Tuesday, August 3, 2010

"To Be a Parent

is to have your heart walk around outside your body". (one of my mom's favorite quotes)

I never really had the urge to be a mother until it happened. I never dreamed of having babies - I simply didn't have much experience with children or babies. To say I fell into nurturing through instinct describes my experience perfectly.

Occasionally, tragedies will happen in which it's easy for me to place myself in the position of the bereaved. I will not arrogantly say that I can relate or comprehend, as I've never fully grieved for anyone or anything. I'm simply remarking that I can try to imagine how I'd feel in the event of a tragic loss.

There are events that "hit me hard". This morning the phone rang with a man hoping to talk to Rob [about finances]. He recently lost his wife in a random accident and is trying to pick up the pieces left behind. They have three children that are similarly aged to ours and he is now left to parent, to run the household, to deal with finances, and basically - to be two people in one body. I have never personally met him, but our cabins are less than 200 feet away, and coincidentally they live less than five miles away.

To say he sounded lost would be an understatement. It was a simple task to place our family in their situation. I was in the process of planning meals [for next week] because I'll be in California with my mom and sister. I take great pride (too much, probably) in taking caring of my family. I honestly feel like this have been granted to me as my purpose in life. I know this sounds simple and maybe I'm selling myself short, but at this time in my life, I believe my purpose is to serve my husband and help him raise our children.

The last time we visited the cabin, we left our kids to the care of my in-laws so we could return for a quiet weekend at home. When we left, the kids were fishing - it was hot and buggy and they were sweaty and dirty. I know it sounds silly, but it was hard for me to leave them like that. I knew that no one would take care of them in the way that I could have. I would have made sure they had enough to drink, that they showered and put clean clothes on and were properly tucked in before bed. Please don't misunderstand - my in-laws take great care of our kids - it's just hard for me to leave the nurturing to someone else.

I think that's what "hit me hard" after the phone call this morning. I can't stop thinking that it must be devastating to lose the nurturer of a family. I know that the father will do his best, but he can't be everything. I was sobered by his tone of voice and just kept thinking of how Rob would be in the situation. I know he would do his best - but he can't be a mother.

In a completely different situation this week, two lives were irrevocably changed. A fifteen-year old shot and killed a 28 year-old law student after a botched robbery (here in York). I don't know the families involved, but details have been outlined in the local paper. The articles described the fifteen-year old as a child who'd lived with various relatives in different parts of the county. The paper certainly didn't specify, but I wonder if he did lack the support/discipline of a cohesive family unit. I have read statistics that offer the lack of paternal involvement as a link between felons in prison. I remember seeing a National Geographic program on some rogue juvenile elephants in South Africa. Apparently, the elephants had been relocated to a park and were left to roam. They basically were like unsupervised teenage boys. Their behavior was predatory, mischievous, and out of control. The park decided to "import" some mature males and the problems disappeared.

In my very limited experience, I realize how much my children need their father. They respond immediately to his discipline. The respect and fear him. If I were left to parent by myself I would do my best - but I could never be a father.

Please don't be offended with my discussion. This is not meant to be a commentary on inner-city challenges or a judgement on broken families. I realize that some of you who read my thoughts are from single-parent families - or you've suffered great loss. I am simply struck by the importance of co-parenting. I am in awe of how God created families to work as a perfect model for raising children - and in turn, sustaining a functional society. Obviously, brokenness can't always be avoided. I'd like to think that in my realizations today I will become a better parent. I will be thankful to have the opportunity to nurture and to serve. I will work to the best of my ability to accomplish my God-given purpose on the Earth.


  1. Kirsten, I always love reading your well-written thoughts and cant help but find my self whole-hearted agreeing with you and nodding my head as I read along.
    I feel so blessed to be the product of a cohesive family unit (as does my husband) and love that we can provide that for our boys!

  2. Jen - you are too kind - really.
    I think God uses the tragedies [we observe in other's lives] to remind us how much we have to be thankful for. I appreciate the change in perspective and count it as a "wake-up call".
    Your love for your husband and boys is very evident - yes, we have so much to be grateful for!

  3. It always makes me feel good to hear another mom say what I feel. I've spent much of my adulthood feeling like people have questioned my choice to be a fulltime mommy. After all, I have a master's degree, I was a pretty committed feminist in college, etc. But, I love what I do. And it is MY choice to do it. I am so blessed to be able to be here fully for my family. I love to nurture my kids and strive to nurture my husband, although I know I give the kids more of myself than I do him. I share your pride in having a safe, relatively clean house....in providing relatively healthy food...and in always making sure they know they are loved and treasured. And by the way, I completely know what you mean re: your feeling about leaving them w/your inlaws when they were dirty!

  4. So sad. So true.

    I like that picture of your family at the bottom.

  5. Kathy-
    you're a terrific mom, and I'm sure your former career taught you how to serve!
    Thanks for understanding my neurotic feelings about leaving kids dirty! I'm sure no one would question your decision to stay home full-time when they see how your children are thriving-
    I so admire your decision to have another baby...

  6. Marion-
    Thanks! I'm not a very good photographer, but sometimes a few turn out kinda cool!