Our family has had a growth spurt recently we went from 3 to 5. Did I have twins to be featured on an upcoming episode of "I Didn't Know I was Pregnant"? Nope, our growth spurt is the temporary kind, in due time we will back down to 3. My niece is living into her own great transition these days and she has two little ones who are 6 and 2. In order for her to make head way her kiddos needed a safe place to land. So last Tuesday I picked them up somewhere between our homes. I am not working right now, our kiddo is being home schooled until the end of our own transition, so we added one to our at home learning. Paul and I didn't think too much about all this, we knew it was the right thing to do.
Then it started happening, "You are a saint. You guys are amazing. awesome etc." And while it's true we can be awesome at times, it is generally more to do with our humor or ability to cook Italian food and cakes, not our willingness to open our home to kids we are already madly in love with. I thought until this happened that most anyone would do this, I thought we were normal people, apparently we aren't. Here's the deal I greatly appreciate the praise but I feel unworthy of it. I don't think we are being amazing or awesome. I do find calling a Protestant almost Pastor a Saint hysterical though, even if I am alright with the Saints. And the truth... well the truth is I am a hot mess. Yesterday I called my husband at work and babbled on in a tense voice gibberish much like when Sally Field finds out Robin Williams is Mrs. Doubtfire. Then I cried in front of all the kids, twice. Three kids is hard work and before you question my sanity... today went MUCH smoother. I guess even though I am a dire perfectionist we need time to adjust and we have only been together a short time. Its like having three little dictators who want to be in charge of you all at once and they will fight each other for your attention = control. I should say I think they are all acting well with in the normal realm for all the transition these kids are going through.
I think all three of them are totally amazing. I am learning my own child is quite whiny which I had thought was normal until now. She is also prime candidate to be called cry baby at school just like her mom was, we will have to work on this since her mom didn't cry much for like 20 years. It's hard to blend two households together that have had such different expectations for the kiddos. We are making head way and establishing our new normal-for-now. I am far far far from a Saint. I am just a girl who thinks she ought to literally practice what she preaches, that we need to love one another, to help each other out. How can I stand in the pulpit regularly preaching love your neighbor as yourself if I am not out in the world loving my neighbor or in this case family with some radical (er maybe irrational) love? I can't. This wasn't a rational or logical decision, it was a compassionate one filled with love.
But here we sit cast by our culture as Saint Becca & Saint Paul (hmm his is already taken).
And then you have my niece who when we first talked about this said with her voice cracking, "People are going to judge me for leaving my kids." To which I responded something along the lines of, "We are all being judged all the time. Don't worry about what they think, they haven't got an Aunt Beck and Uncle Paul to help them out. You are making a hard choice to give your kids a safe place while you transition. A good mom makes hard choices, that's what makes her a good mom." I didn't say that to make her feel better, I said it because it's true, sometimes the decision that feels the most unnatural is the best one we can make.
Remember I survived a torturous 7 weeks with L at her grandma's this summer so I could complete my last ordination requirement. I cried my eyes out sending her off. People were super supportive because we are Becca and Paul, married, loving parents, who waited until they were mildly established to procreate, and then pursue a graduate education and ordination. So it was OK for us to let our kid go to Grandma's for 7 weeks. They you have my niece who is a young parent, not married, and trying to get ahead and for her it is not OK to let someone take care of the kids? WHY? WHY? WHY? She loves her kids, she wants for them what we want for L. So what is the difference? The only one I can see is that the same culture that type cast us as Saints has type cast her as Sinner. Do you think she walks around unaware of this? Do you think your silently pursing your lips in disapproval goes unnoticed? She isn't dumb.
AND I AM TIRED OF IT.
We all enter into parenthood differently and it's ok. There is no right way to become a parent, ideal maybe but what is an ideal anyway. It doesn't matter what they look like, its people who are parents. Parenthood is a struggle and it's about time we stop judging one another and start supporting one another.
I knew eventually someone would say it, someone would have the nerve and lack of self awareness to say something about my niece being "irresponsible". It happened, on Sunday, in church, a person who knows me well and has never met her, said something along those lines. I saw red. Bright beating pulsating red. And we wonder why people like my niece don't want to come to church? I didn't leave with out a small objection and when I did leave my heart was mildly broken.
Niece darling if you are reading this, I would never allow someone to talk to you like this. I stuck up for you before walking out. I love you. You are doing great. Our family is tight knit and when the going gets tough we take care of each other, we always have. A Saturday morning with a house full of kids is one of the most delightful things in the world, whether it was you and your friends as teenagers or our kids playing together.
I REFUSE to be one of those "church ladies" who sits on her bible fueled throne of judgement. It's not my job.
My job is to LOVE.
Today I am grateful for these precious even if crazy days with a houseful. I am grateful my daughter is learning what its like to live with family just like I always did. I feel like I am making up for lost time with these kiddos. I am grateful for all the love that has moved in me as a result of my faith.
So culture of ours, stop type casting us as Saints and Sinners.