Monday, May 20, 2013

That's a Fail

I think this was an expression of Austin's favorite high school teacher. He was a big UT Austin fan, and when  (my son) Austin said he wanted to go to A&M, that was his reply!

"That's a Fail" as it applies to my life: Struggling with feelings of failure that come and go, as I watch my children veer off in strange directions that I swear I never sent them. Not sure if they have any moral character to speak of, not sure what they will do in their lives. They spend far too much time on video games and computers. They are teenage boys, taking too many risks for my comfort. Austin withdrew from two classes last semester and wasn't even classified a full-time student. (Still pulled out B's in intermediate science classes, could have done better but was more interested in having a full social life)

The only label I have completely embraced in life is that of "mother." Not that I was ever a particularly good one! If I could only have one official title, besides sentient being, I guess it would be that one. That was my most important task in life. In my mind, anyhow. It was my starring role in this drama, my life.

I still try to love my children, first and foremost, no matter what I may think of them at any given moment; to love, before judgment, before discipline, before anything else gets in the way.

This breath prayer has become my favorite these days: "Holy Mary, Mother of God." The mercy, grace and compassion, and the beauty and lyrical quality of these few words, are soothing to me.

I must let go of preconceived notions or pre-judgments of my children. They are growing into and becoming, all the time. We all are growing into ourselves and becoming, and it's easy to forget that and stick people into boxes instead. Particularly children and adolescents do not remain the same.

Odd, how my own identity is so tied up in that of my children. That is why I feel my universe shifting, scattering, shattering. It's not a pleasant sensation. Maybe it would have been better to have more children! Less appalling if one was a dud, could focus on the rest of them.

My "Companions in Christ" group met again after what seemed like a long hiatus (the last time was end of tax season, when I couldn't go anyhow). We discussed vocation, which has always been a cursed word to me, and wound up with a meditation on the burning bush. (The idea being that Moses was introduced to his Godly calling, saving God's people in Egypt, via that encounter.)

What burning bushes had we encountered in our lives, we were asked. I'm still sorting out the answers to that one. Maybe most of us don't ever see any -- this would be due to our own blindness, not to the absence of miracles or the absence of the divine presence!

The burning bushes that sprang to my mind from my life were of a different sort entirely than Moses's. They even surprised me because they seemed completely banal, yet they changed the direction of my life forever. The two I wrote were, first, the birth and raising of my children; and, second, taking care of my father for roughly a year and a half. Of course, other events were also of great significance -- marrying Dwaine -- maybe they did not transform me as completely, and that's why they did not make the list.

These experiences are near-universal, but hardly the stuff of epic Biblical narratives, or at least it seems that way. Also, they don't extend beyond my own personal family to larger human concerns.

Because I first took care of my children, I could care for the children of others. Because I first helped my father, I have so much more understanding of helping someone who is older and living with a chronic illness. Other experiences paved the way to these. My mother-in-law lived with us for a short time when she had terminal cancer.

Once again, in my Companions class I felt inadequate, and that feeling of failure loomed large. To think that my grand "burning bushes" did not even extend outside my immediate family! In our class, we have amazing people who have done great things in their lives and are examples of lives of service. The pastor and his wife. Several teachers, one of whom went off to a wilderness camp with troubled boys and helped them at great personal sacrifice (and was beat up while there). A woman who has been a pillar of the church and has served in every way imaginable there. Then there's me. (Can't even raise my own children right, yadda yadda)

Another depressing item in my life is that I am still processing the death of my father. Tax season was so busy that grief had to wait, it seems. The sadness kind of all swirls together till I can't remember what I am crying about anymore. It comes and goes.

This is what has been on my mind since I've had time to think of these things. If you read all the way, thanks for "listening."

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