My Best Birthday Gift

The best gift my husband has ever given me, and our kids for that matter, is time away all by myself.  He and I both run into a lot of people who think this is crazy.  He has even had to sort out the feelings of rejection that my need for time alone has implied to him.  But, every single time I have taken space from daily life I have come back a better, new and a more fun, life-giving person.  Every time he has been grateful for the “new me.”

Do you ever find yourself hanging onto an item and after several interruptions, requests, mediations, demands, you look down at your hand and realize you have no idea why you are hanging onto it?

For me, getting away alone gives me the space and silence I need to recognize things I picked up somewhere and forgot to put down.  Unforgiveness is one I seem to gravitate toward, and usually over silly things I’d quickly forgotten about.  Responsibility that isn’t mine is another.  Anxiety and worry.  Unmet expectations – expectations that really shouldn’t be held up in the first place.  Disappointments, usually related to expectations, but also in myself, my children, my husband, friendships… disappointment is a pretty aggressive weed in my life. There seems to be so much I can be disappointed about!  Failure – even imagined failures!  Fear and self-consciousness tend to get clumped together in one fist pretty often too.

Getting away, settling into a space of complete silence and empty of people, highlights these things for me.  It opens doors for release, where I can let go and get rid of these things I somehow picked up and forgot to set down.  Being alone, a few days uninterrupted, gives me the time to remember what I’m holding.

And then, THEN, once these things are gone and my hands are free again I find the capacity to truly worship, to lift up emptiness for being filled with what inspires life.  Being emptied of myself, of all the trash I keep gravitating toward, even unintentionally at times, opens up room within me to receive all the good things God intends.  In the emptiness I recognize there is no condemnation, no rejection, no refusal.  In the emptiness I regain vision of what is truly amazing, and I have the room to ask for and receive it.

Getting away alone means I empty out all the trash and fill up with all the joy, hope, peace, refreshment, life, beauty, wonder, compassion, mercy, hope, empathy, respect, awe, availability and fun I can hold.

Getting away alone means I come back a different person.  Clean and free and full of good things to dole out to my husband, children and into friendships.  If we can only give from what we have, then getting away alone is absolutely the best possible gift I could receive.


Boys Are So Very Different From Girls.

So, I do realize that there are girls who love to get dirty and do a lot of things traditionally considered as masculine, and that there are boys who are quiet and reserved… but in the past few days, while we have been able to spend time with a family raising only girls, I have seen a startling large difference between my boys, my daughter and their girls…

My sons pick up sticks and immediately they are weapons; my daughter and her friends pick up sticks and immediately draw pictures in the sand.

My sons find bugs and want to dissect them, the girls run screaming, but then plead for the bugs’ lives.

My sons growl and throw a punch to express positive emotions, the girls whisper “I love you” and ask for a cuddle.

My daughter and her friends ask how they can help out when I am in the kitchen getting lunch; my boys grow increasingly more crabby the hungrier they become, and display it in wrestling, punching and shouting matches.

The girls want to build sand castles and have whole worlds of imagined life going on; my boys want to smash their castles and see who can drag the heaviest piece of drift wood the farthest.

My sons eat their weight in waffles at breakfast, the girls stop at one, even with the offer of more whipped cream.

The girls want to set up forts and find secret hide-outs to turn into homes; my sons turn hangers into bows and imaginary arrows and try to attack and plunder

The girls giggle after lights out, and sing songs and whisper; the boys have farting competitions and have to be asked to be quieter.

I have nodded politely when moms of only girls tell me, “oh, I understand what you mean about active and noisy, my girls are abnormally active and noisy!”  But, when my friends who are only raising girls remark on the differences between their girls and my boys, I know that the differences I see are very very real.  And, I feel extremely fortunate to be raising both!