Well, Thank You, But... (an Open Letter to My Nurses)

Dear Nursing Staff,

Thank you for taking wonderful care of me today. Your prompt attention, compassion, sense of humor were all appreciated. I'd just like to address one misconception that seemed to come up *every* time one or another of you came to my room. One of you went so far as to be sure to inform the new nurse to the room of this staggering misconception. So, I'm sorry if I shatter you, but... being a mom of four kids and homeschooling them does not, in fact, qualify me for sainthood or Superwoman status. Although your awe and compliments totally made my day...when I closed my eyes and ignored their insane level of falsehood. :)

I could tell from your reactions that somewhere in your mind this picture was being painted:
A family in which some Otherworldly magic has imbued the very atmosphere with a backdrop of harp melodies, the strains of which caress each gentle child to wake in the morning with the sweetest of spirits. Upon awakening, this Otherworldly influence continues to weave its way through the day, guiding cheerful industry in chores and schoolwork, joyous kindness in relational interactions, ready and unquestioning obedience to instruction and correction, children ethereally gliding through the day on waves of every good virtue until sundown when, scrubbed clean and tucked snugly in bed, they drift into peaceful slumber again, smiles gracing their cherubic faces. All I can say is you've been reading way too much fantasy literature. Seriously.

I am not a saint in the way you meant it. I am so far from Superwoman it's laughable. Our home is loud. It is chaotic some days. There are battles of the will that I would swear leave more casualties than some of history's epic battles. I lose my temper - and my mind. I cry. I give up. I make beautiful plans that get dashed to pieces. I say things I have to apologize for. I make mistakes. Tons of them. In short, I'm human.

My kids are kids. They're smart kids. Smart enough to have their own opinions on e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. and be willing to fight for them. Smart enough to be amazing problem solvers and show you a far better way of doing whatever it is you've asked them to do than the way you've asked them to do it. They're active kids. They run and play and are loud and would far rather be doing anything than chores or the small amount of "sit-down" work I require of them. They throw temper tantrums. They disobey. They break things. They hurt each others' feelings; they hurt MY feelings. Some days they'd rather spend an hour on their bed being disciplined because they KNOW I'm being unjust and they would rather lose the day than admit they messed up. In short, they're human.

But, you see, there's good in us, too. We love each other. We work through the fighting days and hope for a better day tomorrow. Sometimes we do just call it quits on pushing the schoolwork because it's not worth the battle that day. There is much joy, laughter, playfulness, compassion, helpfulness, and love in our home. But it is not seamless perfection. I tried to live up to that for a lot of years; I refuse to try to saddle my kids with that expectation and would prefer that you disabuse yourself of it, too. We're family. We're human. We've chosen this. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it requires persistence. But because this is what is right for our family, it's worth working through all the messiness that it is in order to have the beauty that it is, too. Just as you have chosen what you are doing. Nursing and parenting in your context is hard. It requires persistence. But you have chosen it for yourself and your families, deciding that it's worth the work and messiness to have its own unique beauty. We're really not so very different.

So, from a grateful patient of several other wonderful people today,
Thank you for your choices. You're pretty amazing, yourselves.

Comments

  1. I do not know what you are talking about. It looks exactly like what you described in our house, especially after I took up the harp.

    Okay, I *almost* said that with a straight face! :-P

    I totally get this.

    I hope you are doing well!

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  2. I really appreciate this post...Parenting is not easy. I knew this but I did not KNOW this until my little Asa came along. And I had no idea that I could love a child like he's mine even though I didn't birth him...even though he is not biologically mine...even though I did not get him as a snugly baby, but as a willful five year old. I thought I could love a child like that, but I didn't KNOW until it happened. But then when I have those days, where I am pressed to my limits and I get too frustrated. I might raise my voice, but even if I don't I know that yelling is not always loud...and I feel so guilty. So I calm down and then come back, I get down on his level and hold his little hands and look in his eyes and tell him I am sorry I got so frustrated, and that I will try to do better. He really gets it...he forgives. And when he has a bad day and gets frustrated and feels bad for something, he comes to me and presses his forehead against mine and says, "sorry Mommy." Even though I know that this is normal, and even healthy, I feel so alone in those moments when I know my frustration has been over the top...my expectations have been over the top...and I know I have expected myself, and him, to be perfect. Julie is a nurse who works long hours, giving of herself to those who are in a crisis time. Wanting to make them feel special, wanting to give to them while she is there, must be there, instead of being home and giving to Asa. So I am home...and this experience for me now...something I have wanted for so long, to be a stay at home mom, has been ethereal in my mind, just as you described. Even though he goes to school...and in that time I have many papers to grade...many pages to write for dissertation...many things to continue to contribute to this career I have thrown myself into for the past 13 years...knowing how many lives I may have touched...and hopefully helped...and I think to myself how thankful I am on some days for that, and how devastated I am on other days. There has been such a cost to me. I used to think perfection had to happen...I could not have kids until I had a bigger house, a better car...until this or that...And in the end, now that I have all those things I thought were prerequisites, I am still NEVER going to be a perfect parent. And the weight of that is silence in this big house when Asa's away at school...and the weight of years that is the absence of lots of little ones that could be here but aren't. I have thought about homeschooling- in the lacerations that children come home with- from school, in the society I want desperately to protect him from...and I don't know if I can pull any more resources than I use right now. Maybe this is what those nurses thought when they saw you. A real woman living this option they did not take...or feel they cannot take...honoring a part of themselves they never express...and in doing so, idealizing it. And though I have no illusions now about myself or about parenting, I still must let go of this pressure of perfection I carry around...heavier than the weight of my career. Thank you for your post. I think just a bit of it may have lifted. I hope a little part of you enjoys, with hedonistic abandon, the adoration those nurses lavished upon you, while they were not at home snuggling their children. You deserve it. No matter how human you are.
    >Melissa

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  3. Thanks for posting this. Motherhood is something I definitely didn't plan on being so hard..lol. I romanticized it to the extent of being like a "supermom" who took my kids to the park and sat on the bench reading a book while they played and then coming home and having a meal ready and floating through the day without messiness or disobedience. In reality it is a messy job with many tears and frustrations and I appreciate that someone else is dealing with the same things I deal with every day. Thanks for putting it into words.

    Since we are moving and doing ministry now we have decided to homeschool Cade (at least to finish out Kindergarten). As far as what God will tell us to do at the end of that...well, let's just say we are gonna "see how it goes" lol. I'm still not sure we will make it through Kindergarten.

    I'm scared to move and move my children and I'm nervous about how we are gonna do with this church and making new friends and being the "new people". But I'm also excited about what God is doing.

    I appreciate you and miss you so much.

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