Thursday, June 16, 2011
[Sigh of Relief] It's summertime, I'm about to begin my third trimester of pregnancy, preparing for the arrival of our son. This means, alot of reading, alot of documentaries, and alot of observation and earnest inquiry into my wise friends and family. I'm not a big reader (a big surprise being that I married a guy who could read for hours and hours on end) but I can't get enough all the childbirth and breastfeeding literature that I can get my hands on. I'm studying hard, for a big test is coming in September...
So the other week, I watched a documentary called Nursery University. Sure, it had nothing to do with newborns but preschoolers. The documentary showed the cut-throat culture of getting itty bitty children into private preschools in Manhattan. I was hoping to see a number of affluent couples whining alot and hopefully some down to earth and humble family realizing this pressure for position is meaningless and fruitless. But no. They were all affluent and annoying. And by affluent and annoying I mean, there was a mother who was crying that her three year old didn't make it into the parents' first choice school and cries, "We're just not used to this not getting what we want thing [maybe I should cut her some slack--that's a pretty honest thing to say], especially when we're happily willing to give the school 20 grand. sigh. But this will be fine. sniff sniff. I just wish they could spruce up the place a bit." (and i'm thinking, "ohhhhhh, you are so annoying.") The entire documentary chronicles the stressful process of parents taking kids to interviews, to spending their time writing college, I mean, preschool essays. To be fair there is one "alternative family" who elect (because of a lack of space in other more prestigious schools) to take their kid to a more laid back preschool where there is more parental involvement. My problem with it was that there was no alternative. The alternative of refusing the "do whatever to get ahead" attitude or of refusing the idea that sucess equals eventual acceptance into Harvard (undeniably to get rich) was never discussed or even thought of makes me sad, discouraged, and yes, annoyed! Many parents made the argument, "i just want my kids to be happy," or "I want them to have more than I did,"(Happiness? Really? How can that be a goal?) and the ultimate moral of the documentary tacked on at the very end was a shallow, "what it ultmately comes down to, what this all is about is bringing our kids up and seeing them develop well, to see our kids grow and learn, in whatever fashion." And I'm thinking, "no, it's all about power, position, rank, and $$$$$$$$$$$$$$." Living well in today's world, is obviously not to live a life of simplicity or dare I say, poverty, but to get rich, look good, give some, live comfortably: this is a responsible and respectable American life.
So it was a bummer of a documentary and I was left needing some encouragement for how and what Seth and I are going to do with our own kids. Then I remembered an article Seth sent a long time ago. Probably one of the best and most simple things I've ever read, from a humble mom's blog, I feel it is drenched in Truth. She doesn't want her kids to be happy. What? No, she wants her kids to be content and to be holy. I don't know if I could sum up better goals to have for Christian parenting than that. Those things are what LIVING WELL is all about. Read her blog please. I think its important for everyone (male, female, with kids, without kids, etc). http://itsalmostnaptime.blogspot.com/2010/02/i-dont-want-my-children-to-be-happy.html?spref=fb
I need constant reminding that the things Seth and I can and will provide for our children will not be riches or comforts of this world. Sure I feel bad at times, I actually struggle alot with it, with the reality that we don't have everything, that we have limits. But our little guy is hopefully going to grow up in a community where play time comes from making toys out of the resources or- gasp- imagination we already have before buying the next video game, where vacation means not escape and luxury but rest and good company, and where achieving happiness is not our goal; that happiness is a fleeting thing and that lasting joy and contentment comes from committing to a life of virtue, a life connected to the Good Earth we've been entrusted with, and a life woven completely in the Kingdom, in the lives of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Practically speaking, this means living simply. Really simply. This will take creativity, prayer, and encouragement from our community that we are blessed with. And the Mennonite texts "More with Less" and "Living More with Less" will be my go to texts for practical tips for this kind of simple life. I will share my findings, of course.
ps. i highly recommend either book for their challenging and Christ-centered practical approaches to living (and eating and cooking and buying and decorating and giving) well.