Thursday, October 28, 2010

Child rearing and construction....seeing the parallels

Each morning I drop our two eldest off to first grade for the 8:08 bell.  From that point I have a 25 mile commute to my workplace.  We live in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the US.  I know this not only from Wikipedia, but from first hand experience on the roads! 

My dad likes to say there are two seasons in New Jersey.  Winter and Construction - and that when winter is coming, construction moves into full swing.  Commuting in NJ is always interesting.... some days I can arrive at my desk by 8:45am, other days 9:10am all 'depending on the traffic'. 

Recently, I have begun to use the commute time as a meditation time.  Turned off the radio (which never seems to report the traffic I'm in anyway, so why listen!) and talk with God. 

Its helping me to see parenting as a journey, rather than grown children as a destination. Earlier this week my husband and I were talking about the stage our eldest two (age 6) are going through.  First grade has brought big changes. Full school day, new burgeoning friendships,challenges of peer pressure and the manifestation of new fears.  I had the chance to chuckle about a friend who, when I complained about the teething stage, reminded me that "they'll grown out of that stage soon".  She neglected to tell me that one stage is followed quite rapidly by another which is generally more difficult, less clear and which I'm also not prepared for.

When the children were first born, each visit to the pediatrician was met with a form to track their developmental stages.  Were they reaching all those mile markers on time?  Babbling, rolling over, sitting, crawling etc.  Oh how easy those days seem in comparison.  Perhaps it was better that parents with more experience didn't share what this next leg of the journey would entail.  Wisdom shared isn't wisdom learned.  Some of this journey Mark and I have to learn for our selves.

 I find myself being forwarned about the curve ahead but as yet unable to enjoy the vision of what is around the bend.  And whatever the speed limit never seems right to me.  Why can't my daughter realize that being a little girl is a precious time? Why does she want to speed up and be a 'grown up' so fast?  Why does she have to be so dramatic? How come my son won't do the things I know he can do (like put on his uniform on his own) consistently?  Can't he grow up faster?  Why can't he be more serious? I'm seeing myself as the worst of the back seat drivers.  Constantly questioning the route which God has chosen to take me. 

Last weekend we were blessed to spend a weekend in retreat.  One of the topics discussed was heaven and hell and readying myself for judgement.  It would seem like a not so nice topic to some,  but it helped me tremendously. 

One metaphor stuck out - in describing heaven and hell - we were reminded that we build that reality in our daily life with a thousand small decisions.  The metaphor was phrased as the question "where are you placing the bricks God gives you to build with?"In other words, I am given the great gift from God to decide if, by my daily decisions, I will create an earthly hell for myself or build, instead a cathedral which is heaven on earth. 

I've been using my commute to meditate on what God is wanting to teach me through my crew of little bricklayers.  That in each moment, I have a chance to place a brick in heaven by how I respond.  It is a piece of wisdom I'm learning at the moment and I'm grateful.  It also reminds me that God is the chief architect, not me. 

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