Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I love everybody who loves my kids

Thinking back through the holidays, I'm realizing I pretty much only like to be with people who like to be with my children.

I really hope that friends I had in the BC (Before Children) years did not have such a narrow focus, because before I had a child, I did not like anyone's children. I was not even that hot on the childhood version of myself and my brothers. While others idealized the innocence of childhood, I remembered being cruel, narcissistic, insensitive and judgmental. (Really, I was
even worse in these areas then than now!)

So if you don't like being with my children, or anyone's children, and are just reading this to enhance whatever method of birth control you're currently employing, please, feel ye not bad. You've got sympathy here, my brother/sister. From there, only by the grace of God (and the instincts of parenthood) have come I.

It's just that, reviewing December, the common thread of all the people I really loved hanging out with was a genuine affection for my little girls. I never imagined myself choosing friends based on who my kids clicked with, and while that does happen, it's not what I'm talking about. I simply like all people--big or small, young or old, rich or poor, red, brown, yellow, black or white--who realize that Brielle, Melía and Ashlyn are priceless princess gifts from God, and who treat them as such. People like this are the Chosen Ones who get it, who've seen the Light, who stand in right relationship to the Truth that my girls RULE!

Can I get a witness?

No, but there really is a sort of religious fanaticism to this litmus test. Dig my daughters and you pass--well done thou good and faithful servant; here's your harp. Everyone else, weeping and gnashing of teeth for you; here's your accordion.

At first this seemed analogous to God's insistence that we love His Son, the whole "No man comes to the Father but by me" thing, which some Christians love to quote to prove that we are the only ones God really likes. (A strikingly effective way to endear people to the faith, don't you think?) And from that angle I didn't really like God or myself very much. Being so infatuated with one's begotten (even if it is the Only Begotten) that you doom all non-fans of the begotten to second-rate friendship or eternal alienation just didn't seem to be what Jesus would do.

But maybe that is the wrong angle. Maybe God's fatherly fixation is more on people loving His children--all umpteen billion of them who've ever lived. Loving Jesus is great, because it betters our odds of finding love for the Father. But surely God is more self-secure than I am and has less of a compulsive need than I do for folks to love his child.

Perhaps God and I are more alike in this way: We both have invested a lot of blood, sweat and tears in each one of our kids, and anyone who treats them as less valuable than we see them to be just doesn't fit in. We're both kind of nutty about our children;
through the screaming and snot and poop, we see this beautiful perfection, this image of God, which may be more fantasy than reality. But we're passionate about that fantasy, and remember, we're nuts enough to believe that it might be real. And the more we get into our kids--the more that we give of ourselves to enrich them and show them love--the more fanatical we become about other people seeing them as we do.

Or, maybe it's just that I feel more comfortable around people who don't mind a half-full potty being brought out into the living room. I don't know.

But I do know this. My girls RULE. (Can I get an "Amen"?)


Questions I'm asking myself:

- How can I transfer my generous Dad's eye view of my kids to some of God's snotty, poopy, screaming adult children of whom I take a more dim view?

- Why are some people able to have so much love for children without having had their own, while others, like me, don't find that love until they are parents themselves?


Lynne said...

Your musings are a great challenge to see all people through God's eyes. I can definitely relate to your feelings of not appreciating children until you had your own. Even with my own I was never one of those "baby worshippers" even though the love I've felt for my kids is stronger than death. I agree, your girls RULE (I'm sure the boys will agree in a few years) and I say the same for my offspring. The challenge is to never waiver in that belief when they grow up and maybe make decisions that totally throw you off balance. Then they suddenly begin moving into that category of the "snotty, poopy, screaming adult children of whom we take a more dim view." But we still love them, desperately, and along the way it begins to dawn upon us that God's ways are far above our ways. We remember that if we read the Bible we find that God did some pretty unexpected (and sometimes downright off the wall) things to ultimately bring about His purposes in the lives of people. So the question I ask myself is - might the thing I have struggled with so much actually be the avenue God chooses to bring about something beautiful? I am being taught to not only be comfortable with a half-full potty in the living room, but to see it as evidence that however stinky it may be, my child is functioning normally - and that is a very good thing. Amen!

Michael J. Bennie said...

Thanks, Lynne, for connecting the dots between now and two decades from now. In many ways, I can see how it will take even more grace to love in the presence of the larger-scale stinkies that grown kids are capable of producing. Your wisdom is valuable, and beautifully expressed. BTW, about the time when the boys decide my girls rule, I'll be making sure that the boys know that I RULE. ;)

kcurtis said...

I also remember how much, especially when my kids were small, I loved being with people who loved being with my kids! That never really changes . . . although there are times when I wish some who loved being with my kids didn't love it quite so much - but that is a discussion for a few years down the road. And for the record, your girls ARE great!
What gets tricky sometimes is realizing that the way God defines the boundaries of family, and who is included in "God's kids" is not always the way we do. (Of course we get this right in theory, at least most of the time, but interesting interactions can happen when what one group believes is good for their kids seem to be at odds with what another group thinks is good for theirs . . .)
When that sense of a love that is stronger than death that Lynne talks about, and that parents experience for their children, is seen as a reflection of how God feels about all kids in all families, wherever they live, whatever their age, or ___________ . . . sometimes I wonder if God wonders when I am going to "get it" . . . even as God continues to love me in the midst of what I sometimes still manage to drag into the living room.

TLJ said...

I've never met your girls but I'm sure I would love them if I met them cause they are so darn CUTE! How could anyone not love them? Did I tell you they look like angels? Like those little cupid beings painted all over the cathedrals in Spain and other parts of Europe and Latin America. FYI: For me to say that your girls look like angels is a huge compliment, before I saw your family photo I firmly believed that angels are really black (or of some "colored" ethnicity) and that depicted white angels and other Biblical characters was just an example of artistic eurocentrism. But after seeing your girls I am sincerely questioning this belief. So, to say that I would like your girls just because they're gorgeous does make me sound quite shallow and looks-fixated. I guess I might be. But to excuse myself somewhat I say that I can count on 1 hand (OK, maybe two) how many babies/toddlers I've actually thought were ugly...and even some of those ugly ones get cuter to me once the personality comes out. But men I know are different. My husband generally dislikes kids, doesn't see them as cute or ugly... just blobs. But he adores his son and has turned out to be a much better father than I thought he'd be.

Ivan said...

Well, Sonja and I love your girls. We only wish we could see them more often than say, once. But remember, the next time we see your girls you must equally enjoy our little girl.

jmaritz said...

Hey, wait a minute - MY girl rules! And fortunately all our old friends think she's terrific, too, so we haven't had to take anyone off our Christmas mailing list. Oops - Christmas list? That holiday, like just about everything else in the last nine months, slipped by without getting anything in the mail.

Glad to see you on the blogging scene - I've really enjoyed the humor and insights of what you've written! You're really brave to attempt 5 posts a week - I can barely pen two sentences at a time many days, and I have only one little princess . . .