It just makes me sick. Sick I tell you. So much so that I could totally throw up right now. Except for the fact that it would require me to get out of bed, and I am enjoying my Saturday morning "I'm not getting out of bed yet because there is nothing going on that I need to hurry up and run around like a crazy person to rush myself and/or the children out the door for" experience. Vince is already up and gone. He has a ministry head meeting today at church, which hopefully they will bring their bodies to as well because having a meeting with just a bunch of heads might be awkward. What if someone has to go to the bathroom?
It's SO fun inside my head sometimes.
Anyway, back to the thing that is making me sick. I am enjoying reading my favorite blogs this morning, propped up in bed with the windows behind me open to a most gorgeous Minnesota day! We don't get them that often, so we have to enjoy them when we can. There are about 6 days a year, maybe 7 if we are really lucky, where it's not too hot or too cold or too humid or too windy or too buggy or too icey to enjoy the outdoors, and today appears to be one of them, so yay!! I'm happy already. We will be outside all day today at our summer home...the baseball field just around the corner from our house. Nick and Kyle basically live there all summer and consequently so do I. Between practices and games and tournaments, we are there 5-7 days a week from May - August. I'll be working the consession stand for a couple hours today during the boys' tournament, which I actually love doing because of all the social...I get to talk to everyone coming up for hotdogs and nachos and hopefully some walking tacos cause those are all kinds of awesome! I'll be sitting around with the other parents, talking and laughing and cheering our boys on, while our children run amuck and I'm getting my pink freezy fix.
The thing that is making me sick is not what you think. I have no idea what you are thinking really, but I'm pretty sure it's not that. It's actually a good thing. It's a blog that I love to read and am inspired by...a perfect family. And when I say perfect, I do mean perfect. They are drop dead gorgeous, every one of them. The mom, the dad, and every one of their 7 children look like models. Seriously. They live in the country and are always doing special, unique and creative things together as the mom photographs all these moments with her Canon 40D. Sigh. The kids are always smiling and the mom frequently talks about how well all of her children get along, as evidenced by the pictures of the older siblings helping and holding and loving on the younger ones. Boys with arms around eachother. Children looking adoringly at their mother. Her last post was about how she makes her children's clothes. Makes them, as in with a sewing machine and fabric and everything. They are not rich, they don't even have central air or even watch tv. And the best part of their lives? Their faith, and humility, and gratitude. It's genuine, which is what attracts me to their blog in the first place.
I know what you are thinking. This time I really do, because I'm thinking the same thing...no family is perfect. And I shouldn't be coveting what others have, I should focus instead on the blessings that God has poured out on us, on my own family, and stop comparing.
I do do that (do do?) Really, I do. I know how blessed we are - Vince and I - to have found eachother and created a life together after going through the losses of our former spouses and surviving the fracturing of our families. We are living our second chance, and our children are reaping the benefits of that as well. It doesn't always feel like a blessing though, especially when the kids are battling their own demons...trying to get along, trying to find their place in this new family as they learn how to reconcile "what was" with "what is". Trying to love their stepparents while remaining loyal to their "real" ones. It's not easy for any of us and sometimes I fall back into the trap of wanting the perfect family. Where the kids are happy all the time, they feel loved all the time, they never feel the need to be jealous of eachother and I never feel like I'm failing them.
So this other blog with their picture perfect life doesn't really make me sick. It makes me sad. Because that is what I have always wanted since I was a little girl. It's what I tried desperately to create in my first marriage, but failed. And it's what Vince and I have been trying to create with our blending family, one that sometimes feels like we are living in a blender set on "pulverize" and someone forgot to put on the lid.
But God, through all the challenges, is teaching me to go beyond learning how to accept change, which He has been working so hard with me on for so long. Now He's taking me a step further and teaching me to accept reality. The reality that no one and no family is perfect, and I need to stop comparing my blessings with others', or what I perceive them to be. God is doing a new thing in all of us, and two years into it I have to remember it still really is a very new thing.
God does not want perfection, He desires progress. I heard that recently, and it makes me take a big deep breath of relief. I'm not a perfectionist in every area of my life, but I am quite hard on myself when it comes to my family. I desperately want to do things right. I have alot of guilt over putting my kids through a divorce, even though it was not my choice. I see what it has done to them and try as I do, I can't heal their wounds. I also have alot of guilt over Vince's kids moving to a new community and leaving their friends behind and the pain that has caused them.
Yet, I see in all of this the hands of God working. Sometimes - often times - He does His best work in our suffering. When ties are broken and we experience loss, He can bring healing that could not be experienced any other way. And He can create new things as He gently helps us let go of the old. I need to let go of my expectations of a perfect family, and recognize anew all of the many blessings and miracles that He has done and continues to do in our family. With all of our imperfections and stumbling, we are walking this new path together...each step becoming more sure than the last as we climb the mountains and walk the valleys. We are learning to link arms and support eachother along the way. We are learning to fix our eyes on Jesus, our Guide. And I am learning that beauty does not come from homemade clothes and pictures on a blog. It comes from looking at our lives through our own lenses, not someone else's, and seeing beauty.
Because it is here.