Yesterday at an appointment with my counselor we talked a bit about my childhood and what it was like growing up in my home. I want to make it clear that in many respects I had a very good childhood, blessedly free from many of the traumas that children have to endure. But there was always an undercurrent of turbulence, a sense of waiting for the next shoe to fall, the next fight between my brothers, the next verbal barrage from my mother undermining whatever I happened to think was important. My older brother escaped into a fantasy world of comic books, science fiction, and role-playing games, a world he still lives in today at the age of 43. My younger brother rebelled, first by breaking all the rules, then by running off to join the army. (Hint – we are Mennonite, that was a HUGE deal for my parents. I will also say it was perhaps the best thing he could have done for himself.) And me? I learned to keep my mouth shut, to fly under the rader, to strive for perfection. And when the time came I walked away and never looked back.
This has molded the type of mother I want to be, the home I want to have. I have always wanted my children to look back and remember home as a place filled with love, laughter and acceptance. I have wanted ours to be the house where their friends come and feel welcomed and at peace. And over the past few years I have felt that I was failing my dream. This past year has been especially hard, as I struggled through depression, through periods of anxiety and uncontrollable rage. I was afraid that my children would never have the home I wanted them to have.
Today Gates gave me the most wonderful gift. I came out from tucking Indy in for a nap (yes, I am blessed to have a 3 1/2 year old who still takes naps on most days) and saw Gates just laying on the floor, feet propped up on the windowsill.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“I’m making a memory.”
“Oh. Is it a good memory?”
“Can you tell me about it?”
“I’m making a memory of our house because it is a house where there is lots of love and laughing and no meanness and yelling. I like this house.”
The conversation went on for a bit, to include my in-law’s house, which is apparently a farm full of love. But that was the gift to me (after my bout with guilt two days ago when I yelled at Indy for an accident that happened after he did something I’d asked him not to do). Despite all of my failings as a parent, my children are recognizing the love I have for them.
Gates helped me to fold a sheet (miraculous in itself…he is suddenly voluntarily becoming more helpful around the house) and when he dropped the corner and we laughed he said, “I’m glad we laugh in our house. That is a good memory.”
There will still be days that I will fail them. But for today I have been given this gift. Through the voice of my child God has reminded me that when the things we seek are the things that are his character we WILL see them come to fruit eventually. The road isn’t always easy, we will feel that we’ve fallen short. But keep pressing on.
May God grant us all houses full of love and laughter.