Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Being A Romantic.


By Romantic, I am not referring to romantic love or wooing someone. I'm not talking about scented candles or red roses or boxes of chocolates. I am referring to being fanciful, impractical, and unrealistic. As in having romantic ideas. Another definition looks at is as being imbued with or dominated by idealism, a desire for adventure, chivalry, etc.

Being a romantic can be a wonderful thing. You enjoy movies and books in an intense way... you often find yourself personally relating to the characters. You can have creative ideas and ways of expressing yourself and your emotions. That's nice. (said in "Shirley voice" from Community)

But the downfall is this... when your idea of how life should be doesn't measure up to reality. When you create unrealistic expectations, goals, to do lists, etc. When you think every event, holiday, moment should live up to the "ideal".

Now those of you who know me personally aren't startled by this... one friend was surprised recently at my just discovering this about myself now.

I'm the kind of person who has these ideas of how life should be. I love traditions. I love doing everything to the fullest. And I tend to freak out if it doesn't happen the way I think "it should go!!!!"

E.G. I wanted to go strawberry picking this spring as a family. It didn't happen this year. Thankfully I'm much better than I used to be. I was able to shrug it off. But this is my vision:
The kids all dressed in color coordinated outfits with cute little baskets in hand and me snapping shots of them, drinking in the sunshine, and strawberry juice staining their lips and cheeks. After a time of picking strawberries we would then go on a family picnic and then later end the day with home-made strawberry shortcake.

Doesn't that sound lovely? Yeah, but not realistic. It would probably have ended up being more like squished strawberries on everyones shoes and kids throwing dirt at each other. Kids getting hot, tired, cranky. Mike trying hard to please me and I'm frustrated because someone needs to go potty and there's nowhere to go. And the strawberries are crushed because they put too many in their container. And someone whining about being tired or when are we going to go home or how they're thirsty. And we'd come home and I'd find that most of the strawberries are not even ripe and a lot of them are green.

Okay, maybe not that dramatic. But I'm trying to create a vivid picture.

Sometimes I'm more in love with the idea of something than the thing itself.

It's the idea of creating Christmas memories. Getting the tree. Adding decorations. The fragrant pine branches. The excitement of hot cocoa and ornaments. And come what may it WILL be cute, beautiful, precious, meaningful. Thank God for pictures. They don't require sound. You can't hear the noise and chaos. The whining. The elbowing. The rest of the house in disarray. It's this illusion of peace, beauty, and perfection that I want to create. That's dangerous. Illusions are very dangerous things.

I can love order more than I can love a moment to teach my children in the midst of a "painted room".

I can get angry with my kids if they don't "perform" how I want them to.

I have been a director as long as I can remember. Ask my cousin Sharon. She can tell you. I would direct her and her siblings (my other cousins) and my sister and brother and I would dress them up and tell them what to do and how to play their part of a skit or a play that of course I had created.

I can do the same with my family now. I don't even realize I'm doing it. I just simply tell them what to do, where to stand, what to wear, how to act. "Here, play this role. You are the happy child who is loving this holiday event or this special occasion and your heart is brimming with gratitude and love and affection for your family and especially your siblings."

This idealism has played out more than just in wanting specific moments or memories... but even in wanting my family a certain way. I used to really want to have another girl. I wanted Libby to have a sister. I loved having a sister. It was important and meaningful to me that Libby (my daughter) would understand what a sister was and how significant that relationship was. I think I wanted her to somehow understand what I lost when my sister, Libby, died. I wanted her to "get it."

Oh how sad.

I think I would have been in a horrible position of making Libby have to always get along with her sister (if she had one). I would have rubbed in her face, "At least you have a sister." Yuck, how awful!

She was not meant to live my life. I'm not going to force my child to appreciate something she has... or for me to resent her for having what I've lost.

I've been blessed instead to have ONE girl... and four boys. It's different than I would have thought I wanted. Thankfully God didn't give me what I wanted. He gave me what I needed. He knew I would need Samuel, Ian, Michael & Peter. AND in addition he blessed me with my niece, Madison. A beautiful little girl I love with all my heart who I have the pleasure of buying clothes and shoes for her. Whose nails I get to paint. Whose girlie noises I love.

Libby is more than enough girl for me! I love her. She's emotional and dramatic and expressive and thoughtful. She likes order and she likes pleasing people. She is a "mini-me".

The romantic in me... would covet her having a sister. I covet other people who have sisters. But I'm learning more and more to be thankful that I did have a sister. I don't get to talk or see her now but I will someday in Heaven. One day this will pass. And in the meantime I've been very blessed with very dear friends. Friends who in many ways are like sisters to me.

So that was a very lengthy ramble. All of it say... I'm glad I am learning about myself... that I have romantic tendencies that I need to fight... or at least invite reality in... and other's perspectives.

Life isn't perfect. It won't be again until the New Heavens and the New Earth... until I'm with Jesus face to face. My family isn't perfect. My traditions, memories, holidays, moments, events are not going to be ideal. And it's more than okay. It's good. It points me back to my need for a Saviour. And I can savor the good that does happen. I can enjoy time with my family without having to "direct" and "create" an illusion. I can love it for the imperfections instead of merely "in spite of" them.

Let me leave you with this. Libby and I were spending time together on Friday. It was fun. Or at least I thought it was fun. We were getting to do things together. She was starting to get whiney and ungrateful. I was getting annoyed by that. She and I got caught in the pouring rain. I mean torrential downpour. I had an umbrella and she had a rain poncho but we both ended up soaked. It looked as if people poured buckets of water on us. It was hysterical. We were so wet and soaked. We walked into IHOP (her favorite place) and the hostess told us we looked like ducks. She and I both started giggling. It turned into full blown laughter by the time we were seated.

The whole day turned around unexpectedly by an unplanned downpour. Instead of thinking about how cold, wet and shivering I was... not to mention the mess I looked like... I was able to be thankful that something so unexpected could turn into a blessing. We created a fun memory. It wasn't ideal... but it was life lived with my precious girl and I can enjoy and savor the gift from God she is.

2 comments:

Rebekah Judd said...

Love this post, Jennifer. I think it happens all the time in my parenting, too. I imagine the perfect scenario and get frustrated and miss the fun and beautiful scenario that is happening right in front us. May we both enjoy what God has given us right now...and love every minute of it!

Jessica Rockey said...

Oh my... thanks for painting such a vivd and true picture with your words! I struggle with how things 'should be' according to my imagination... vs. well... REALITY... also. I'm sure this comes as no surprise;)

Learning to find the beauty and 'romance' amiss the chaos and reality of life with little ones is one of my biggest challenges ... but I'm getting better at it:)

What a timely reminder. Thanks friend:)

P.S. Thanks for you beautiful comment on my blog. It's not offensive or out of line at all. It's a beautiful picture of the reality that your sister is THERE... and it brings comfort to my heart to think that she welcomed my little babies when they got there.
Love you friend.