Mark Buchanan is one of my favorite writers. Earlier this morning I read a chapter from his book, Things Unseen. He speaks of an early memory of his father.
We are on holiday. My father, whose work to him was often a heaviness and a dreariness, is light from two weeks of rest and play and silence. His chronic irritability, his swift, jerky snapping at things, is gone. He often looked as if he was constantly fighting invisible restraints–a failed Houdini who, no matter how much he thrust and twisted to loose the ropes and chains, couldn’t slip free. But his usual motions of rigid haste have slowed and smoothed, and the things that three weeks ago would have made him explode in anger or withdraw in sullenness now just make him shrug or chuckle. My mother has relaxed into my father’s softening mood. She has almost collapsed into it, thankful, weary, only now realizing how close she herself was to breaking.
He goes on to speak of something that happened in a summer cabin where they were staying, which elicited the most unusual response. I’ll have to get back to this later. For now, I want to think for a moment about the memory that he has of his father’s typical behavior…
…chronic irritability, his swift, jerky snapping at things… It is such a memory that it makes quite an impression when it is gone, immediately after vacation. His father left the impression with him that his work was often a heaviness and dreariness. Wow… This makes me wonder about what my children have picked up from me. What have they seen, in terms of my moods, attitudes, etc.
So often when we (parents) think about raising children, we think about the things that we need to teach them or tell them.
They learn so much by just being with us. They see us for who we are, not what we would like to project to them. It might be good to think about the kind of memories that we are giving them. I don’t say this to ellicit guilt. I do think that we need to deal with lives as we really are. That can be very uncomfortable.
Thank God for his grace.