Thursday, November 4, 2010

ready, set, change! ... annnnnd....Again!

If you don't like change, get ready to be uncomfortable. Permanently. A lot of it is raising kids. When they are little, as soon as you get used to one routine, they grow out of it. It's sort of like a game of tennis; you lob one to them, they lob one back to you, you have to adjust a bit, lob one back, etc. Well, if childhood is tennis-like, teen and young adulthood is standing at the fast pitch machine while 100 mph balls come rocketing at you at unknown intervals. The older the child, the more monumental the things they hand you on any given day.

For example--the kids come home from school.

Kid #1.( 11 years)-"Mom, I need to have my snack money by tomorrow, and I want to go roller skating and the money has to be in tomorrow". *note-roller skating is in New Jersey, on a weekend, and our weekends are not something we associate with relaxation. I believe I designated a whole post to this subject once. 

 Kid #2. (15 years), "Mom, (puts a sheet down on the desk next to me), I have to get all this drum equipment, we are starting a tympani and concert drum class." On the list are things like tympani mallets, xylophone mallets, method book and such things. I am a little amazed that we are required to run out and drop $100+ on command. But my son is a budding percussionist and of course we will comply. Maybe a little slower than some.

Then we get to the girls entering college this fall. Kid#3 (17 years)- "Mom, I need senior dues, my senior hoodie money and when can we go visit the colleges I am applying to? (anywhere from PA to RI ). Don't forget SAT's, Saturday classes, and the Prom."

Next, Kid#4 (19 years) -"I think I will be happier if I move out and am on my own". (this one also applying to colleges and wanting to do pre med). Anybody else out there ever work their way through school? ouch. 

Kid#5 (20 years) -actually just did move out. Working three jobs. 

All this is given to you without all the intricacies of daily life and without some of the larger challenges posed to each of them and us. The bare bones alone are overwhelming.

Not only do they constantly change, but I have to also. I have to adapt to the many new situations, people and goals they lay before me. Most of the time, embracing their  goals is easy. Sometimes, I can get on board partially, and help when possible. Other times, impossible. Those times are hard. Changing the way I relate to them as young adults is not so cut and dry as you might think. You know, the whole, "well when you turn 18, it will be like so and when you turn 21, like so", no. Every kid is completely different.

I would say that I have learned a lot, and in so doing, have learned that I don't actually know much.

Here are a few things I can say I know.

1. Expect surprises.

If I am too locked into doing things in a rigidly scheduled way (ha HA) I will constantly feel frustrated and even angry when the curve balls come. Sometimes the surprises are good even astoundingly so, and if I am open, I will appreciate these times more.  

2.Nothing (hardly ever anyway) is as bad as it first seems.

The initial shock of getting big news, ( an unexpected illness, a car breaking down,  a kid announcing a surprise decision, or even a positive, "so and so wants you to sing/play at their event, this weekend!" ) can knock the wind out of us. But if we stop a second and kind of take apart the nuts and bolts, and think calmly, most times we can see that we will get through it, and be okay. I have experienced God's grace at times like these, to the degree where I can almost taste it.

3.There will be nice things along the way.
 Even when we have to go through hard situations, God always provides some comforts to help us. A good friend to talk to, meeting new people: in the case of my brother in law's very very sad funeral, we got to see family and my husband and I stayed in a hotel room alone together for the first time since.....uh....our honeymoon weekend! (that's another story all by itself).

4.God will be a constant that we can rely on, and provide that bedrock Who is unchangeable no matter what.

When we feel the bottom dropping out, it is so good to know that God is there, seeing us and loving us in that moment. When we don't know what to do next,  it is always a good idea to ask for what we need. My stock prayer is "Lord, I need you." Can't get any simpler than that. For we Catholics, if we are unable to even pray, we can just hold our rosary beads and capitalize on all the prayers said upon them, and (in the words of a much respected priest friend) "let the rite carry you." An excellent prayer is the *Memorare.

5. Another saying I have (boy I have more sayings!), is "If something is good, it is good for everyone." 

This is helpful when we have to make tough decisions, like when a teen breaks up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. If the relationship was bad for you, it was bad for them too.  If you remove yourself from an unhealthy situation, you have basically cured Relational Cancer. Everyone has the opportunity to heal and do better. If my husband has to fire someone,( something he dreads), as long as he knows he was fair, ultimately that person will improve the things that were weak or lacking, and go on to be a better worker. If I become a better person, better Catholic, better mother, all the people in my life benefit. Even if they don't like or agree with all my actions, they benefit from my prayers and obedience. Those things ripple out into the world  and effect changes I may never know about. ( a la my previous post). Of course the opposite is true too, but I am focusing on the positive side here. Usually, upon making any challenging moves, there is a period of difficulty and discomfort while we make adjustments and get used to a new way, but also there is an underlying sense of peace that eventually settles in for good.  (quitting smoking is a good analogy).

6. God willing, we will have another go at it tomorrow.

It is rare that we have to tackle everything and solve everything instantaneously. Take the time to pray, think and talk about things with people you trust. So many times, just "sleeping on it" will lessen the pressure, and give you fresh insight  and ideas. In those instances when we do have to act quickly, at least we can try to only address immediately what truly requires it. If my daughter gets overwhelmed with the college application process, we try to figure out what needs to be done first, by when and just think about that. Looking at  it all at once just underscores how big of a task it is, and is confusing.

 Well, these are just my reflections on how change can be our friend or our enemy, and how God seems to be in the business of always challenging us. I don't think we will be through changing until the day we die, and if we can embrace that, it will be mostly fun and exciting. Except when it's not fun. And then we can offer it up.

A little note-- if you happen to remember yet another of my past posts, I talked about wanting to quit my part time job. Well, I have! It was at one of the Archdiocesan residences for homeless women. I plan to go back on a volunteer basis, and do the fun parts, without all the floor mopping. I am hoping my family will be able to perform a Christmas concert for them. Just the knowledge that I will not have to jump every time they call, or have my youngest daughter have a long face on Friday nights when I have to leave, is a huge weight off my shoulders. I plan to celebrate this Friday night by sitting on the couch, watching a movie and eating snacks.



Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

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