Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: relationships (page 1 of 2)

On Sibling Unity

Dearest Children,

I have many hopes for your life. That you find a deep and satisfying love for another person, a partner in life, to hold and hold up, who reveals the best parts of you. That you discover a vocation that resonates with your soul, a means for you to partner with God in the work of redeeming this world. That you cultivate friendships that honor and carry you, a family outside the bounds of bloodlines.

And that you hold on to one another.

I hope you become one another’s loudest cheerleader and biggest challenger. I hope you support without forgetting honesty and love without holding judgment. Please, please, please remember: in this thing of life, you are on the same team. 

May you find that none of you are perfect, yet all of you are good. And when you face the world together, you are complete.

My best gift, my only gift, I can offer you – outside of my attempts to reflect the presence of God and my sluggish struggle to demonstrate the importance of these wishes with my own life example – is one another. With each and every child I gave you, it was my best step toward being a better mother. My own love never feels enough, so I’ve offered you each a team of other humans who love, protect, guide and challenge you.

You will compete. You will be frustrated. You might not talk to one another for a period of time. The idiosyncrasies of each personality will eventually drive you toward an appreciation for solitude, but may it guide you toward compassion, an understanding that God’s image comes in many containers, often that look nothing like your own.

Each of you has a gift to offer the world, and it begins in your love for one another. May it be so.

Visit me elsewhere:

Love in absence

September 11, 2001: Chances are, you remember where you were, who you were with and the feelings that arose that morning. If you’re from Upper Sandusky, there’s a good chance you can also zero in on October 11, 2001 and where you were that evening. Whose house you visited, the person you called, and how you processed. You recall the first time you spoke to Carol in the following weeks, lacking words but with a heart yearning to express the grief. If you’re from Upper Sandusky, you can probably recall your thoughts on the lack of Homecoming that year or the wait at the funeral home.

A group of students from the church gathered in the chapel and when Colleen locked the doors the floor was covered in tissues. Friends of the family arrived the next evening and found Carol washing dishes, the only thing that made sense at the time. At the funeral service, JJ stood stoically in support of Sarah as she spoke.

I know these stories so closely because they’ve become a part of me. They’re a part of my genome so much that you might surmise I was actually there.  Maybe in your mind, you replace the girl who rode in the limo with JJ from the funeral to the cemetery with my face. I often do. I wish it was my hand he held. I pretend I gave Jim and Carol hugs or coffee or Lambrusco in those awful days.

But I didn’t.

Truth be told, I was a junior at OU. I was likely getting ready for the annual Fall Retreat, my biggest challenge of the day being who I would ride with on Friday. I was probably at a Bible study that night, talking about “real” things like the inerrency of scripture. Honestly, I have no clue what I was doing on the day that would change my all my future Octobers.

Is it fair to say you miss someone you never met? To hear these precious stories and long to know the the person behind the pictures? It’s complete bull that I have never heard that laugh or the way she would shriek when JJ would pick on her.

If I’m honest – and perhaps a tad selfish- I’ll tell you: I feel completely cheated. Jipped. Shortchanged. I’ve never had the joy of Christina in my life, only the sorrow of her absence.

So today I’m missing something I never knew I had. After 14 years, the latter 12 of which I have been present, I grieve the hole in my family life, the place where she belongs but does not sit.

Love is like that. Perhaps this is when we know our love has reached a depth indescribable by words alone. You take on the story of those you love and make it your own. You allow your love to grow in the absence when the presence isn’t available.

 

Visit me elsewhere:

Raising Nerds

While at the lake, the young boys contemplated fun things to do that didn’t involve screens. Now one to contribute, my eldest offered, “I had math homework. That’s fun!”

Part of me is so very proud. This will put me in a top-notch nursing home someday. Upscale with organic applesauce and fair trade decaf coffee. Only the best and (most expensive) for this genius’ dear mama.

The honest part of me will say it scares me. If you’ve had a child, sibling or even a dog, I think you know the feeling. A sense of wondering, will he be included? As his mother, I love him in a particular and all-encompassing kind of way. I’m aware the rest of the world doesn’t have such thick ties – they’re free to love their favorite parts and tease about the rest, which is terrorizing.

We want our children to be loved and accepted. This is why we buy Under Armor, yes? Those little 10-year-old bodies don’t need power-wicking and compression. We’re buying a Sense of Enough because we desperately want them to be enough. To be included. Whether or not we had a place there, we want our kids to sit at the Cool Kids Table.

Except, I would argue, we actually don’t.  We just think we do.  Most of us don’t want to make cool the ultimate goal – it’s simply the most visible one. If other kids are flocking to your kid, then your kid must be someone good, right?

We mistake popularity for connection. I think perhaps  when we say we hope for our children to be “included” what we really wish is for them to be known and loved for themselves. We want them to have friends who appreciate and honor them. We want them to feel the connection we have with our closest friends, families and partners. (Or that which we wish we had.)

The easiest and most readily-available solution is to help them become what is likable. There’s a profile out there (one, I would say, that is much more rigorous for young girls, but that is another post). Depending on your context you have to put in the ingredients for the right amount of brains (but not too nerdy), athleticism (in our parts, there’s never too much of this), good looks (but not to the point of vanity) and charm. When we succeed at this potion, society readily responds by asking other children seek out this prototype.

I absolutely love that I’m raising a little nerd. I think it’s cute and inspiring. I don’t want him to change – to love math less, to care if his clothes match more. But I do want him to be accepted. To be valued. True friends will do this, I know.

The easiest thing to do is ask him to be like everyone else. The risk of hurt and rejection seems slender when there’s less differentiation. As usual, I’m not in this for easy – I want the good. But I’ll be honest… living my values is hard, especially when my kid’s childhood is on the table. What if I’m wrong? What if these values aren’t worth it? What if the hurt he feels when he’s not popular leads him to other, less desirable ends?

I tell you folks, this parenting gig – it’s not for the faint of heart. Especially when you’re trying to change the world at the same time.

Visit me elsewhere:
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