Friday, May 11, 2012

Guilt Tripping...

Going Menopausal: Reflections of a 51 Year Old Woman On Her Family, Her Life And Her God

Rambling #2:

It was Christmas 2011. 

We were all home for the holidays, a rarer occurrence than in the past.  It was time to cut down our Christmas tree, a tradition featuring a short drive to a nearby tree farm and the drawing of straws.   Our “adopted” son, Athan, a gift given to us by the mommas of the Greek Orthodox Church, was with us for the day.   We met Athan, or should I say, "Jathan" during our first visit to Camp Agape on the Sandy River.  A camp for families who have a child with cancer, it’s run by their Church with all the love and quirkiness of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” women.   Athan was assigned as my son's buddy.  From the start our girls loved him as a brother and he, having no sister, adopted them as his.  That first year at camp the girls were often asked if he was their brother.  

“Oh, yes.  He is our brother, Jathan” was their dishonest reply.  It was easy; they just added the “J”.

Between college breaks he visits us, spending the night, bonding with my son, the lone boy, attending our church, which leads to lively discussions and cutting down Christmas trees.  With our pioneer DNA it’s been hard to raise my girls as stereotypical girls.  Each is fiercely independent in their own distinct way with strong personalities and unique gifts.  

As we climbed out of Old Agness, our trusty, dented, white Astro van, I vanished into the background becoming ears and eyes and silence.  This often happens with four grown daughters. They have their own relationships with each other apart from me.  I observe their interactions, playful and tomboyish with Athan and my boy in the midst of it yet not quite able to be “sisters.”  They wrestle and romp, run and howl, like puppies.  I hope this never changes. 

The drawing of the straws was added after the year my son had a meltdown over not being able to pick "The Tree".  Being a cancer survivor plus the only boy in our family has definitely shaped him.  He does not like NOT getting his way.  Thus the solution of drawing straws; whoever chose the shortest straw got to pick "The Tree".  One year, my son cheated.  My husband and J4 figured it out and when they confronted him, the then nine year old boy; all hell broke loose.  I love these cherished memories of holidays past.

But this year Athan was with us.  He was given the honor of choosing.  He found "The Tree" and the girls each took turns zipping the saw across the trunk bragging about how strong they were. As we walked back to our van with "The Tree", my grandson and his mommy safely riding on the tree farm's truck back to Old Agness, I asked Athan a seemingly benign question that had been anxiously coming to the service of my brain.
“Athan, do you think I’ve raised my girls to be too independent?”  

My invisible observant mommy self had begun to feel insecure.  

“What have I done?” I thought.  

They have been taught that getting married and having babies is not the only noble profession. But that's what I had been taught. They have gone through college or are in college or are heading to college.  But I never completed college. None of them are married though J1 has a son.   J1 and J2 have had their hearts broken by boys.  By boys, I mean, not men.  They don’t fit into the mold of what a godly woman should be as taught to me by my childhood church and often conservative Christian society/tradition.

Athan responded, “What do you want me to say? That’s a loaded question.”  

He chuckled. Agreeing with him, I tried to take my question back.  But toothpaste can never be put back into the tube, so there it was, that question hanging in the air.
And Athan finally said, “They can be pretty intimidating.”
There it was.  

"I've ruined them for life", I thought.  They’ll never find a partner and live happily ever after.  The devil himself was whispering in my ear.  

"Why do I listen?"  

I find Satan comes to me often with words of deception.  I’ve learned to tell him to scram, but sometimes I forget, for a while.  God is always working in our lives.  He never rests.  My girls are strong and beautiful and full of compassion. God is in them.

Besides, my girls have never had a chance. Not with my female, pioneer DNA encoded deep in each of their cells.  

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