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Posts Tagged ‘family-centered living’

As the sun set gently over the mountain to the west, I looked out over the tranquil vista. Gathered with my family, my husband relaxing in his chair, my children playing around our campsite, our Labor Day weekend was perfect. There we were, experiencing the togetherness that camping in the great outdoors brings.

 

If only our next-door neighbor’s house wasn’t blocking the view.

 

So we don’t camp. I mean, we never have. Flash is definately a “if it doesn’t have room service and cable it’s not a vacation” kind of  guy. I camped as a kid, but you know, I’ve been happy to go with the flow for 20 years or so. But as scripture says, “See, I’m making all things new.” This is new. We are about to spend a month driving cross-country.  We’ll only have what we can take in our van, and camping is on the agenda. So, trying to be practical, I insisted that we practice.

Our view of Ken's house

The good news is, everything worked. The tent, purchased over 10 years ago on a whim and never out of the box before, was great. The air mattress stayed inflated. Of course, we did run an extension cord from the house, but the new battery powered inflater/charger thingy was working. The camp chairs–complete with umbrellas–were a hit. iPods, iPads and various electronica were all pre-charged. Geek family goes camping. It only took us an hour and a couple of verbal ripostes to get the tent itself set up. Our housemate Vivian, an experienced SCA camper, supervised and managed to not help us too much, even when we couldn’t quite get the tent stakes into the cement-hard earth. Taking pity on our bruised fingers she said, “You don’t really have to stake down the rain fly unless it rains.”

Our new camping stove was great. We got it out of the box, checked out all the necessary kitchen items I had packed carefully in the bin, and then drove to pick up McDonald’s for dinner. Who has energy to cook after all that tent stuff? But on our trip we won’t have excess funds for that much eating out, so some cooking is going to have to occur. I’ll remember to buy fuel before then. It’s on my list.

Backyard camping at it's best.

 

Ahem. Three am and the drumming of the drops woke me up. As the only adult in our family capable of functioning when suddenly awoken, I staggered around in the dark with a flashlight in my teeth and staked the rain fly, only getting somewhat drenched in the process. The good news was that the rain made the ground a lot softer… the stakes slipped right in, when I could see them to hit them.

All in all, it was a good experience. The rooster next door only started crowing about 4am, and I was too exhausted from my rain-soaked excursion to care. The boys were up with the sun, and Flash and I dozed late on our air mattress. Practice makes perfect. With that in mind, we still haven’t taken the tent down. Kinesis and Entropy have slept our there on their own two nights running. Flash and I however, are happily ensconced in our king sized bed with laptops, my 37th level worgen on WoW, and blessed blessed silence.  Our move is in less than a month now.  Maybe they’ll sleep out there every night?

I knew I’d like camping.

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It has not escaped my attention that my recent transition from seeming emotional stability to my new status as a wreck is happening at the age of 40.  It seems almost too classic to be coincidental, right?  Midlife crisis, meet RevMommy.  She’s ripe for the picking.

So I find myself faced with both the opportunity to do something new, go into uncharted water–a good thing.  And a bout of severe depression that often prevents me from doing anything at all beyond rolling over and going back to sleep–this is not so good.  Part of me wants to face the second half of life with enthusiasm and excitement.  I like to think this is the real me.  Another part of me is feeling at sea because for the first time in my life, I’m not defined by my job.  This is my scared part.  Really, really scared.

We live in a culture in which we are defined by what we do for a living.  When you meet someone for the first time, most people ask “What do you do?”  They don’t mean knitting, or collecting comics, they want to know where you work.  Flash has faced this disability for many years as a Stay-At-Home-Dad.  Only in the last few years has SAHD even become a thing, one that you can admit to. (An aside about Flash:   He’s an awesome dad, as shown by the way he spent his afternoon coaxing our terrified and resistant son into having his blood drawn.   Flash not only spent 45 minutes trying to calm a hysterical child with Asperger’s, but even had them draw his own blood just to show it was safe.  He so rocks.)   I love to shake up personal introductions by asking questions like “What is your favorite book?” or “Where did you grow up?”, if not “What is your first memory of being in a kitchen?”  That’s a great one.

In my case, I’ve been in a pastoral role my entire adult life.  I went to seminary right out of college at the age of 21, worked as a youth director, was a missionary, and was ordained and in a church at 25.  I remember one elderly lady in the first church I served asking my age, then replying, “Honey, I’ve got shoes older than you.”  So while I may not have grown up in the church, I have certainly become the woman I am in the church.   Being a pastor never stops.  People I don’t know often want to tell me how horrible religion is, or contrariwise they suddenly stop saying fuck and act as if I’m going to slap them with a ruler.  Or they just close down and move out of the conversation.  On the other hand, there are the folks that jump right in to theology, or the story of their personal crisis, or ask me to pray.  Once the words, “I’m a pastor” are out of my mouth, I become a stand-in for their entire personal relationship with God, however bad or good that has been.  And after a while, I started to see myself that way as well.  Who I was was what I did. 

Tonight I met with an old friend (old, in the sense that now she’s an adult woman in her late 20s and I remember her at age 13 in church youth group) to talk about my exploring the possibility of my becoming a doula.  A doula, if you are not a parent or became a parent before they became popular, is a childbirth attendant.  A woman who professionally supports the woman in labor, as opposed to a midwife whose focus is on the baby.  

We met in a totally cool coffeehouse, so cool that it is definitely not near where I live.  Funky couches, art, nothing matching or blah–we sat on a bright green Victorian style couch.  The customers were all young, hip, and busily working on their laptops.   I want to live there.

Anyhow, my friend is not only a doula, she’s currently expecting her first baby.  I’m a total childbirth geek, I loved being pregnant and being in labor, and using a doula was a big part of that.  I have oodles of experience in hospitals, and it would be nice to be there to celebrate the beginning of life rather than my usual role.  Don’t get all excited, I’m honestly just trying it on for size.   I don’t really know which way God is calling me right now, but it feels odd to even think about taking off my virtual “I’m A Pastor–Tell Me Your Problems” button.  In a way it could be so refreshing.

So the “Rev” part of “RevMommy” has suddenly become nebulous.  However, as Mothers’ Day reminded me, the “Mommy” part is still right on target.  If I define myself by anything, it is being a Mom.  One thing I know I want is to continue to have the family oriented and centered lifestyle that we do.  I want to spend as much time as possible, do as much as possible, with my children before they move up and out.  I’m not satisfied with a couple of hours a day of interaction with my biological offspring.  I want to be part of raising them.  Not a helicopter mom, hovering overhead; not a Tiger mom, demanding perfection: I want to be a cheetah mom, protecting them when they are helpless, teaching them to hunt by my side as they grow, then letting them go knowing I gave them myself 100%.   Hence homeschooling.  Scheduling my work life so that I can do as much as I can during their sleeping hours.  Spending my free time playing board games and going on family field trips and watching family movies.  Living a child-centered life in a culture that really rejects that sort of thinking.  Being a mom is my rock right now.  

Belated happy Mothers’ Day to all you moms out there.   It really is the best part of my life.  And while I’m still trying to decide what I want to do when I grow up, for now I’m happy just being a mom.

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