Monday, September 04, 2006

Course Correction

The hardest part of parenting is parenting yourself. Catherine Poisson told me a long, long time ago that the parents' needs must be accomodated first, before those of the child: when the oxygen masks drop in case of low cabin pressure, you put on your mask, then your kid's, in order to save both of you. Dr. Sears, the attachment parenting pediatrician, said it another way: your marriage has to take top priority, since that foundation must be strong to allow you to raise kids to maturity. In her Spring 2006 talk at All Saints Church in Pasadena, CA, Susan Thistlethwaite, president of the Chicago Theological Institute, said that the problem in the U.S. is that people consistently put their families above what God wants. Wayne told me when he heard that, he suddenly woke up. This is exactly the mistake in proportion we've been making for many years (approximately since the birth of our first child), and the one we are working to correct right now.

There is a big disconnect between knowing all this intellectually, and putting it into practice. The main disjunction (disfunction) is caused by fear. I have to say that I've been getting strong messages (maybe "commands" is the right word) to go to New York for about three years, and consistently put them aside in favor of the "rational" scenario of keeping my kids in the safe haven of the Pasadena Waldorf School, where they have been loved, supported, inspired and educated to appreciate the beauty and joy of life. Prior to being there, I home-schooled my three kids for a year; I know what great education is worth. We have a beautiful family life because my kids are attached and engaged. BUT, on a personal level, I have been sick, exhausted, discouraged, broke, heartbroken. DH Lawrence would instantly diagnose me as a writer who has not been doing my work. William Blake keeps repeating in my head, "Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires." And Rick Warren, author of A Purpose-Driven Life, points to all these symptoms as the result of trying to run your life yourself, instead of giving the wheel to the creator of the universe. Everybody knows what happened to Jonah, when God asked him to preach in Ninevah and he ran the other way: he ended up inside the belly of a whale. That's where I've been, especially for the last year, and I'm not going back. God wants action, not stasis. Moving forward.

I was stung by the reading in church yesterday, from the book of James:

"Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who...persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act - they will be blessed in their doing."

What God calls for is ACTION. We got back from a month in Germany and France two days ago. Yesterday was my eldest son's 10th birthday. Two days from now, my kids are supposed to start school, the middle one expecting the first day of first grade. Today is the day we're going to tell them we've sold our house and are moving to Brooklyn instead. Things have happened that fast. It is easy to see where the doors are opening before us, and only denial could close those doors again.


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