Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Father love, part 2: Care-freedom

Tuesday nights a few friends and I meet at this Filipina-owned coffee shop to talk, laugh, read, think, and pray for each other. (We also like to venture bizarre guesses on the mysterious ingredients of the day's Halo Halo, a Filipino dessert that I think represents the randomness of our group.)

Tonight I drove home from this time worrying, of all things, about worrying.

It's just that we were chewing on this story where Jesus was telling people to
cut out all the worrying about food, clothes and stuff--you know, the things that give us our security. I can assure you, I am above all that. In fact, because I have all that stuff in excess, it leaves me plenty of time to worry about what really gives me security--like what people think of me. And realizing, despite all these years of trying to kick the habit, how much I worry about others' esteem--I don't know, I guess I got to worrying about it.

Which brings me to what else I love about my little girls. They don't worry.

Did I mention that these things I love about my children can also threaten my sanity? Brielle, for instance, does not worry that dragging her Cinderella castle with accessories into the hall may cause death or dismemberment to passers-by. Melía does not worry about how her postponing of bedtime decreases our sleep, impairing white blood cells' immune response. Ashlyn does not worry that Play-Doh seeds sown across the carpet dry and must be harvested, or that ceramic wise men do not bounce, or that string that goes in one end of the GI tract will--with some gentle tugging--come out the other.

They are free from caring about these things, liberated from the burden of tomorrow, the "what-if's" that rob mature adults of sleep, of peace, of life. This care-freedom opens up worlds of possibility for what they
do care about at each moment.

Brielle, pure from concerns that our home will be mistaken for a landfill, brings out toy after toy to help her sisters stay busy and engaged.

Melía, free from care about our getting to work on time, stops us to ask, "Mommy, are lou ha-ee?" ("Yes, sweetie, I
am happy," Mommy replies. "Why didn't I think to ask this?" thinks Daddy.)

Ashlyn, unspoiled by fears about her image (or the limits of the human eardrum), spins wildly around the living room to the music, alternately singing and giggling and hollering at maximum volume, just for the love of sound.

I know, this care-freedom will need to give way to a responsible concern for the impact of one's actions on others, lest these girls go on to threaten the sanity of future friends, teachers, husbands and the international community.

But just for now, let me covet this. Let me regress just enough to remember how it feels to be all about the moment. Pass me down the mixing spoon and let me lick off a dab of the sweet, raw cookie dough of my baby girls' care-freedom.


Questions I'm asking myself:
  • If I admire this so much, how come I so often fight the spontaneity of my family, muttering, "What were you thinking?!?" What fears behind this complaint might be competing with the love?

  • How do we strike a balance between careful planning and care-free, worry-free, in-the-moment living? Is the ideal somewhere in between, or a situation-based approach, with careful planning for some stuff and care-free passion for other stuff?

1 comment:

Lynne said...

Thanks Mike. I laughed a lot over this one. I'd love a lot more of that care-freedom and spontaneity in my life. Maybe we do need to schedule time for it. . .:o\