3.07.2008

a long and twisty one, take a seat

I know I have written about trials before and my confusion about why the ones other people get seem larger than mine. Be it financial trials, children's health issues, their own grown-up health trials, tragedy, or abuse. When I think of my life in comparison it feels as if a golden wand touched the top of my head and gave me the 'free of serious trial' spell. Which, of course, is silly to think, I have many years ahead of me still. Surely bad things happen to some people some of the time, and bad people some of the time, and any mix of those words you can put together. Life is life, hard and unexpected with a different balance of easy and joyful for every person and family.

So there is that. And then there is me being late all the time. What is it with me and late? Is it like this simple little cricket chirping I struggle with putting outside because I get too lazy to look for it behind each door? My little bit of memory that loses information like sand through a sifter. Too much to work on? How is that, Liz? There are people juggling a dozen kids going every direction each day of the week and I can't remember to pick up my husband's work clothes from the dry cleaning on Mondays? Even with a loving reminder call in the middle of the afternoon? How is that?

Driving down the road this week I thought about my sister and how different her responsibilies are on a daily and monthly basis with the unique needs some of her children have. Also, the adjustment to a new state, her husband's new job and long hours, sometimes traveling. I thought about the generations of women in our family and what their lives were like daily and weekly. My grandma experiencing The Great Depression and becoming a widow with 4 young daughters. My mother experiencing times as a single parent moving into a new state with little work experience. We have all had our own paths with our own hardships of varying degrees and they all look so different.

Then I circled back to the little souls my sister is raising and how perfectly well they fit into her family. It was like looking at a completed puzzle from afar, it made perfect sense given her ability to be so organized and orderly, careful and thorough. Her experience helping to raise me, the natural way things come to her as a loving and instinctual mother that the needs her children have match up to her skills evenly. They were predetermined to be with her and her husband, I believe, before they even came to this earth. Any other woman in my family would provide all they could, but she provides exactly the tools they need in a way that fits like a glove. Needs that just might have been a lot more challenging to meet in the years of The Great Depression, for a single mother, or an absent-minded mommy.

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I sometimes wonder the path of my life and what it's prepared me for. What comes next, what I will be fighting for or standing up for or rooting my guts out for. Myself? My husband? My kids? The PTA meetings? HOA rules? Habitat for Humanity? Mental Health Causes? Better School Lunches? Sex Education? Cancer? My Neighbor? The Girl Scouts of America? Nothing? Boring regular life or H U G E things that are not the norm? I have no idea. I just know we are given tools and our life paths help us sharpen them for a reason; either for ourselves or other people. And they are not just for the purpose of making money to gain material things, they are given to us to make a difference at some point in our lives. I wonder if that time will be handed to me or if I will need to seek it out.

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I was also thinking about how we all sacrifice different things sometimes. I was feeling rather privileged one day a few years ago and remember praying to my Heavenly Father to help me understand the feeling of sacrifice and how to prepare for it (this is a little personal so handle with care here folks). I remember looking around at my safe home and crazy things were happening in the world and I was safe and healthy and had a healthy baby boy. My husband had a job and was getting into a really great school. Some husbands we knew did not have a job at the time and other personal things in others' lives were not going so well. Of course, I didn't want to join their situations, but merely had heavy compassion in my heart and knew I had not had nearly the struggles they might be facing. It felt unfair.

As I look back between that time and today I can say we have still not been jobless. We are still healthy and intact. We are still not in the middle of a burning building, a flooded city, nor are we in the way of a brush fire gone out of control. We are in a good place, perhaps better place as a family than we were years ago. We sit and smile at each other and look around at each other and know how good it feels to be together. I can feel it because the sacrifice we made was one we needed. Some might not even classify it as a sacrifice. Two prayers were answered when Mike started his MBA program. Not only did he get in, but we began a course of feeling somewhat isolated from each other.

I learned how to be a mother with him getting home late on a 10pm train, only to get up around 5am the next day and head to work again. He had long weekend projects with peers whom also held full time jobs during the week. Zane didn't know his father very well, this was a source of great resentment for me. It created a wedge initially that was a bit of a challenge to remove. It took a lot of perspective on my part to get there and understanding of our plan for him to do this for the future of his career. Our sacrifice was the removal of the most important thing any family has: our time together.

I didn't realize that my prayer was being answered at the time, I didn't realize it was our little family sacrifice time and how temporary it would be. I also didn't realize how much it would mean to have him walk in the door at 7pm at night and feel so thrilled Zane gets to play rough with him before going to bed and Evan gets to babble and giggle with his daddy each night. I am grateful for the perspective those years have given us.
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