Tag Archives: parenting

Stress?

It was quite the day.

4:30 a.m. and I was already in front of the mirror, taming the wild mane of clean hair. I’d gone to bed with it wet to gain sleep time.

I’m not a morning person.

Packed my bag for the hospital stay. Put on my favorite shirt for the interview.

Hubby and I bundled our sixteen-year-old “baby” in the car, dreading the pain he would soon endure.

It’s our fourth hip surgery. Experience is helpful in these situations. It also makes you realistic about things like how much pain there is and how demanding the next few weeks are, how long the months to recovery will be.

At the hospital they take us through the paces. The doctor talks through options of what he might do depending on what he sees once he’s inside.

The anesthesiologist discusses options, too. We ask for the anti-nausea patch. Opt for a spinal over an epidural. Last time Sam hated the tingling in his feet.

One last kiss. My child is whisked away. Parents ushered away, too. We’re sent to wait.

I linger only a moment before a brisk walk to the van. My interview is on the other side of the big city. If traffic cooperates I can be there and back before while my son is still in surgery.

It’s 7:30 now, and I long for the coffee I feared would upset my system three hours before. But the traffic is heavy, and a Starbucks’ line seems unwise.

It’s stop and go, this tedious drive that used to take half the time before my city grew. Close to my destination I realize I will be late.

I’m interviewing for a demanding experience in a third world country. “How do you hand stress?” They ask.

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Photo from Wiki – South Sudan

I’m calm. So calm.

Stress. The files click in my mind. Stress was those seven years. When my husband almost died. When they almost took our home. When all four children faced sickness, surgeries, undiagnosed illness, broken bones, struggles academic, physical, emotional, spiritual.

When dreams crashed, and I fought for breath every day. Digging deep. Carrying on.

Stress was two years past the seven. When two car accidents stole my stalwart reserves, messing with my head, my emotions, causing headaches, pain in my neck and back, sensations still undiagnosed. Making me afraid to drive. Afraid to live, really.

But today is 2014. Not 2012 or the years before.

“I don’t know. I haven’t had much stress lately.”

If they are incredulous they don’t show it.

They know my son is in surgery. They’ve been praying for our family. They know I drove through rush hour traffic to get to them.

I talk about the hard stress years. How I had to be strong. How the car accidents stole my strength.

I’m in the van before I realize the absurdity of my answer. How this day. THIS day of surgery, little sleep, traffic, and interview I say I am not stressed.

I shake my head. They must think me delusional.

Or in denial at least.

I laugh at me. Did they do the same when I left the room?

Today is stress. Even more than normal stress.

But maybe I’m not so stressed I don’t know stress. Maybe I’m not in denial.

It’s a matter of contrast.

Those years, those nine years of unrelenting stress . . . did they teach me something? Show me we can endure more than I knew?

I’m deeper now. God is more established in me. Oh HE was always right there, but I know Him more. His faithfulness. His provision.

His ability to receive my pounding fists when I hate the things He allowed.

I trust Him more. He has earned that trust.

My friend says I’m happier this summer. Is it due to the reduced stress or the increased understanding of life, God, strength?

Maybe both.

My stress this surgery day is real, even if I didn’t articulate it in the interview. But it is not crushing real.

Some things are understood in the comparison.

Some things are understood in the perspective of a life lived.

And in this we have survived. Blossomed even.

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Until next time,

paula cropped

Why I Flirt in the Kitchen

Thanks to some links on my daughter’s fb page I’m thinking about modesty, sex, and what we teach our daughters.

modesty

This image from a fun site all about swimsuits of the 1900s

Here’s the thing. Sometimes in our attempt to raise modest daughters we inadvertently teach them that they should be ashamed of their bodies, that men are animals, and that sex is bad.

(And here I nod to Miss Kiki’s Journey and a wonderful post called Modesty, Lies, and Making People Mad.)

Children of conservative families are sometimes surprised to visit our house. I kiss my husband in front of my children and their friends. We flirt in the kitchen. We hint at the privileges of marriage. This is an intentional choice. Part of it is purely selfish. It’s fun, and Jerry and I like it! Flirting in the kitchen makes the day a little brighter and sometimes leads to a bit of fun behind closed doors later.

But I have another reason for my kitchen flirting. I want my children to embrace the idea that marriage is fun, and tat sex in marriage is a fabulous gift, one to treasure and look forward to. We don’t avoid the topic at our house because sex in marriage is right and good and God-designed.

I still remember one of the first times I hung out with Jerry’s parents. They were a very conservative couple who fit the traditional 50’s image of pastor and pastor’s wife. You rarely saw Ray without a tie, and Fencine is one of the most proper women I know. They were a deeply loving and spiritual couple with very conservative values.

We were in the home of Jerry’s brother and his wife. It was a family setting, no other guests, so things were a little more relaxed. Already grandparents several times over, Jerry’s parents must have been married close to 40 years at this point.

You have the set-up; here’s the punch line. As we headed into the kitchen for lunch Ray popped Fencine on the bottom! Just a little, affectionate, flirty swat!

I was shocked, but I treasure that memory of how a couple who’d been married that long were still flirting in the kitchen.

I don’t mean to be trite. Modesty is a real issue. I do believe men are wired more visually than women. (And frankly, under the clock of married love this can be a lot of fun.) What I don’t believe is that women are solely (or even primarily) responsible for how men respond to what they see.

Here’s another lesson I learned from Jerry’s dad. We all went to Schindler’s List. There is a scene that is not sexual at all, but the women in the concentration camp are stripped naked so the guards can decide which ones are strong enough to continue living. Jerry’s dad very quietly left the theater until the scene had passed. A real man respects a woman’s privacy.

As a mother of sons I expect my young men to be responsible. I applaud Kiki who said, “Boys are capable of looking at a woman without lust. Boys are not animals and we must stop putting it in their minds that they are. Also we need to stop telling that to girls. Men are not to be feared. Every man’s mind is not full of lust 100% of the time. They are intelligent and wonderful . . .”

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Kissing hubby on our 25th wedding anniversary

That’s not to say modesty is not a real issue. We need to teach our daughters that their body is a beautiful treasure to be unwrapped at the appropriate time. We need to teach her she is more than her body, that the sexy images on the big screen and glossy magazines that stress only the body are not accurately portraying the main reason for a woman’s existence.

We are not objects, but we are a work of art. We need to celebrate our daughter’s full person, not chop off the body as the shameful part in our efforts to help her learn self-respect and wisdom.  Modesty should not be stressed in a way that makes our daughters think their bodies are shameful, men are scary, and sex is bad.

Sex is good. Sexy behind closed doors between a husband and wife is fun. I want my children to enjoy their marriage privileges without shame. I want my daughter to be comfortable with her body. I want my sons to know that thinking a woman is beautiful is normal.

It’s why I flirt in the kitchen.

(Jerry just read this and said I flirt because he is irresistible. That, too. ;o))