Monday, April 17, 2006

Another Whiney Post, or Why Are You Still Reading This Rubbish?

The first day back from a break is always the worst. It's forcing yourself back into those old, stiff clothes when you've felt so free without them. Not that I'm advocating the nudist lifestyle. Lord knows, I would have no friends as a nudist. Hell, I wouldn't even like myself. But I'll save that old bit of self-loathing for my OA meeting.

Laura and Sophie went back to school today. I know their first days back from break are difficult. I've done both of those first days as student and as teacher. And let me tell you, I don't envy them. But first days after break are hard for us house spouses too. The kids are still in break mode - which includes the attention of two parents rather than one. Daddy struggles to bear with their high-octane emotions and their pitiable breakdowns. I struggle to love them as they are, because I am too busy wanting to be who I think I am. In reality, I am simply Daddy. Why don't I get that? Why can't I rest in that? I am no writer-extraordinaire for whom the world breathlessly awaits publication. The world has writers enough. I do not have fans who lap up my words as kittens lap up cream. I am meowed for by no one.

Except, of course, my children. My children meow for me. They cry for me. I am their daddy. I wish I were creamier, but they still don't know any better. They still think I'm double cream.

And yet I continue to struggle with who I am. Because there is something within me that pulls me Elsewhere, something that thinks I need to be Elsewhere. It's difficult resting in the knowledge that you are a stay-at-home dad when you can't escape feeling as if it is by default alone. It's difficult being a failure in a world that so prizes success. After nearly two years, I still can't reconcile who I am into peace. I love being home with my children, but, at the same time, there is something in me that dies every day my wife leaves for work. I've often wished, as Reb Tevya does, for God to smite me with wealth in order to free me from this too-great strain. But he won't. He's too double-cream.

I wish I knew me.

I wish my feet were more calloused for this road.

I wish all my illicit wishing were drowned in peace.

(The high-octane emotions and the pitiable breakdowns? My kids get it honest.)

9 comments:

Dan said...

Hi Scott,

Time for the truth squad to jump into the discussion. :-) I like something Henri Nouwen relays in a book of his, Reaching Out, where he says, "The Christ in you recognizes the Christ in me." I've heard said someplace else as well that sometimes, the voice of Christ in someone else, is louder than the voice of Christ in me. Well, listen up, because the voice of Christ is going to speak something to you, through me (as bold as that may seem!).

First--you are not a failure! That's something you can never allow yourself to believe. It's an awful, nasty, destructive lie. Take that thought captive to Christ, and let Him utterly destroy it. And every single time that thought assails you, fight it with every fiber of your being!

I can imagine, as a man, that it's difficult for you when your wife leaves for work. It cuts to the core of who we want to be. But, at the same time, I can't help but think that you're home for a reason right now. It's that whole looking through a glass dimly thing. Perhaps there are reasons which you will never know why your children need YOU, and only YOU to be home with them during these formative years. Perhaps the bonding that your son Will is able to have with you right now, on a daily basis, will be fundamental to his becoming fully a man later in life, and perhaps the injection of the love that you can only bring your children as their father will help shape how they view their heavenly Father years down the road, such that they will never turn from Him later. I don't know why, but there IS a reason why you need to be home with your children right now.

Being your children's father is your vocation right now. It is what God has called you to, and you are SUCCEEDING in ways so many father fail. Your children know you love them, that you care for them, that you would sacrifice your own needs and wants for the good of them and your family. You are no failure, but a rousing success!

As to the writing, here's one fan who would lap up any book you'd ever write. The world has plenty of writers, but none with your unique perspective. And most of those writers are full of shit, unlike you, my friend. I'm a big fan of Thomas Merton, and he speaks of how unfortunate it is if we don't see Christ reflected in others. Just as we are all made uniquely in the image of Christ, we all reflect Christ in unique ways that can only be seen through us. I love that! A part of Christ is refected through you in ways that you only, throughout all of history, can reflect him. You, Scott, see Christ in ways that I can never understand unless you share that with me, and that goes for the rest of the world. I've enjoyed seeing that in your blog, and I hope you write a book someday to share more of your unique understanding of God with the world!

I know your struggle to know yourself too, Scott. I don't think I'll ever truly know myself on this earth, but I get closer and closer. I think part of knowing ourselves is celebrating ourselves as creatures of God's making, as hard as that is. I'm glad God made you, Scott! My life is richer for having the amazing blessing of being able to grow up with you. I'll be thanking God for you when we're in heaven together (and I just sent up a thank you right now!). You enrich the lives of all that know you, though it's hard for us to believe that. As cliched as it sounds, it is still the TRUTH that you ARE fearfully and wonderfully made, and God is deserved eternal praise for making YOU!!!!! Christ DELIGHTS in you, and all your squishiness, even more than your kids do.

When I think about the big idea of "Who We Are," I like to think of a passage in Revelations. Here's Rev. 2:17.

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone which no one knows except him who receives it."

For me, this has a lot of meaning. I have so many doubts about who I am, about why I'm here. I just long for clarity. There is power in naming things, and in this case, I envision Christ pulling me aside, giving me a stone tablet, and upon reading it, understanding and complete peace as to who I am will flood over me. To me, it will be a moment where upon hearing that name, I'll say, "Ah...NOW I get it! I understand! That's who I AM!" I think I'll do a little hop skip and a jump too while I'm at it. You have a name, Scott, on a white stone, and that's no sign of failure, but victory over everything! Hold your head high, Scott! You are a child of God. And hey, it can't hurt your standing that you're a friend of mine. :-)

truevyne said...

Dear Scott,
I haven't had a job in 12 years, and I fantasize about working at Kinkos when I'm getting copies made. I could use a cash register, laminate, take passport photos, run copies. I also dreamed about working the desk at my gym and how great that would be- sit in the desk chair, stretch my feet up on the counter and talk to customers as they stream in, "Hi. How are you today Larry. Good, good. Have a great workout." ...then one day last week the owner asked me to work for him. I felt like a deer caught in the headlights. I'm not well suited sitting around. I like to read, write, walk around, plant things in the dirt, watch my children run by the window with the goats trailing behind. Heck no, I'd be inside all day if I had a job like that.

All this is to say, I encourage you to stay on the path to the kind of job you'll love even if it's in the future. Bird by Bird and one day, Thomas Nelson will invite both of us to publish something for them, Right? Okay, at least you. I'll just become the go-to person for children's spiritual formation.

Anonymous said...

Hey man, at least you've got a blog people read!

Naw, you're okay Scott. It's healthy to wish sometimes...it's what keeps us going.

John said...

Hi Scott, you don't know me from Adam. I guess that makes us even. I agree with your previous commenter, the fact that you're a bit discontented by your stay-at-home-dadding isn't news to God. He gave you the ability to do what you're doing when you were still in your mother's womb. Your kids may be the grandparents of the world's next great evangelist for all you know and what spurned them on was their dad's self-sacrifice 'back in the day'. My point is, and I don't mean to be rude here, but, it's not about YOU. We are God's kids and He has graciously allowed us to be part of an awesomely well thought out plan. How cool is that?!
Oh, and by the way, I'm a divorced dad who gets to see my kids about 10 hours a month. What I wouldn't give to stay
home with my kids, not to mention have an incredible talent for writing. :)

Sherry C said...

Scott,

I get these feelings. I get them all the time. Stay-at-home is so much harder--and not just for the work load with no time off--more for the emotional battle.

I think Dan has nailed it in his comment. In fact, I think I will return to this post and re-read Dan's comment whenever I experience these same feelings (perhaps three or four times per week).

He is a good friend for you. When I read the interaction between you and him and Alison, I sometimes wish I had continued to grow up with y'all at LCS. You're good folk.

Back to the topic at hand. As the cowboys in my part of the country say when faced with a difficult and unpleasant task, "Git 'er done!"

Scott said...

I don't even know how to respond here. In humility, I can only offer my sincere thanks to each of you.

Dan - Since third grade you have been a true friend. I treasure your comment and will put it into effect immediately, with God's grace. I thank God for you, my friend.

True - I love to read what you write. I respect how you express yourself just as I respect the heart that you express. Thank you for being true.

Anon - Thanks for permission.

John - You made me understand my blessings more fully. My prayers are with you today. Thank you for your encouragement.

Sherry - Thank you for understanding. Though you were forced to leave us early, we travel together still. I appreciate your continued friendship and encouragement.

Again, thanks.

mckay said...

your kids are getting the best gift: truly knowing their dad. my dad left for work at 5:30am each day and came home around 10pm each night. i never bonded with him and i never really became close with him. it was like trying to talk to a stranger at times. maybe it was his WWII generational makeup keeping him tight lipped, but i think he just didn't want to open up to me.

so what i'm saying is you're doing the right thing, on the right path and giving your kids something wonderful that i envy and still crave.

i'm a divorced working mom and everyday i wish i could stay at home and fill the important role of fulltime parent, daytime playmate, and couch pillow for my son. You've got my dream job.

Anna said...

You are NOT a failure! Don't ever even think that! You are a success! You are a good father, husband, person, Christian, writer and more!
You are a searcher so you may never be content to sit where you are, but as a fellow searcher, we must strive to enjoy our journey.

Julie said...

double cream..classic i hope your in better spirits now....i feel down when i have my "pajama days" i can tell them right from the start where i know that i'll get out of bed and well be in pjs all day and the outside world we'll seem a universe away because i'll be feeding my son near constantly... but those days pass and things get better-- i used to write..but then sigh it jut wasn't working out for me so i deletred a bunch... i totally know the feeling about not wanting to stop being the stay at home.. but wondering if there was something more