Friday, March 21, 2008

I Just Don't Think It's Possible to Really Take a Day OFF!

The ministry is a busy, BUSY place. I mean, think about it for a minute: the director, one board member and I (all with families of our own to care for) live with and mentor eight women (some with children), and they each have significant problems; spiritual, emotional, physical, mental...

This means that my door is revolving. Someone is knocking all the time and in some sort of need. One thing I notice from time to time is that they believe their needs supersede anyone else's they really "need" me to drop whatever I'm doing and help them.

So the director and I came up with a plan of sorts. Each week we each take a "day off." It sounded like a great idea! Just post a note on the door to your apartment saying that you aren't available for the day, right? And on that day, purpose to take some time for yourself; read, relax, go for a walk with your kids, sleep in, turn off your phone (yeah, right!), and just sorta disengage for the day.


It just doesn't happen.

For one, my kids are still wanting to play with their friends in the complex, so they're all in and out of my apartment constantly.

Two, a note on the door saying I'm "unavailable" seems not to be a deterrent for most of these gals. In their mind, I'm here for them, so I should set aside "my day" to help them in their "emergency," which tends not to be much of an emergency to me, but I understand why it can seem like it is to them.

And three, I feel terribly guilty for laying around reading, sleeping in, or whatever. I can't seem to make myself stay away. I suppose (and I hate how pious this sounds, but...) I just feel like the Lord intends for me to give myself to others, and because of that, I wonder if I really NEED a day off. Is it possible that it's just some sort of worldly mandate I feel like I must follow? I dunno. :o/

In any event, I'm resting now, catching up on my blog (as well as some others') and I have two meetings scheduled today to meet with sojourners. I guess I'm not REALLY off today, after all. ;o)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How do I love thee? Let me count the DAYS!

I remember when my kids were very, very young, thinking to myself, "If only they could live with me forever...if only they'd need me and I could hold and nurture them each and every day for the rest of our lives." See, I was quite saddened back then at the idea of them never needing me again. After all, we waited and waited for the Lord to answer our prayers and bring us these wonderful blessings to adopt...

You can imagine my utter amazement, when I realized I was looking at the calendar and actually counting the days until the kids start leaving the nest. *GASP*

Okay...let's see here...the 16yo will probably not go to college, just because he doesn't love learning the way I had hoped, so he'll probably join the service and attend trade least two more years with him. And my 13yodd,...she's destined to stay with us til she's married, I'm,...Wow! least another five years with her. Now, what about the baby...?...Oh, my...just eight or so years to go until college for him...

Now, it's not exactly what you might think. I'm not really in a big hurry to rush them all out the door...or at least not because I'm sick of them or tired of parenting them. That's not it at all!

I think I'm just realizing that those "empty nest days" are something to look forward to, not something to dread. My children are becoming adults, slowly but surely (sometimes too surely, and for my 16yos, way too slowly *lol* ) and I'm beginning to see that...Hey! that's what I've been parenting them become God-fearing adults, capable of making decisions, investments, and even their own mistakes.

And besides,...dh and I could really use a honeymoon. ;o)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Boundaries of Jell-O

One of the most difficult things for me to do as a parent, is stick to the boundaries dh and I decide are best for our children. For example, when we were younger, and our kids were quite small, we made the decision to watch/rent only "G" and "PG" movies. But as the years have gone by, there have been movies that we both wanted to watch, and lo' and behold, they'd be rated "PG-13," or (Heaven forbid!) even "R." So, we'd relax the rule, make an exception, and now here we are with lots of "exception" and very little "rule."

I suppose much of that is natural. After all, as my children get older, I want them to begin deciding on their own a bit about what's "okay" and what's not, in certain areas.

But my kids have become masters at figuring out how to make Mom "gel" with the boundaries. Perhaps it's just a "once in a lifetime" event that would break our curfew...and then that situation seems to present itself more and more often. Or maybe it's a special show on TV that airs well past bedtime, so we'd better make sure we stay up and watch it...but then three other nights in the week have "specials" on, as well. *sigh*

I guess I just want my kids to know the difference between a boundary that has to stick, in order to protect them, and a boundary that is made of gelatin, and can be used to make life better for us as a family...whether it's more fun, or just something we would like to see happen for us. But I wonder how much of this they're truly understanding.

I suppose one way to know if the kids are respecting my boundaries, is to see if they're respecting (or even making) their own. Is school work, prayer time, eating right, avoiding certain situations, etc. important to them?

My youngest son (9yo) has had the toughest time with one boundary in particular. We live in an apartments complex. Although we're in a small town, I've made it clear that ds can NOT just walk out of the apartment without telling me he's leaving. That's tough for him. Mostly because we used to live in the country, and walking outside was not something that necessarily had to be reported, unless you were leaving "shoutin' distance." LOL! So for the last couple of years, retraining him to let me know when he's walking out the door, has been a struggle. And, consequently, he's been grounded to the apartment and from friend time quite often. :( I hate that...because I know it's probably not intentional, but is forgetfulness a good reason to soften this boundary? I have decided, no...his safety is more important.

However, recently I'm noticing he's doing much better...making sure to tell his friends whenever they come to call, that they'll have to wait on him at the door so he can tell his mom he's going to the playground. It's taken a long time, but the adjustment is finally taking hold. And since I know it is, when he does forget from time to time, I feel like I can let him "off the hook" a bit, because the rest of the time, he's doing so well remembering the boundary.

Obviously, doing this depends greatly on the kid, and how quickly they adjust once the consequences have been applied. :-D But today I'm just wondering how to manage my own boundaries, and what the Lord does to correct me when I don't do it very well. ;)