"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things,
and the God of peace will be with you."
-Philippians 4:9

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

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.