I went to church growing up, but I didn’t grow up using church language. Weaving the words Jesus and God into my stories does not come naturally. And sometimes they way people use church language confuses me. Like when is the appropriate time to introduce words like forgiveness to a toddler? My three year old is asking me to forgive her for pointing her toe in ballet class; I would say she’s not ready for that word. She has also asked me, “Mom, does it make Jesus sad when I run?” “No, Elise it does not make Jesus sad when you run. Jesus wants you to run. It’s just not safe to run inside.” And when did “blessing” start getting so confusing?
- the act or words of a person who blesses.
- a special favor, mercy, or benefit: the blessings of liberty.
- a favor or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness.
- the invoking of God’s favor upon a person: The son was denied his father’s blessing.
- praise; devotion; worship, especially grace said before a meal: The children took turns reciting the blessing.
So if someone says to a stay at home mom, “It’s such a blessing for you to be home with them (kids) at this time.” Does that mean:
- It’s such a [the act or words of a person who blesses] for you to be home with [your kids].
- It’s such a [special favor, mercy, or benefit] for you to be home with [your kids].
- It’s such a [favor or gift bestowed by God] for you to be home with [your kids].
- It’s such a [the invoking of God’s favor upon a person] for you to be home with your [kids].
- It’s such a [praise, devotion, worship, especially grace before a meal] for you to be home with [your kids].
Frankly, number one does not make sense in this context; I think the other four definitions are some cause for thought. The second, third and fourth meaning both use the idea of favor. Does this mean that the moms that choose and/or need to work outside of the home do not have special favor? Or are not doing something to benefit their kids? I don’t think anyone has to the right to make that kind of judgment. The fifth meaning brings up the idea of an act of praise, devotion, or worship which again what does that imply about moms who choose to work outside of the home? And honestly, I don’t think I’m worshipping or showing my devotion to God by being a stay at home mom. I think how I choose to parent and teach my children about God and live my life out in front of them will reveal my devotion and worship of God.
I think that children are a blessing, a favor or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness, but I did not choose to resign from my teaching job because I thought staying home with my children would bring me happiness or was my ultimate calling as a woman. I chose to resign because I was ready for something different and to pursue a graduate degree; it was just not possible for me to do that while working full time and being a full time mom. We made budget adjustments, and I found a part-time job to make this change work. I did not envision my ultimate goal to be a stay at home mom. (What my ultimate goal is I’m not so sure, but I’m working towards it.) So, when we are having a bad day at home, and some one says to me, “But it’s such a blessing for you to be at home,” a litany of not so nice things run through my head, so I bite my tongue and say, “yes.” When in reality, the speaker has no one idea what they are talking about, nor what’s behind my frustration, nor did they bother to find out, they basically told me to quit complaining and just be happy. But you know what, I’m not happy about it all the time; I’m often frustrated because I can’t hear my own thoughts to think straight enough to navigate a way out of my frustration. If I have a day that’s too much for me and I show any type of sadness, Elise gets this look of devastation and burst into tears, so I have to keep everything I am trying to sort out to myself which just makes everything worse. It is antithetical to my normal way of talking out my problems.
We’ve dealt with the common transition problems and learning to share mom and dad’s attention, and most days Elise is great. But when there’s a bad day; it’s a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” Sleep deprivation is the major culprit in all this (for me, Elise, and Maggie); us McClellan girls need sleep or we are not very nice. But Elise has also started asking questions about her birth family that we did not think we would be experiencing yet.
We welcome these questions and answer honestly, and if we don’t know, we say we don’t know. We don’t make something up. It’s not a problem that Elise has these questions; it’s just another thing we are juggling as parents. But it makes me wonder if leaving Elise for three nights while we were at the hospital brought everything we’ve been talking about into perspective. Elise asked a lot of questions while I was pregnant, and we read through her adoption story a lot. But she hadn’t started putting things together until this summer after Maggie was born. The other day Elise even said, “I was in the money place and then you came and got me.” You mean the orphanage? Where does she get this stuff? The money place?
Needless to say, we have a lot going on. We all went through a lot of changes at once, and we all didn’t like it. I do think we are almost to our new normal and getting a “handle” of things (until Maggie wakes up at 4:45 am three days in a row – not cool Maggie). Which brings to mind another phrase, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Yes, he will! Isn’t that the point? You’re not supposed to do it on your own. So, please don’t say that phrase to me. If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything – that would be better than a tritely used Christian phrase.
Sincerely, a tired full time mom, part time graduate student, and part time assistant who lives with two blessings