Tag Archives: family

Confessions of a suburb mom

I am not a philanthropist, not a CEO, not a socialite. I’m just a suburb mom, and I have some confessions to make. Frankly, I’m a little tired of the pressure put on our families to succeed and surpass. At what, I don’t know. Our city? The world at large? Whatever this lofty goal is, it’s exhausting. And it’s cramping my style. I have a few bones to pick with suburban culture.IMG_3330

1. I don’t think I should feel embarrassed to walk to the bus stop in my pajamas. We all wear them. And our kids go to school early. None of us moms wake up with make-up on and hair done. Just because I’m not magazine-ready at 7 am, that doesn’t mean I won’t be doing anything today. I don’t even have elementary kids anymore, but this still bothers me. Pajama moms, I salute you! My embarrassment has subsided now because I usually drive my kids to school and no one can see my pajama pants or bed hair from outside the car. I will shower, I promise. I just don’t think I need to impress the other moms who are on their way to work already.

I work. Just later. And sometimes in my pajamas.

2. Swim team is not an essential element to summer. There, I said it. My kids play sports all year, so we like to take the summer off. No competitions, no practices, no schedules. Except for swimming lessons when they were little, of course, because it would be a crime if my kids couldn’t swim. I just wish I didn’t feel the need to explain it. Obviously, the pressure is still getting to me because here I am putting it in a blog. My kids didn’t do swim team. Yet another great American tragedy. They didn’t do cotillion, either. Gasp!

3. I like to do my own housework. I do. It’s a confession because the truly successful suburb moms hire out all their housework. Lawn guy, handyman, dry cleaning, maid service, day care, spa, hair salon, dog groomer, pool guy, nanny, take-out. But not me. I iron. I cook. I dust. I weed. Don’t get me wrong–sometimes I resent it. But mostly, I just resent feeling feeling provincial because I do it. I actually like laundry. You wash it, dry it, fold it, ta-da! Something got accomplished today. Something that can’t be compared to someone else, that will never be discussed because it’s too insignificant. 

4. I’m a soccer mom, but I’m not a soccer mom.  (You know the difference if your kid plays soccer!) I don’t like soccer moms and dads. They are birthed sometime after their kids stop chasing butterflies on the field and before their children actually become skilled. Soccer parents’ behavior gets incrementally worse until their little soccer stars become older teenagers and threaten them into silence. But until that time, moms and dads are screaming at refs and calling fouls they don’t understand. And their kids are learning that life should always treat them fairly and that performing is critical in their relationship to their parents. Hence, the next thing I have to confess.

5. I am so over the competitive spirit of the suburbs. It’s akin to Olympic fever. It amasses intense training, strategy, and celebration, all with a sense of family patriotism and urgency to win now because we might not get another chance. Kids are placed on course to achieve, plain and simple. The future seems to hang in the balance over every event–school, music, sports, manners. Parents pick the kind of college they want their kids to attend, and they plan backwards, all the way into preschool. Every kid must have a sport, an art, a premiere education, a social life, a religious foundation, and a host of extra-curriculars like Boy Scouts, community service, and foreign travel. It’s all good stuff. I’m not arguing that. But unlike the rest of the world, we believe that all of it is essential. And to provide such illustrious opportunities, both father and mother must work themselves to death.

Solution?

No idea, other than move to a farm and try non-schooling. But that would really stress me out. And I draw the line at growing my own food. That’s at least one reason I am a suburb mom.

The Four Loves

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “All the world loves a lover.”DSC_8909

I think that’s true. We, as humans, are obsessed with love: finding love, falling in love, staying in love. Loving children, animals, hobbies, friends, family, God–the list is endless. Although I prefer romantic comedies to action, almost any action movie works for me if there’s a love story imbedded in it.

I suspect that all the issues of the world can be traced back to love or the absence of it.

In February, my C. S. Lewis book club read The Four Loves.

I have four loves in my life (pictured above), and I believe I incorporate all four loves, in a variety of combinations, in the process of loving them, as well as in liking and loving other people.

Although it’s been months since I read this book, the concepts have stuck with me.  So I’m writing about them now. I’m quite impressed by Lewis’ wisdom and perspective on such an over-discussed, misunderstood topic.  I will attempt to comment on each of the four loves, as they occurred to me during my reading. Perhaps you can find some overlapping characteristics surfacing in your life. Maturity is all about introspection and metamorphosis, right? So commence with the enlightenment . . .

AFFECTION (storge)

“Affection can love the unattractive.” (p. 37)

Affection is a type of family love, rooted in meeting needs and keeping the unit tight. It feels threatened by un-needy love because it feels validated through service. It fights against change. In parenting, this accounts for the difficulty in letting go; in friendship or dating relationships, this manifests itself through possessiveness, exclusivity and cliques. Affection, however, is a valuable and completely necessary part of close relationships; its danger is to remain a love entirely on its own.

FRIENDSHIP (phileo)

“Friendship must be about something.” (p. 66)

Friendship is companionship, comradery, unity, and equality. Individuals enjoy one another’s company because they have similar interests. As long as they enjoy and do the same things, they can talk and fellowship together. If the relationship doesn’t involve another type of love, they will cease to be friends if their interests change. Real friendship is all-inclusive; it welcomes others with similar desires and hobbies. It is purposeful and not organic. These descriptions do not in any way demean friendship; they show the depth and value of its character. Friendship is absolutely essential to life. It constitutes the ability to make friends at work, church, and neighborhood. More importantly, it is an important ingredient for keeping a marriage enjoyable for 50 years, or making friends out of siblings. Lewis said it was “as great a love as Eros.” (p. 67)

ROMANCE (eros)

“The real danger seems to me not that the lovers will idolize each other but that they will idolize Eros himself.” (p. 111)

Eros (Venus) was the ancient god of love, particularly passionate love. Obviously, this is a necessary part of marriage, but it is only a part. A good marriage must have all the loves. Passion, however, takes more credit than it deserves and causes more problems than it will admit. Eros is our culture’s chief obsession and perhaps greatest misconception, because romantic love is expected to be passionate and sexual, fueled by biological attraction, infatuation, and conquest at all costs and at all times. The problem with eros is that it is also a needy love, fueled only by the response of the loved. “The god dies or becomes a demon.” (p. 115) Passionate romance has an appetite. It doesn’t run on kindness and patience (that would be the next love), but on lust and fulfillment. Consequently, it leaves idolatry, martyrdom, and brokenness in its wake. What should you do when romance dies, but you are determined to stick? (a good decision, if you’re married)–Lewis says, “We must do the work of Eros when Eros is not present.” (p. 113)

CHARITY (agape)

“Natural loves are a rival to the love of God.” (p. 118)

“Do not let your happiness depend upon something you may lose.” (p. 120)

Charity is the love of 1 Cor. 13, the text of wedding ceremonies. It gives. It waits patiently. It doesn’t envy, resent, or say “I told you so.” It’s the love we aspire to have. Naturally, charity, or agape in the Greek, is the word used for the love God shows to us. Like any of the other loves, it has dangers: it requires sacrifice and suffering. It is extremely intentional. The Bible considers the other loves as “hatred” when compared with this baby. Like affection, it can love the unlovely. Like friendship, it is absolutely necessary. Unlike eros, it will never cease or be selfish. But together, the 4 loves will complete any person, and certainly any marriage. Lewis explained, “The natural loves are summoned to become modes of Charity while also remaining the natural loves they were.” (p. 135)

So think about the way you love and the people you love. But here’s a wise perspective–“The only place outside of Heaven where you can be safe from all the perturbations of love is Hell.” (p. 121)

Charity is the love of God.