Tuesday, April 24, 2012

In Chicago without Leaving Home

We're in Chicago for a few days, just Corbin and me, a welcome break from "normal" life. I just read John Grisham's book, Ford County, on the plane here. Like most fiction readers, I love Grisham's writings. I appreciate his legal insights as I'm married to this attorney husband of mine, and I like the way his stories eek out a scandal and then tie it all up in the end. For the record, I think Ford County is quite different from his typical writing. I still adore Grisham, but these short stories don't resolve.

One of the stories centers around a character who, basically, endures a midlife crisis and leaves his business, his wife, his daughters, and his "life" as he escapes to the island life. The end. He leaves everything behind, and somehow manages to find satisfaction in hammocks and frozen drinks with his toes in the sand.


I kind of only appreciate literary characters I can relate to. At least a little. This one's got NUTHIN.
I'm so sure - leave behind all your family, difficult relationships, failing business, in one fail swoop, and then find contentment in a lonely, hidden-away existence?

We flew into Chicago last Saturday during of one of my son's baseball tournaments. Corbin and I received texts throughout the day and then into Sunday - 4 games' worth - of my son's dismal tournament play. And I mean dismal. I don't get it. And I can promise you that I hurt more than he does. Like, couldn't-sleep-well kind of hurt. Because it's more than just a few games, of course. Throw in his confidence, his love for the game, his fears of not being "good enough," and it's enough to knock a sensitive Momma to the ground.

And then on top of that, add in some pre-adolescent behavior, which is totally keeping me on my toes (when I'm not on my knees), combined with that strong personality of his, and yikes - it's the perfect storm for feeling overwhelmed with this whole parenting thing. And that's just ONE of our kiddos. Plenty to keep my prayer / gratitude journal overflowing (gratitude - what a gift, thank you Ann for teaching me to be grateful in the difficult, unwanted things).

So here I am, sharing a deep-dish Giordino's pizza, hitting nearly every shop on Michigan Ave (not kidding, my husband can totally out-shop me), looking at the Navy Pier from my hotel room window, shopping for American Girl doll accessories to take home to my girls, eating waaaay to much food at these incredible restaurants, and yet my mind hasn't wandered an inch from the issues with my son all the way back in Texas. I'm trying hard, but my I'm simultaneously enjoying Chicago with Corbin while grieving some things back at home (no, not just baseball, though that'd be enough!).

I know Grisham has kids. That he knows parenting. I cannot, cannot relate to his midlife-crisis character, though. You'd never really leave it all, even if you wanted. Heck, I can't leave it for three days. But God is so good to remind me of a few things in my time here:

- The distance makes it easier to THINK before talking with my son about some of these issues. Takes away the emotional fuel, giving me a little more level-head in making some plans with him.
- I'm not there, so God has to show up. I've given him over to the Lord many times before, this is simply another opportunity. As my mom once said about me,"Lord, he was yours before he was mine, and he'll be yours after he's mine." I'm reminded that God cares for and loves my children more than I ever could. I can trust Him.
- That I married a fantastic man to walk through parenting with, one who loves his children dearly, and is able to see things clearly without getting too entangled in emotions.
- Cappy's mantra, which has become one of mine, "God loves us just the way we are, but loves us too much to let us stay where we are."

Finally, a quote from CS Lewis that I'm reminded of this week, one that describes me pretty well:
"Our whole being by its very nature is one vast need; incomplete, preparatory, empty yet cluttered, crying out for Him who can untie things that are now knotted together and tie up things that are still dangling loose."
Praise God that He is able to meet my neediness, and that He chooses to do so. Praise Him that He loves us, is constantly changing and growing us, and will NOT let us escape - with contentment - to a remote island. And that includes my boy!