Saturday, April 21, 2007

If you mess up at being a wife and mother, nothing else you do really matters. Jackie Kennedy

I must disagree, Mrs. Kennedy. Every wife messes up. Every mother messes up. Some more than others, so I believe what matters most is much more about learning and teaching forgiveness than not "messing up". Mistakes are inevitable. Forgiveness and healing are optional.

Honestly, I used to think I could live my entire life without regrets. I woke up every morning and went about my good work- with inner city families and my neighbors. I did all the right things for all the right people. Looking back, I had a poorly examined life and conscience at that time without realizing it.

When I was pregnant with my first child I thought, "This will be easy, because I'm already great with children. I will study all the right books and be an expert parent."

Then I gave birth to my first son. I did not figure on the emotional tail spin an itty bitty seven pound living creature could cause. First of all, the birth did not follow the textbook. Secondly, despite my careful research and care, Peace dehydrated and had gotten a "fever of unknown origin" in his third day on earth. He spent several days from then on in the Children's Hospital enduring IV's, spinal taps, and blood tests. Seven days later, my husband, myself, and my mother returned home safely with Peace though we were utterly exhausted, spent, and undone.

Thirteen years later, I remain undone. I have a pile of regrets which string to the moon and back. The funny thing is that I don't really mind. I can't do or be more than I know how to be. I learned in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd that life "is a big work, a long work." I can't live in fear of messing up, because my life is messy. My marriage and children need deliberate and constant care and tending exponentially more than my vegetable garden. Weeds in the heart are far more difficult to pull than the stubborn Johnson grass which loves the right side of my tomato beds.

I know avoiding mess ups to be hopelessly impossible when:
my six year old daughter angrily cries, "You are breaking my life when you make me clean my room!",
I try to "help" the reluctant Peace with a composition assignment,
Wise One won't stop whining,
Tater refuses to acknowledge his mistakes,
and Buck has to listen to my ugly fuss about clutter on the kitchen counter.
Finding a way back to one another in conflict is the harder and more important task.

So, Mrs. Kennedy, since you can't speak for yourself from where you are, the charitable assumption is that you knew and practiced the art of forgiveness which kept your family strong and beautiful. I hope you don't mind me taking the liberty of going beyond your quote.


unquenchableworshipper said...

I couldnt help it...the counter was sooooo clean!

John said...

Thanks for sharing.

One of the questions in the Methodist Blogger Profile series is "If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything that you'd do differently?" Almost everyone says 'no, who I am is what I have been'. Or something along those lines. I generally think 'Wow. What easy lives these people have had. Or they're just way too accepting.' I could create a long list of things that I regret -- things that I would do differently.

truevyne said...

Really now?

Most of my regrets are about loving my family better. I hate that I can go from complete grump with my husband or child and immediately switch to "happy face cheery girl" when the phone rings. I don't like my own hypocrisy.

unquenchableworshipper said...

(note to self) next time true is in a grumpy mood, go to other room and call her cell.

almostgotit said...

I was REALLY relieved by where you ended up going with this post. The quote had me worried and intimidated for a minute :)

almostgotit said...

You and Buck are so cute.