Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

This Week In Everything

Why no posts, Darwins? you ask.

Because this week is Vacation Bible School and Boy Scout Camp and the week before our play goes up, which means we're in rehearsals until 9:00 every night. There is precious little down time, and what there is is taken up with doing all the things that I normally do when I'm home -- laundry, cleaning, meals, stuff, all squeezed into about three hours in the afternoon, except when we have German or piano moved from their regular times. This is survivable for a week, but I feel like the house would crumble to dust if it went on much longer.

Used to be that when people would make a remark about family size or me being pregnant again, I'd say, "Oh, what's one more?" In a sense, that's true -- if you have a crowd, one more isn't going to make much difference. And yet one more person makes a lot of difference. When you have teenagers trying to talk to you about teenage problems while a ten-year-old and seven-year-old are sparring and a six-year-old has her own complaints and the two-year-old's new hobby is sitting inside the fridge, and they all want to tell you about it at one time, then one more is an awful lot. One more activity, one more drama -- it's a lot.

For years I used to scoff at the notion that marriage was work. But you know? It is work. Not bad work, but necessary work, if one isn't going to sink in a sea of daily fuss and busyness, and emerge on different life rafts, floating near each other but not quite together. To stay united is work. To maintain a family is work. Everything this side of heaven is work, the daily bread earned by the sweat of our brow.

These middle family years are happy, but strange. All these different personalities jostling up against each other, sometimes meshing, sometimes clashing, and each of them needs to be nurtured.

...And that's it. There's no more time this morning to write. I'm off to talk for two hours straight to groups of kids at VBS, which is easier (in my mind) than having to organize the VBS. Have fun this week, and for goodness's sake, wear your sunscreen at camp.


bearing said...

The people who say "Marriage is hard work" are almost never talking about the rolled-up sleeves work of running a home and a family.

Which is funny, because from my experience THAT IS WHAT ALL THE WORK IS.

For those of us who believe that the purpose of marriage is to create and maintain the nest where children can thrive, the "work" of marriage is consubstantial with the work of running a home and a family if you are blessed with children.

But instead you get stuff like, oh, "weathering stormy periods" and "making life-altering decisions" and "recognizing that you have to accept the good and the bad..." I'm paging through articles right now and even for articles written by mothers who mention how tough it is to care for a bunch of little kids, the "work of the marriage" does not refer to the caring for the kids but instead to "ridiculous fights over nothing" and "talking our relationship out of a deep dark hole" and "hours I have wasted angry at my husband."

It's like the term "hard work" is really a metaphor for interpersonal conflict.

And I want to say, "well, that can be part of it, but I'm talking about mopping the floor and cleaning the toilets and fixing the garage roof and mowing the lawn and standing at the stove and updating the budget spreadsheet and teaching the children." Marriage requires hard work that is actually work in the sense of economically productive labor. Because the purpose of labor is to support families.

I happen to like my job, so.

All marriage requires hard work, and some marriages also require frequent management of interpersonal conflict.

bearing said...

P. S. MrsDarwin wrote this, not Darwin. Check your byline!

Jenny said...

I am very familiar with 'cramming it all into three hours every night' mode of operation. Except the laundry. I never had to worry about the laundry. It's not a fun way to live for long stretches of time.

The work of marriage that Bearing references has been roundly kicking my tail for months, but the other kind of work also becomes magnified because of the attention paid to the work work.

Supper is late because I take too long so children's bedtimes creep ever later and then, for too many days, after yelling attempted conversation over the clamor of child interruptions, it is finally quiet, but way too late. He creeps to bed and I finish some required task that should have been done hours ago. I go to bed in silence. Everyone, including the cat, is asleep. Our anniversary was over a month ago, but we still haven't managed our planned dinner date because of schedules and illnesses.

It isn't that this is the management of interpersonal conflict, exactly, but it is the realization that while I am on the learning curve of acquiring a bevy of new skills, time together that used to happen naturally doesn't anymore. To make time takes a tremendous amount of effort from me right now. This is a season, but it's best to be on guard in order that it doesn't become a habit.

MrsDarwin said...

Dagnabit, I actually logged in as myself, and it's as if the computer kicked me out. A throwback to the good old days when Darwin was considering a new hairstyle.

MrsDarwin said...

But actually, I am referring to the work of avoiding interpersonal conflict, yes.

Darwin said...

It strikes me that in many situations, avoiding interpersonal conflict requires some work, and that that work can become obvious in times of overload. For instance, with the team I manage at work, a team where the members like each other and get along, it's only during periods of extreme overload that getting along and keeping everyone happy becomes "work". At normal times, people do the things that help them get along because they want to. But when everyone is already working every minute and staying late, it's easy to see that extra stuff that may not make the difference in my day as unnecessary, but if it makes the difference in someone else's day, I end up having to make time for that too.

I think the same is true for marriage and family, but since the partnership is closer it's easier to miss the extras because they so often just come naturally.

Jenny said...

I think that is a good explanation. When your schedule is overloaded, you have to put forth effort to do the things you would have done naturally if your schedule was lighter. It's easier for a while to ignore it, but at some point you have to do the work, especially if your schedule isn't going to give anytime in the near future.

bearing said...

"it's easy to see that extra stuff that may not make the difference in my day as unnecessary, but if it makes the difference in someone else's day, I end up having to make time for that too."

Yes -- the internal work of self-discipline that one must muster in order to do the physical work of supporting other people.

Son Mom said...

I found myself really overwhelmed by the demands of managing a highschooler and a little one - my oldest started high school two years ago when the youngest was 2. The demands of her school schedule plus activities (and since we used the Catholic high school, evything involved driving) even with a carpool, plus supporting her through the inevitable teenager emotional crises and the stress of a very demanding academic load, was really intense while also managing a very high-need two year old (including the physical demand of still breastfeeding, even if not as much as a baby). And of course, the two kids in the middle had needs as well! I can't imaigne how I would cope with the demands of a nursing newborn (though of course I trust God would help me figure it out should He send me one :) ).