Jo, I didn't answer your question very well, and I apologize for that. I'll get around to it, but it seems my answer is buried under a lot of junk. This is going to take a couple of entries.
I need you to help me figure out how I can also take so much pleasure in my children. I read your blog and I need your secrets. You seem to have unending amounts of patience and the ability to adore your children at all times. I need that. Share?
I... Uh... Hmmm.
Well, ok, I really do enjoy my children. They're the best and finest surprises I've ever received in my life. Smidge was a bit more of a shocker than the first two, but equally welcome and just as cherished. I'm not the best mother in the world. I blow it. I get overwhelmed. I have had to look my children in the eyes and apologize for making a rash or bad decision more than I care to admit. I look back daily and see things I could have done better or should have done differently. Sometimes I drive myself batty with the Monday Morning Quarterbacking. But in general, there is something to cherish in these kids every day. Life. Now, please know I don't throw that out there lightly. Life isn't something I have always cherished. It's not even something I liked at one point. To go from animosity and contempt to utter gratitude and treasured thankfulness isn't a flippant thing.
So I guess I will start there. My first thought when I read her request was that I really can't answer this. I think she has the wrong person. I do NOT have unending amounts of patience. I don't. I'm not even really a very gracious, forgiving, or lenient person. It's been a long, long road of learning these things, and I'm still painfully new at it. I didn't know them growing up. I most certainly didn't learn them in my first marriage. And I can (use your best Justin Wilson voice here) gaaaaaraauuuunteeee I didn't pick any of those traits up during my newly-divorced-recovery period. That leaves me with only about ten years of experience in learning about the good things in life.
It's funny, because as we anticipate the addition of our fourth child to the family, we are so very excited about it. Yet in response to the news, my sister sent me an email letting me know she thinks it's a huge cosmic joke God is playing on me as "payback". She can't believe the "girl who hated being part of a family would go on to have four kids". What she doesn't understand is that not only am I not the "girl" to whom she refers (I've lived in my own home for 15 years and she has been in my home once - and that was only because Mom refused to take her diamond stash to Denny's to be divided up among us kids - this isn't a woman who knows me from Adam at all), but also that I didn't hate being part of a family. I just knew mine was pretty messed up and I wouldn't have wished it on anyone, let alone brought a life into it.
And I didn't want children then. Not because I didn't want a home and a family. I actually yearned for those things with all my heart, but dared not even hope to have them because I was terrified I would be a really, really bad mother. I didn't believe I could be a nice person. I wasn't a forgiving person. I wasn't the kind of person you would describe as "nurturing" or "gentle" even in your most generous of moments. And I knew it, and that terrified me.
But then, by the grace of God, and I mean that literally, things began to change in big ways that I, a) did not welcome, b) did not know how to handle, c) had to handle anyway. The changes are still coming (at least I hope so - I have a long way to go!), but they were jump started by a series of crisis/lesson combos that crystallized any positive change in me to the mother of today from the black-and-white, bitter, angry woman I was. (I'm not saying you are, just that I was, in a big way.)
When I realized Zorak trusted me to be the mother to his children, it was huge. HUGE. Me. With all my faults and flaws and quirks. My temper. My gypsy instability. My stubbornness. My cynicism.
Trust is an amazing, healing, powerful sensation. It makes the recipient want to be worthy of that trust. It's similar to the urging of the Holy Spirit - once we grasp that He trusts us to follow Him, it's easier to let go and do just that. Because suddenly you know someone actually thinks you can do it, and do it beautifully. So you want to. God used Zorak to help me look beyond the walls I'd erected to protect myself and see the potential God had for me. I still didn't think I could do it, but He did. And I don't have to do it perfectly - none of us can, and He knows that, too. It's pretty amazing. And what's more amazing is that for the first time in my life I began to realize I didn't have to do it "all by myself", which I'd always thought was a given. (Duh!) I have my faith to lean on spiritually, and my husband to lean on physically, and all the wonderful people who have come into my life to guide me, chastise me, help me, trust me, and even, when necessary, mock me. Life is GOOD!
So for me, on a daily basis, I am really aware that I don't deserve this. That sensation most people joke about, "who thought we could be parents?" Well, for me that's still a funny joke, but it's not entirely a joke. It's huge. God has trusted me with a husband, and they have both trusted me to be "the Mommy". I get choked up just thinking about what an honor that is.
When I wake up in the morning to toes poking my abdomen and somebody laying on my hair, and a warm, groggy boy asking for food, I want to wrap my arms around them all and just stay. right. there. Forever. But they just keep getting hungrier if you don't feed them, so we get up and get going on our day.
Not before I've had my reminder, though, that someone trusts me to do right by these amazing little lives. Someone trusts me to keep them safe, to make them know they are precious, and to guide them in their growing. It's like God's little post-it note for me. You know, in case I forget.
Seriously, kiss those babies! They're huge, and they need us.
I'll write more tomorrow. I'm never going to stay away during church as it is, but maybe I can get a little rest so I can make it through Sunday School.