Sometimes the temptation to run away is overwhelming! To walk out the back door, or less dramatically, to sit down on the sofa and turn the television volume loud enough to drown out the complaints. But just as I prepared to make my big exit I recalled a speaker in church the previous Sunday who had shared some insights on the human impulse to run away from hard situations...and how detrimental that course can be to our lives and our families.
When I was in college at BYU one of the apostles in our church spoke to the student body on the topic of making your house a heaven on Earth. He directed his remarks to everyone, including those who were married, with or without children, those who were single and living alone, and those who were squished into small student apartments with five other roommates. His message was that regardless of personal circumstance, the need to create an atmosphere of peace and love in your home is the same for all of us. The world is loud and messy, and we need to create in our homes a feeling of retreat and sanctuary, a place to get away from it all. He went on to tell us about how there were some years in his early marriage when his obligations at work, school, and church monopolized his time. But each night when he finally made it home his wife and children were waiting for him, having done everything in their power to create a welcoming atmosphere of warmth and love.
I thought about that story this week. I thought about how nice it sometimes sounds to escape my family responsibilities for a chunk of each day and to return home to happy, smiling faces. But my kids are the main event in my life right now, and I'm the one left in charge of making our home a place that feels good. A part of me thinks the apostle's perfect wife and adorable children sound a little too 1950's for my tastes. But the other part of me knows there were a lot of safe, happy families thriving in the 1950's. And in 2011 we stay-at-home-moms enjoy an even greater freedom to pick and choose our own combination of domestic and professional fulfillment. So what's the hang up? I ask myself. Why wasn't our home full of the warm fuzzies this week?
A friend recently told me that when she only had one child she used to drop her at a neighbor's house before she went grocery shopping or ran errands. She laughed. I have three kids now, and it's ridiculous to think of leaving them somewhere while I do errands. I guess the more kids you have, the more you realize you just do what you have to do. I keenly felt her point. Like it or not, our capacity for work, self-sacrifice, loud chaos, and patience will expand, given time and practice.
Eventually I took my hand of the door knob, kicked off my flip flops, and set down my purse. I'm all in favor of moms getting a break from the kids, but it isn't really a break when you're leaving a smoking mess behind. When you're imagining the walls of your house tumbling down as you glance in the rearview mirror! I'm trying to recognize growing pains for what they are, to sit tight until I feel better, or more capable. Because eventually I will, and I'll be glad that I didn't hop over the back fence and run away whenever the going got rough. Especially then. It doesn't really seem fair, but I'm realizing that it's showing up and hanging in there on the hard days that makes the biggest difference.