted to. It sounded fun. I didn’t have to, and nobody talked me into it. Still, a few friends told me I was going to fall. I heard a couple of horror stories of crying on the slopes. And before I knew it, downhill skiing no longer sounded fun. Although I am normally somewhat confident, I started feeling insecure. I wondered if I could do this. I worried that I would look stupid. I wondered how it would go, I asked people if I had the right equipment and stressed about how I’d get my lift ticket.

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And as I stomped through the door into the unknown, I suddenly realized how common this is for my kids, and probably for yours too. After all, when possible we take our kids to do things that we enjoy, commonly to places we’ve been before, and we often walk them through situations where we are already somewhat comfortable. But for them, it may be all new. Standing beside them, hearing their worries, it all seems rather silly. After all, we have a pretty good idea how it will turn out, what is expected, and what they should do. And from our perspective, most of their fears are unfounded.

Regardless of the logic of it, it’s good to be reminded that beyond logic, we are all human, and change is hard. If you haven’t done something totally new and foreign for a while, try it. If possible, go with someone who knows what they’re doing and thinks it’s all “easy”. And be reminded of the courage your kids show when you take them into similar situation.

I’m going skiing again tomorrow, simply because I can. And it turned out to be fun last time. Besides that, it’s good for me to do this. (BTW, it isn’t that I’ve never done a new thing, it’s just been a while since I chose to do one that was supposed to be “just for fun”!) Try it, you might like it!

My Three Men

Three men. I truly am blessed. My forever hero who I married when I was still a teenager. Drawn by his irresistable mystery, quiet strength, undying purpose, and incredible talents, I knew this was the man I wanted so spend my life with. The man rescues me most every day and still trusts me to fight in the trenches of life by his side.

My oldest son who’s already grown tall, the strength of his spirit clear in the set of his jaw and the hazel of his eyes. His purpose still growing, his life still being explored. The athlete he is that co-exists with the art and writing that cannot be quieted.

My younger son who’s quickly growing up, a man’s strength growing in his character, his joy always overflowing. His passion for moviemaking and riding skills filling his days with learning and doing and being. His purpose taking root. His strength becoming clear.
So many memories made while driving and flying and packing and moving. Cars, buses, jeepneys, tricycles, airplanes, boats, and bicycles housing so many memories. A hundred houses. Pizza for breakfast when we’ve pulled them out of bed too early. Airports. Rental houses. Guest homes. Hotels. Friends’ homes.

Driving across the country, one of us missing. Goodbyes in a thousand places. A million new experiences, the only constant the four of us. New friends and perspective friends. Medical emergencies and political upheavals. Scheduled flights and unscheduled emergencies. Airplanes to fix and boxes to weigh. Cars to pack and bicycles to mount on the carrier. Badminton bags and stinky clothes.

The strength one day. The need the next. The wondering if it can ever be right, and the knowledge that there is no way things can be improved. The assurance of a good outcome and the reality of cost and pain in the process. The desperation in young eyes, the joy I’ve seen in those same eyes. Pure excitement. A million experiences and so few roots. The talking and the quiet, the sharing and swallowing of experiences.

Whatever happens, whatever comes, I’ve shared these times with three great men, one so much bigger than me and the other two catching up to us..

Going Home

Lada, Philippines, October 2005

“School time,” I announced to the boys.

Kevin, age 10, groaned. I was ready to tell him to straighten up his attitude when he looked at me, his eyes red and brimming with unshed tears. I sat down beside him and put a hand on his shoulder, “It will be ok,” I said. I hoped I wasn’t lying. We’d come because we believed this was God’s call, and now we were here, committed to a job a world away from what Kevin was accustomed to, having exchanged a housing complex full of kids for a place beside the airstrip, our only neighbours an older couple and their baby.

Kaleb was just 6, and he knew an opportunity when he saw one. His chatter stopped and he quietly crept down the ladder from the loft above me. I heard the door close behind him, and I knew he’d escaped. Again. I wondered what to do. But this was Kevin’s moment.

He looked at me and began to yell about all he’d left behind and the friends he’d missed. I asked him what they’d be doing now and told him I knew it was hard. I listened and my heart cried, but I was determined to make this work, and I only knew how to do that by keeping a check on my heart and not giving into the emotion that often surrounded me.

We came to provide flight service for a handful of a missionaries on this island. Committed people who were preaching the Gospel. And people with relentless expectations and a string of criticism. We’d inherited a world of disappointment with the flight program and pilots before, and we did our best to simply serve and keep ourselves and those we served oriented to what God was doing. But sometimes it was exhausting. And the added grief of saying goodbye was just that, an added grief.

Eventually Kevin’s tears turned to smiles at good memories. I made him a cup of hot chocolate and me a latte in my new espresso machine, and got him settled into math for the day. Then it was time to find Kaleb.

I expected to find him in a tree, and I did. He loved to climb and just sit in the branches and watch what went on below. He would have been hard to find if not for the constant commentary on his thoughts and what he saw. The chatter was happy right now, and I knew part of it was simply that he had escaped school. I waved to him and told him to come in for school, thankful that he seemed ok. As he grabbed my hand and we headed back inside I wondered what was inside that active mind that questioned beyond his years and expressed his emotion in both chatter and screaming.

Manitoba, Canada, August 2012

The basement was cold and dark, and I huddled on the bed. Ten minutes. I’d give myself ten minutes. I cried as though my heart would break. It was. But in eight minutes I knew that if I didn’t stop now, I’d never stop.

I swallowed and gulped in air. I sat up and began to re-organize the room in my mind, chastising myself for the messiness and the dirty laundry. One minute. I headed to the bathroom and blew my nose and washed my face. I looked in the mirror and demanded compliance of my overwrought body and tired face. I laughed at the red around my eyes and blew my nose again. One more gulp of air, and I was ok. Emotions in check, yearnings locked deep inside.It had been ten minuted flat.

Garry was with his family and the boys were in the room beside ours. I straightened up our room and poked my head inside their door to make sure things were ok. Kevin sat with his headphones on, lost in music or memories or both. I didn’t want to know which just now, because I couldn’t solve either and I didn’t want to force him back into this foreign world. Kaleb was surrounded by a pile of Lego, a happy smile on his face. He was hiding, I knew it, but I couldn’t make him come out and face reality. A few more days of hiding wouldn’t hurt, and maybe in between he’d find something to smile about.

I went upstairs to chat with the lady whose house we’d invaded, a good friend. I had hoped when we arrived that we’d get a chance to really talk, but her life was obviously full also. I knew I had reason for the pain, and yet the pains all tangled into a mess that didn’t seem worth unravelling. Tomorrow we’d bury my mother-in-law. Two days before we’d said goodbye to people who were a family to us. The week before we’d said goodbye to a lot more people who were great friends. A new job in a new country and a million unanswered questions. I was recovering from a serious bout of dengue fever and Garry was still trying to deal with a back that had kept him flat in bed a few weeks before. My mother-in-law’s death had blind-sided us, happening when we least expected it. The family was in deep mourning for that loss, and that grief simply added to the other griefs we’d been trying to walk through.

Washington, USA, August, 2015

I thought it would change, and quickly. But three years later, so much pain still remains, the initial grief of moving replaced by a million small disappointments and a thousand more changes on top of a handful of larger griefs. Changes in our family as we resigned one position and moved across the country to start another, leaving our oldest son a thousand miles away. Moving a teen into a community that apparently doesn’t have space for one more person, where friendships are forged in new ways and expectations are surprising. Big dreams that sometimes feel like nightmares. Depression and anxiety and questions. Peace and purpose and answered prayers. Conflict and opportunities and challenges. Amazing forward motion and a heart that longs to go home.

And my heart hurts with the pain of each of my men. The tears come. The questions long for answers and I beg God for wisdom in how we walk through grief. I believe in friendship and grace and love. I believe in the power of being there, and yet sometimes I wonder if I am missing something. But what am I missing? I cannot see, so I go on, walking a varied road with those I love the most, hanging on to promises that have been true from eternity past and will remain into eternity future.

I suppose it will always be like this, A God who rules the universe and invites us to be part of HIs epic story. Eternity at stake and the temporal always trying to gain our attention and cause us grief. Joy and mourning, peace and conflict co-existing in a spirit that was created to live in another place. After all, we’re not yet Home.

Growing Men

It’s been a long time since I had babies. Both my sons are taller than I am, run faster than I do, eat more than I can, and are smarter than I am in many areas. They are, in fact, young men. One of them in the early stages of becoming a young man, the other moving out of “young” and into simply “man”.

I love them fiercely, yet not always well. I am deeply proud of each of them, but I don’t communicate that clearly. I want to model loving God and living well, but I miss the mark. I want them to be mature and strong and wise. And sometimes in the wanting, I miss the process. What I envision for them is easily turned into pressure to perform. And it grieves me.

In retrospect it is always clear: one year old is young to pull a full-size wagon over gravel road for long, at six your questions may not have the depth I read into them,  at ten you may not understand the reasons why your parents moved, and at fifteen you may not be ready to “pull your weight” around the house. The process is not yet at the point of producing. Kids need you to walk with them, talk with them, teach them, and love them.

IMG_1569Hindsight also proves that the hard things are not all bad: pulling a wagon at one can make you strong, character is developed in the fire, and growth comes of being stretched beyond our comfort zones.
How then, do we help our boys become men? How do we balance the need to grow with the need to enjoy this season? How do we love well and teach well? Where is the balance between the risks involved in growing and the safety they need to thrive?
It’s not all clear, but I do know that every day takes wisdom from above. Each moment is unique and grace teaches me what to do in this moment. I also know that I will never get it all right: that’s called heaven.

My sincerest hope in parenting is that love covers over a multitude of sins: it’s why I wonder if I am simply “playing mom” til the real mom shows up.

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