My Cup Runneth Over…

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Abundance – My Cup Runneth Over by Sandy Tracey

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/abundance–my-cup-runneth-over-sandy-tracey.html

Well, today is my birthday. Here I am on the cusp of 60. One of my first columns the Pacifica Tribune ran was titled “You’ll Never Be This Young Again”. It was a little reflection upon my imminent fifties. Like that column, this blog is a reflection as I now approach the big 6-0. I woke up early this morning, had a weird dream and couldn’t go back to sleep. Maybe I was excited like when one gets on the night before the first day of school or Christmas Eve or one’s birthday, if you will. 🙂 So with some extra time this morning, I remembered the story of the children of Israel creating a mound of stones as a remembrance of crossing the Jordan River, and I thought I would spend this time remembering and thanking God for the many, many blessings I’ve received these past six decades. Before long, my cup was running over….

The first thing to come to mind was thanking God for my friend, Mary, who invited me to the church where I came to a personal, living knowledge of Jesus Christ.  My whole life’s trajectory changed with that decision. I thanked Him for our church’s drama team, my excursion to Belgium in 1983, my short time at St. Mary’s and my graduation which was a present to my father. I thanked Him for Erma Bombeck whose writing I try to emulate, and my godfather, Phil O’Connor, who inspired and encouraged me to do so. I thanked Him for my ex-husband, and the kids we had together.

I thanked Him for them, and how their lives have enriched, energized and established me. Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:15 that women are saved through childbearing – really, Paul, how medieval – but for me, child rearing has indeed saved me. Saved me from myself and taught me to REALLY love someone else. They have taught me perseverance. I have had to keep at it. And for this dyed-in-the-fur hare, it has been my “salvation” and the means of transforming me into a semi-tortoise, and enabling me to begin to produce something meaningful in my life.

I thanked Him for my job. I’ve never held a job this long. I am amazed. I’ve learned so much, and have had the pleasure to work with some great people.

I thanked Him for my family. For my sister, Linda, who with Mike, got up in the middle of the night many years ago to bring Ricky to the hospital after he and James were jumped. Linda who helped extract me from the dangerous living conditions we were in, and who also listened endlessly as I vented about my problems. I thanked Him for my parents who have always helped me when I needed it. They housed me and my kids for almost ten years. I thanked Him for the sweet Christian school that miraculously took in my six shy little kids and prepared them for a traditional classroom environment, sowing the seeds of their academic success, and for the family member who namelessly, quietly, and generously paid for their first year there.

These are a few of the wonderful things God has done for me. I also thanked Him for the hard times. All the things above have shadows to them. My church was not perfect. My marriage ended. My children are human. My family has its own dynamic. There’s been work drama. There have been many bad times, many hard times. David said in one of his psalms, “It is good that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes…”. And I agree with him. I’ve learned much from my dark times.

But, God causes all things to work for the good, for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose: the tough times, the tender, the trivial, the triumphant and, yes, even, the tragic times. Death, in all its forms, can give birth to sobriety which gives birth to hope which gives birth to faith which gives birth to…..the impossible.

So, as I look upon another decade, Lord willing, I am excited to finish my extended course in motherhood – (legally, of course, because we all know it NEVER ends) – and to see what new things God has in store for me. And I thank Him for all of you who read my blogs and continue to encourage me in my writing.

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”    – John 10:10

 

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Things I Hate About Motherhood

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I love being a mom. Not that I’m really good at it, but I like it. I like my kids, and they give me a lot of laughs and joy. Yet, there are a few things I hate about motherhood that are pretty typical, but was ignorant of when I started the journey. I’m not talking about the labor and delivery, even though that was challenging or even the sleepless nights, what I am talking about are events further down the parenting road.

Fighting

Probably number one on the list is fighting among the kids. They fought when they were little too. I was happy to move into a three bedroom house, then I had enough corners to put them all in.

A characteristic that doesn’t particularly bother me about one kid wreaks havoc on another. Then it becomes a bickerfest. And you’re mad at both, even the whiner. Sometimes just playful banter among them can turn on a dime. My college roommate shared some wisdom from her mother, “Laughing turns to crying!” So true. I hope as they get older, they will learn to be patient with each other. I’m being patient waiting.

Guilt

I don’t think there is any parent that doesn’t feel guilty about how they’ve raised their children. Folks say, “You did the best you could.” Well, not really. I did try, I tried hard. But I don’t think I did my best, I could’ve done better, but I didn’t. But I tried. I get an A for effort. We’ll see how the Lord grades me later on.

Navigating through the teenage years, I’ve had to acquire a skin of armor against the guilt trips from the kids. Kids can make you feel guilty almost as bad as parents or the church. But I’ve come to an age where I stand by my decisions and am courageous defending them. Hopefully, the kids will appreciate the good things.

Letting Go

I didn’t think it would be so hard when the kids flew the nest. Even when the first one left and there were still at least nine in the house, sometimes we had extras, I missed that one.  Each time a child moved on, I was so sad. I worried whether they could make it out in that big bad world. But, they ended up doing OK.

I feel bad for my youngest ones. You see the older ones just had to get use to these  new people coming into the family when the little ones were born; but, the little ones have to watch their siblings leave them. Siblings that they became close to, siblings who were their best friends. I knew it was sad for me, I only realized lately how sad it is for them too.

Aside from the things I hate about Motherhood, the things I love truly outweigh these difficulties. Of all the things I’ve learned while mothering, learning to love and be loved is foremost the best thing.

I Am Not a Clock

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Children, by their very nature, are inquisitive and curious. They are breeders of an endless array of questions. If your child is extroverted, there is a high probability that you are peppered with questions every day. Even the quiet ones lob a few queries your way. Of the myriad of questions a parent may face, some are profound: “How did God make that sunset?”; some are mundane: “Mom, where are my socks?”; some are welcome: “Mom, why are you so beautiful?” (of course, that child is my favorite), and some are not: “Mom, how did Gracie get puppies in her tummy?”  Be prepared to dig deep into your reservoirs of patience, wisdom and perseverance to address them.

However, there is a category of questions that has tried my last nerve: The Unnecessary Questions. Yes, folks, there are some. The crazy-making “are we there yet?”, the mind-numbing, “what’s there to eat?”, and don’t get me started on “how do you spell ‘exasperation’?”. But, the tops in my book is, “Mom, what time is it?” What the heck do I look like, a walking Timex?

Unfortunately, I am probably the one to blame for their incessant and lazy questioning. At the onset of my parenting career, I wanted to be attentive and alert to my kids’ needs. I assisted in everything and felt I was doing them a service by being helpful and addressing the issues they had. If they needed a napkin, I would get up and get one; if they needed a pencil sharpened, I would go sharpen it and if they asked, what appears to be an innocuous question, like “What time is it?”, I happily answered.

Well, it’s time to stop! My children look at an analog clock with expressions ranging from bewilderment to catatonia. When I am asked that infernal question for the umpteenth time, I just point to the clock like the Ghost of Christmas Future pointed to Scrooge’s gravestone. They look at me, shrug their shoulders, (thank heaven, they do not roll their eyes) and repeat the question. I then dart them a look of intense contumely (yes, I used “contumely” and don’t ask how to spell it) that extracts a whimpering, “never mind”. My kids would not know how to tell time if it were not for digital clocks. I know they are taught analog time in school, but my kids must be clock-challenged.

When I was growing up, my sister and I had a blue, plastic grandfather clock bank. It was about two and a half feet tall and stamped on the base were the words, “Tempus Fugit”. Well, time, and many other things, may fly if they ask me that question again.

Next in the series: I Am Not a Garbage Can.