Thursday, June 30, 2011

These Happy Golden Years*

From Brene' Brown's book The Gifts of Imperfection, pages 79 - 80:

"Anne Robertson, a Methodist pastor, writer and executive director of the Massachusetts Bible Society, explains how the Greek origins of the happiness and joy hold important meaning for us today. She explains how the Greek word for happiness is Makarios, which was used to describe the freedom of the rich from normal cares and worries, or to describe a person who received some form of good fortune, such as money or health. 

Robertson compares this to the Greek word for joy which is chairo. Chairo was described by the ancient Greeks as the "culmination of being" and the "good mood of the soul." 

Robertson writes, "Chairo is something, the ancient Greeks tell us, that is found only in God and comes with virtue and wisdom. It isn't a beginner's virtue; it comes as the culmination. They say it's opposite is not sadness, but fear." 

I have been thinking a lot about how saying thank you is the opposite of self-pity. It's the opposite of self-anything. Self-focus. My fears, my doubts, my anxiety .... my anything.

I have a friend who has five (almost) grown kids - she has told me several times that the ages my kids are at now are such special ones. These are the years where everything is possibility, she's said, where everything is an option and full of hope.

I am seeing what she means. My kids are old enough to reason and young enough to be un-self-conscious. The first six years, if I look back, were all about teaching survival skills. (To my self,  as much as to them!) How to stay alive, eat, drink, sleep and exist safely.

Around six and seven years old I really loved the joy of seeing my kids' uniqueness unfold. I got to celebrate their differences, their own perspectives and the surprises that came out in how they see the world through their own eyes. I loved that and I still do.

And now, now it's all about relationship.

I am consciously, intentionally storing away for (what could be) the turbulence of individuating ahead. I am laying a foundation every day of relationship. I'd be foolish to think it may not get tricky with hormones and the heavy-lifting that growing up will ask of them. But I have these years and I am daily helping them build relationship with themselves, with family, with friends, with their own faith... with the way their minds and bodies work and how to relate to that.

Most of how I do this is with time. It's focus, it's eye contact and answering impossible questions with attention, it's listening, it's reading, it's touch, it's doing everything we can together - it's investing, investing, investing. It's golden moments that flitter by so fast that sometimes even the legitimate robs the essential.

In the past this investment has often come from fear. From a sense of scarcity or panic of the unknown (or even precedent) - from a place of focus on me and my worries and my fears. But slowly I am learning to make the investment from a surplus of joy instead. From a place of gratitude.

As they practice growing up, I am practicing my place of thanks. Thanks not built on guarantees but on God.

I am daily learning to see the gifts in our lives as the opposite of seeing lack, and instead choosing to see plenty. To see the beauty of who I worship show Himself in the abundance of goodness and kindness and simple routines of our days.

These are some my golden moments from this week. They are entirely imperfect and subjective. But these are the ones I clicked on a camera button for, because this was my way of saying: I see this gift, God, and I thank you.

for unity

for these golden years
(she borrows my clothes and jewelry now and has an eye on my shoes, she's so fun she makes me excited to have a teen in the house)

for their friendship

for reading me pooh bear

for a rainbow garden
(thanks to our friend sara)

for a quiet home 
(after the cacophony of celebrating that school's out)

for collecting dinner for daddy

for a moment

for enjoyment

for daddy being home

for their relationship

for beauty and joy

for baby-sitting a little buddy and seeing my kids play with him

{*with apologies to Laura Ingalls Wilder}


Chelle said...

Love your heart so much, dear friend. You are the embodiment of beauty and joy.
A great big, with tears in my eyes resounding " me too! " is my response to this precious post.

Nikki said...

Love this lucky your kids are to have you as their mama!

WordGirl said...

I must start by thanking you for introducing me to Brene Brown. I am pages away from finishing I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame and it was just what I needed to read right now. It's been eye-opening, encouraging and affirming.

And I'll close by saying what a beautiful post this is. My eleven year old daughter is on the cusp of becoming a woman before my very eyes and I, like you, am trying to celebrate and give thanks for what our family is right now, while holding myself open to the changes that await right around the corner.

Thank you for writing. It always blesses me.

Renee @ FIMBY said...

I get this! I felt this way exactly about those years. When the kids hit 10 things shifted a bit. But I love this age also, the dance between childhood and young adulthood. Beautiful Misha.

Misha Leigh. said...

Thanks, friends. And I'm watching you ladies with the older girls! It's all changing so fast all of a sudden...

Jessica said...

"To see the beauty of who I worship show Himself in the abundance of goodness and kindness and simple routines of our days."

Love this line- and this post! So much happiness here! I love the way you are able to embrace life :-)

Shelly Miller said...

Thankfulness is a resounding theme for me as well. While my kids are older, thankfulness is what keeps perspective through the more challenging seasons. As always, love your thoughts. They inspire.

emily wierenga said...

dear misha... thank you, for being so intentional about your role as a mother. it teaches and inspires me. xo

Misha Leigh. said...

Oh my word Emily - likewise!!!!

Misha Leigh. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Watters said...

"I have been thinking a lot about how saying thank you is the opposite of self-pity. It's the opposite of self-anything." it!

deb colarossi said...

I wasn't able to leave a comment here for some reason the last time, but I wanted to make sure you knew how fabulous this all is.
I truly believe that investing is critical, but it doesn't have to be financial or hovering or controlling, but yes, relational. Listening, talking, time, joy, gratitude , trust.

It is a season of some changes in our daily right now, and I am always called to be a mother first , even though I miss online reading and writing.

My 22 year old son actually came outside just as I'd settled in with my laptop the other night to "finally read some of my blogloves " , to sit and share with me about a girl he is having very strong feelings for. I was so glad to be available to him. And that he would chose to come to me about this. We can't get the day back. We must choose wisely. And of course,
pray for grace. I do that a lot :)