Friday, June 22, 2012

Those Moments

From time to time someone will meet me in real life and tell me how much they enjoy reading the blog, and that they love the moments of our life captured here.  Sometimes they will say "Your family is so special." or "My kids never do that."

You know what though?  I honestly don't believe them.  First of all, our family is not special.  We may have been formed differently than some, but we are not special.  Our kids are not special, our life is not special, our family dynamics are not special, and I can 100% guarantee you that the parents in this family are absolutely not special.  "Special" does not equal "Different", and while I'd agree that we are definitely different, I think we are as boring and normal as every family that exists.

So why is it that people occasionally have this reaction after reading the blog for awhile?

I think I am finally beginning to understand it after 5+ years of writing.  This blog is the place where for one family, Those Moments are recorded., and then shared with others who care to read about them.  You know Those Moments, we ALL have them...we just don't all record them.  That's the only difference between our family and yours or any other you know.  It has to be, because we get cranky with each other, we have challenges galore, we live paycheck to paycheck like millions of others do, and as was so funnily pointed out yesterday by one of our children, I say bad words all the time...bad words like "crap" and "butt".  So how perfect can we be??  Even the Mom has a potty mouth! (Thankfully, I have somehow managed to hide my REAL potty mouth which comes out on rare occasions!).

But Those Moments, ahhh...that is what might be different.  My decision to not let the blog fall by the wayside after Kenny's adoption was completed has helped all of us in our family to stop and notice our life together, to value our life together, and it has tuned me in to paying attention to the quiet, not-initially-all-that-important moments that generally happen so quickly that we sometimes don't even register them.

It is Those Moments that every single family has, I am convinced.  We are not special as the LaJoy's, we just recognize them as Those Moments and capture them so we can recall them later.  I sit with them until bedtime, when the house is quiet, and that means I have carried them for hours.  It is that lingering with Those Moments that gives them power for our family, I think.  It is reflecting on them, appreciating them so I can recall them right here, that helps Those Moments have an impact in the lives of the LaJoy family.  Why?  Because sitting with those moments in our minds allows us to be intentional about our gratitude for our life together, however imperfect it is.

We all have them, every single family has Those Moments when the mom and dad look over at one another and silently connect over the heads of their children.  Sadly, we all have the tragic occur, the hope that is clung to, the healing that happens.  Oh, it may be different issues than we face, but we all have our share of Those Moments, for Those Moments are what give life meaning, Those Moments are the ones that make a life a Life.  It's why we so appreciate our families, whether they be connected by love or law, for families come in all sizes and configurations.  A family can be traditional, broken and bandaged, or it can even be a family of choice created by nothing more than friends making a commitment to one another to support and nurture each other in the absence of a more traditional family.  But each family, no matter what it is comprised of, has Those Moments.

Daily I grow ever more thankful that we have managed to have me be a stay at home mom, particularly at this stage in our kids' lives.  Typically, this would be when a family would begin to lose the opportunity for Those Moments, as kids begin to have less time home due to more and more activities outside the home.  Having already lost half a childhood with 3 of our 5, it is ever more precious to us to take advantage of the time we do have left before our chicks leave the nest.  Being home with them, homeschooling, helps.  While it can never "make up for" lost years...lost can help us grab hold of every Moment we can possible have together now.

It also helps me not miss Moments like yesterday, when a passing comment and a conversation over sandwiches might never have been had.  We had a friend of Olesya's staying with us overnight and hanging out with us yesterday, and so trying to keep the conversation moving in ways that were not too family-ish I threw out a question over lunch to start a conversation.  Earlier in the morning I had created a little writing assignment based upon something posted on Facebook that the Dalai Lama had said, and asked the kids to write what their thoughts were about it.  It was based on this:

OK, so I realize this probably isn't your normal school fare, but I try to mix it up now and then, don't laugh at me!  It's better than "What I did on my summer vacation" assignments!!  Well, that conversation led to how wise the Dalai Lama often is in his writings, the truths there that every single person can relate to.  Then somehow the conversation moved on to goodness and honesty, and how our experiences hone us into the people we eventually become.

So it was this assignment that prefaced my question over lunch, and I asked "In your life now or your former life, who is the one person whom you felt was deeply good?".  I expected there to be a ton of hemming and hawing as they considered all those that they knew and did a quick mental assessment.  I even had a couple of ideas in my head of who might be mentioned by specific kids.  I was not at all prepared for the response that came.

Matthew, otherwise known as Mr. Quiet, without a moment's hesitation popped out with "Angela".  What???  Every person's head whipped around and stared at him.  What kid ever names their sister as someone who is "deeply good"?  Angela was so startled by this, as we all were I think, and looked down the table at him as we all waited for an explanation.  I asked "Why do you say that?  What do you see in Angela?"

Matthew said in all seriousness, with no smirking, "She is always thinking about other people, and I can tell that when she grows up she is going to do something special to help other people.  She also has the guts to stand up to people if someone does something bad.  Most of us are too chicken, or would go along with everyone so we wouldn't be made fun of ourselves.  I think Angela is the kind of person who would stand up and tell a bully to knock it off, even if it was scary, where most of us would be too afraid."  He then added "I am not as good in my heart as she is, and I don't think most people are.  I don't think any of us are really bad people, that's not what I am saying, it's just that some people like Angela put other people first while the rest of us put ourselves first.  We'll help if we can, but it isn't our first thought.  For Angela, I think it may be her first thought."

Wow.  No one said a word as we mulled that one over.

Finally, Angela spoke up and said with a bit of shame on her face "I'm different here than I was in Kazakhstan.  In Kazakhstan I was very selfish and I didn't care about anyone.  I was really mean to the other kids sometimes.  I was a bully, and I was even rude to the teachers and thought it was funny.  Even now Mom catches me when I do bad things all the time, when I am not caring to others or am rude."  Then she added "But I am really different in America, and I don't know why.  Only sometimes I act like I used to, but most of the time I am not like that anymore."

Again, there was silence for a bit, then suddenly Kenny's eyes snap up and he blurts out "I know why you are different, Angela!  Because like Mom is always saying "Love Wins".  You couldn't feel love because no one loved you!  We have to learn how to love, at least I did.  Maybe we aren't born knowing how to love, and then when bad things happen we don't get it, but then God puts love in front of us, and then we learn what love is and we don't even want to be that mean person anymore because love feels too good."

Angela, who by this time was deeply moved and blushing said "Well, I think I have the best brothers, they aren't mean like some are who push their sisters around or won't play with them, and have taught me so much since I came home!  You are a very good person inside, most brothers wouldn't have let us tape word cards all over them so we could learn English!  They would have been jealous and mad at having new sisters the same age come into their family.  You have always been very kind and helpful to us, and you never made fun of us ever. I think YOU are very good inside your heart!"  We all laughed at that, as we recalled those early days of learning English and how much fun we all had.

And there, at our kitchen table on a sweltering summer afternoon, we had one of Those Moments.  It's the same kind of thing that happens in other families, the only difference is it is recorded here now, and one day we will all look back and remember that indeed, there were special moments mixed in with the schoolwork and the laundry, between the perpetual Walmart runs and the nagging over cleaning rooms.  It is Those Moments that make all the drudgery and chaos worthwhile.  When I am grumbling loudly over not finding the whisk in the utensil drawer because someone put it in the wrong spot, or when I am talking until I am blue in the face trying to get the kids to keep my van from becoming a total disaster area, it is Those Moments that remind me what we are really doing here, and what is really important.


Anonymous said...

That wasn't written by the Dalai Lama

Anonymous said...

Hi, Cindy!
Thanks for this! I'm one of the ones who think you have an incredibly special family. But I also think you're on to something by talking about your intentionality at keeping Those Moments in front of you and recording them, so you can look back and recall them from time to time.
Lately, I've been reading a lot of comments about how we really can choose the attitudes with which we interpret our lives. You're saying here that you choose to make sure Those Moments stay in your and your family's memories. It makes for a very positive outlook. Continually, when you write here, you celebrate the beauty and the love all of you share. You (all of you) choose to lift up the beauty and the love, so that they are front and center.
Nice blog!
Peace and blessing, Cindy -- to you and to your family!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for reminding us of The Moments. You may be right that consciousness and marking of the moments is one, but not the only one, of the ways your family differs from others. You are alert. Many of us wander through life occasionally surfacing to the moment, like the times we drive home on a familiar route and come home to realize we remember none of the trip. You are re-membering the trip.

We visited a dying friend recently who showed us a piece of paper with a list on it. She had taken all the negatives out of her room, put up her favorite family and friend photos, and still found pain and endless days difficult, so she and her adult kids began to make notes of those funny sometimes dark humored things that happen as one is dying. At the end of each day they would vote on which was the funniest. Living in the moment--thanks for reminding us that that is all we have--this moment.

Love you NOW and hopefully forever (or until I can no longer remember),