Water World

Summertime is a messy time.  I write that as if fall, winter, and spring are neat and clean.  I need to face the music:  life is messy year round.  Sometimes I am really good at accepting that and not tying it to personal failure on my part, but instead to my families’ priorities.  We are all fond of big messy projects and tend to choose them over housework most days.  We’re homeschoolers.  We’re supposed to do this stuff, right?  But sometimes I totally snap and start walking around my house seeing all the work that needs to be done and I start to cry.  Saturday was one of those days for me.  And this was the Saturday that followed the Friday night that I went kayaking with Seth.  According to Jonny, kayaking is really good for me.  It should help me to destressify (yes, that’s a made-up word.)  Though, clearly it isn’t full-proof.  Maybe the problem was that I made the foolish choice to take my camera complete with big heavy zoom lens this time.  (Won’t ever take a camera again.  And because I am right now remembering that someone asked how I protect my camera:  I use Pelican cases)  Or maybe it was that the flies were biting and I had to spend a lot of time slapping them off my arms and legs.

As much as I do love this new water world of mine, kayaking isn’t going to save my soul, if you know what I mean.  But paddling around in the water does give me some time to think things over.  On Saturday, I told Jonny that sometimes I feel so oppressed by a heaviness that seems to be rooted in my desire to do a good job raising our family, and that my failings in this department are so evident that it just crushes me.  He suggested that my very best (perfection in my mind) might not be necessary.  That maybe I just need to focus on doing it without holding myself to a unreasonable standard.  I am human after all.  I can’t be perfect.

I am reminded (yet again) of St. Therese of Lisieux and her “little way” and what an important message she has for the tired mother whose work never ends, the mom whose job is never finished.  It’s not what you do, how perfectly you do it, or whether you finish even, but where your heart is in the process.  I struggle because I really love to complete things.  I like to see results.  But so often I am drowning in laundry and my kids are fighting again.  Clearly, the performance mentality I am struggling with is not going to work for me.  And really, what is that about anyway?  I am afraid that at the heart of it, I fall into a pattern of serving myself, rather than my family and even worse, rather than God.  I just want to clean a room and have it stay that way.  I want to teach my kids a lesson and see them take it to heart.  I want to go somewhere as a family and not have kids fighting over who sits where because they are all so kind and generous with each other (because I am doing such a phenomenal job of raising them thank you very much-ha!)  Thankfully, God isn’t demanding to see results:  perfection in housework or even mothering, he’s just asking me to do these things with love.  As long as I am striving for the unattainable, and for the wrong reasons, I am going to find it difficult to love.  I need to focus on the heart behind my every task, rather than the finished product, or how well it is done.  I need to accept the fact that I can’t parent perfectly.  I need to get back to doing small things with love.  And hence, the name of this old blog of mine.  The reminder in my face of the lesson I can’t seem to live consistently.  It’s not the product, but the process.  I was not made for performance, or perfection of task, but for love.  Just do the next thing, don’t worry about doing it well so much as doing it with love.  Okay, Ginny?  You got that? Love.

Paddle to the Cliffs

On the way out.

And, headed back in.

Yesterday, I was making dinner when Seth asked if I would drive him to the end of our road with Gabe’s kayak so he could go explore along the base of some cliffs across the water.  I was really hesitant, partially because I was busy, but also because Seth has never paddled a kayak before and I wasn’t comfortable with him going out alone.  I pulled my usual, and told him to go ask Jonny.  A little while later, Jonny came in from his office and told me that I ought to just take Keats’ kayak and go with Seth.  That thought hadn’t even crossed my mind, even though I’ve been saying for a long time now that I want to start kayaking.  It seems like a good way to work on upper body strength, which I am sorely lacking in, while being outside.  The problem outside of time and equipment is that I am not good at trying new things.  While I was too adventurous before I had children, over the years since becoming a mom it’s possible that I have become overly cautious.

Jonny assured me that I wouldn’t flip the kayak (I don’t think I’ve ever told you the story about going canoeing with Jonny’s friend Ed back in college…there was a lot of flipping the canoe involved!)  and before I could put too much thought into it (“It’s almost dinner time…I have too much to do…I’m scared“), I changed clothes, grabbed a hat and some water and said, “Okay!”  Seth was really excited for us to do this together, and that made me happy.

Once we set out, we only had an hour before Jonny would be returning to pick us up, so we didn’t waste time.  The water was almost perfectly calm, but I felt awfully wobbly as Seth and I paddled out into what seemed like the abyss.  Seth was completely confident and that helped me to be brave.  I experienced a perfect combination of fear and thrill.  One of the most profound aspects of this little adventure was realizing that I was being led by my child.  Every day I look at him and can’t believe that he’s nearly fifteen, only seven years younger than I was when he was born!

Despite being deeply tired, I’ve carried yesterday’s smiles with me all day long.  I know what I want for my birthday, though I don’t think I can wait until December!