Recently I tried to get a “real job.” Not that what I do right now isn’t work. But most of what I do is pro bono, gratis, charity– you know, housework. A too-good-to-be-true opportunity came my way, so I dropped everything summer and spent five hours updating my 20-year-old resume. I somehow managed to not look like an antique in my resume and landed an interview. That was where my dust started to show. Uh, a block of time? You want me to give you an available block of time? I thought this was a project gig. At some point my rambling and inability to commit got me the secret gong signal, and I was hastily ushered out. My reaction: a kamikaze plunge into self-pity and worthlessness, at which I declared to anyone who would listen, “I’m nothing more than a consumer!”
I didn’t actually want the job, but I was still cut that I didn’t get it.
My sister, bless her wise heart, is witty and Godly and real. She had this to say:
Also, per your comment last night that you had a moment where you thought you were not contributing [to the world at-large]….each day you invest hours into your kids’ lives so that they will have the ability to navigate through the salt marsh that is our world. It may not feel like much…but trust me, your presence in Him [God] is doing more than you can ever imagine. Keep fighting the good fight. Your kids are worth the investment….as you know.
I wanted to share Heather’s words, as they speak straight to the daily challenge of impotence or unimportance that can creep over us parents like the tide. Each day… we invest into our kids, pouring into them what we think matters. Some days the fight is “good.” Some days it just feels like street fighting. But I’ll try to keep my presence in God, like she says, because He is the One who sustains me.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Phillippians 4:13
Summer. Kids: “We’re bored. Amuse us. Divert us. Spend money on us.” Me: Can’t you go play Legos or find something to do for just a little while?”
School. Me: “Kids? Where are you? It’s time for school… Kids?” chirp… chirp…
So school has begun, and I can’t find them anywhere. Luke’s probably exploding something or splashing water on the wasp’s nest in the back yard. Gabriel just got into Diary of a Wimpy Kid and won’t put it down. Except to make a tinfoil spike ball, described in said book. I remember when Luke read that book, because I just put it together with a sudden appearance of tinfoil-toothpick spike balls that materialized in bulk around our house several years ago. It all makes sense now.
Actually, as I type, Luke came to show off his latest effort in creativity and political correctness. It’s snack time, of course. I’ll give him Fine Arts AND Social Studies credit for it.
I find school motivates them to do more edifying things like reading (fun books, not to be confused with education in any way) or any number of activities that somehow aren’t nearly as interesting during the doldrums of summer when mom is available to provide *quality* entertainment. I feel so… off the hook in a way. No one wants to be near me, for fear I’ll grab the spelling book or, upon checking the language exercises, call them over for some one-on-one to discuss dangling modifiers or capitalization.
The hardest part of school starting is being powerful again. Not the emcee anymore; it’s back to Sergeant you-will-do-EXACTLY-what-I-tell-you. Ouch. Can we get back to loving each other at around 2 PM, when I’m done making you do things you hate? Hope so.
My friend’s email ended with those words. No jk. No lol. I’m dead serious. This highlights the reality of our existences raising boys. I came home from a lovely walk with my husband to find my boys and her boys (all between the ages of 8 & 12) playing a game they made up called “Sling-the-Poo.” The object (not rocket scientry) was to hit your opponent with a worrisomely-thin plastic grocery bag full of dog poo while NOT being hit yourself. Players got a spontaneous lesson in centrifugal force when a whirling bag tore open, spewing foul batter all over two of them. I wondered if my friend would ever send her boys over to “play” again.
This is just one example of the fallout from curbing my children’s TV/video game/iPod use– what we in my home refer to as “electrical stimulation.” But oh! How much cleaner and less dangerous to plop them down beside the romantic glow of some rectangle. The worst that can happen to them is a crick in their little craned necks or a swallowed bug, as their mouths fall and remain open with intense, religious concentration. Over time they might develop that doughy, slouchy, translucent look of the physically diminished Game Stop type– ah, if that were truly the only downside to the virtual life! Some days, like on poo-slinging days, I wonder why we don’t just plug in like everyone else. I’ve heard all the good reasons to have cable TV– the food channel, Discovery channel, History channel, MTV. Not.
Why do I continue to turn my back on cable TV? Ok, TV in general. I got a taste of it recently. After traveling some nine hours to drop my son at encampment, I was a bit out of my comfort zone. So the idea of being holed up in the safety of our hotel room to watch some very special History channel together was appealing. With all the other raunchy choices, I felt like we were about to have us some television salad. I bunked down in my pj’s and fluffed the ten feathery pillows under me to do what the rest of America does in stride on any given night.
On comes an episode about serial murderers in America.
After educating me on the many deranged, psychopathic serial killers who live undetected all around me and look like Mr. Rogers, who could be my best friend for all I know because there’s no way to know who is and who isn’t, and even with all our scientific junk we still don’t know what makes a suave, well-adjusted, guy-I-probably-know decide to cut up truck drivers in his spare time and bury their parts in his herb garden…
…this phrase actually came out of the TV, along with creepy, anxiety-producing music: Will we– with xyz scientific gadgetry– be able to avoid the impending carnage? The. Impending. Carnage? The History channel is referring to my possible future? Really. That is about as subtle as being clubbed with a bus. Even though I was cognizant of the fact that the sole purpose of the show was to scare the snot out of me, I was still afraid to go get my dinner leftovers from the van at a commercial break. Grrr. And I said to myself, this is why I don’t watch TV. I’d rather live in the mildly naive state of DEFCON 5, than in the media-induced neurosis of a perpetual DEFCON 1, a reality that includes, around every corner, a serial killer, a rapist, and a tornado. Yes, even The Weather Channel has figured out how to exploit my fears. So I turn my back on TV, a drastic thing to do. Even though for just $75 a month I could have a buffet of terrors at my fingertips.
It can be a dangerous world out there, especially if you have an atom of creativity and a dearth of electrical stimulation.