Thursday, January 05, 2006

on the other hand, if I was feeling so good, why I am up at five in the morning? I read the interchange of comments on Amy Welborn’s blog about the devil tormenting people at 3:00 am. I respectfully recused myself from that discussion. Not just because my first impulse was to say that I thought it was a bladder thing. Not that I think in any way that I am exempt from temptations to despair (nor am I doing so well that the devil has me on a priority list of good folks to mess with) but after almost 27 years of parenting I am not sure what a good night’s sleep is. What with highly attuned hearing and vivid imagination, I am very sensitive to all the things that go bump in the night. One of the batteries fell out of my TV remote, rendering the timer of the boob tube in my bedroom unusable. So this morning I was again tempted to despair by waking up at 4:30 with the FoodNetwork (which I don’t remembering tuning in to at bedtime) blaring an infomercial for the Total Gym. Pay no attention to the fact that I must lunge across the neglected NordicTrak crammed into my 8x11 boudoir to turn off the TV and get some decent sleep. I’m trying to pay no attention. In case my guardian angel is telling me that I should pay more attention to the NordicTrak. (This isa snarky comment. I’ve checked it out. Some Trappists have larger rooms than I do. And they don’t have as much junk - or family and pets - so the rooms must feel just luxuriously super large. Not that I should be complaining. At least I have a room. And family. Pets. And some cool junk.)

The niggling thought is that there are times I could use a little comfort. And, as great as fellow homeschoolers can be, there are the moments when I can find enough fodder in my reading to torment myself to the point of nausea and hives. I see a trend - more among evangelical Christians than fellow Catholics - to proof text one’s way to “guaranteed 100% perfect fool-proof guides to parenting.” For example, one homeschooling blog offers pointers for successful homeschooling with Biblical documentation:
They neglect to discipline their children. 1 Tim. 3:4 says an overseer (that's you in this case), "must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect." See Proverbs 22:15 and 13:25 for God's word on proper discipline. The key is to be consistent in enforcing rules and keep in mind that if they don't obey you, they won't obey God!

We all do agree that discipline is important. But I’ve spent so many hours with my spiritual director trying to manage my guilt about any failings of my children. Parents who (think) they have all the answers and are eager to remind everyone about how they will someday answer to God for their failings with their children may not necessarily being doing a service to the parents who couldn’t care less. But they can present a temptation to despair for any mother with a touch of scrupulosity in the area of maternal responsibility. And reading a paragraph like that has me backsliding into a shame spiral quicker than any chocoholic who has found a one pound Hershey bar.

In the light of day I can believe that I have come to accept that there is a point at which my work ends and the children’s free will takes over. God - all-powerful, all knowing, the Alpha and Omega, our uncreated Creator, the Word who become flesh and dwelt among us - well, he isn’t always listened to. So there is a bit of hubris in thinking that I can have better ‘success’ rate than God. And as far as “if they don't obey you, they won't obey God!” goes, I’ve known quite a few people who were much more keen on obeying their parents than God. Which, while satisfying the commandement to honor one’s parents and thereby is obedience to God’s word, is also a manifestation of fear of swift earthly reprisals without regard for eternal consequences. Surely my friends and I were not the only children in history to utter prayers along the lines of, “Please, God, it would help if my parents didn’t find out about: INSERT LATEST TRANSGRESSION HERE.” I won’t begin to think about the patterns we may set up for ourselves...thinking that we are doing OK if we can just convince our parents of supposed good behavior. You might be able to fool Mama. You can’t fool God.

I think I can go back to bed now and get a bit of sleep before I must be fully functional. And it will be a good day. As long as I don’t run into anyone eager to quote Proverbs to me:
Train a boy in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not swerve from it. Because someday I will hear this for the nth time at just the wrong momnent and will have to blurt out, “So, are you calling me a failure?” For departures there have been. And will be. And I cling to the hope that my children, like myself, might depart but will return to proper training of their youth.

No comments:

St. Isidore Foundation

I cannot live under pressures from patrons, let alone paint.
-- Michelangelo, quoted in Vasari's Lives of the Artists

Meet the Family...
Collect the Action Figures

Yes, three jade ribbons. 15 Years!
(not all the same child)
If you need to ask, you may not wish to know.

Site Meter