Thursday, May 30, 2013

We Played UNO Last Night

Reading blogs like this one will do something to you as a parent. Especially a  missionary parent. All the insecurities about whether you are doing it "right" - this tenuous balance of ministry and family - bubble to the surface and make you question whether you're okay and your kids are okay and your priorities are okay.

That's not a bad thing.

We played UNO last night. Yes, it was a school night. And it was the end of a crazy day. One son stayed home sick, two other sons returned from pre-school around midday, and the girls had their day extended all the way to 6 p.m. due to an after-school, all-school practice for Friday's upcoming parent program. Three of the five kids also participated in a city-wide tsunami evacuation drill that morning so needless to say, It. Was. A. Day.

I spent the morning at home, on the computer, typing up lists of names and phone numbers to try and sort chaos into some sort of coordination for our church ministries. My colleague Kim was always the one to make reminder calls before each event (because though we wish this weren't necessary, we have succumbed to cultural norms that this is the way it is!) Now the responsibility to do or delegate falls to me and that's okay, too. But I need some order if it's going to happen. I also spent time in preparation for Saturday's married couples' activity because this weekend gets even c.r.a.z.i.e.r., if that's possible!

I can't say for sure what my husband did except that he stayed just as busy, studying mostly and taking calls, joining us for a quick lunch and then bringing in dinner close to 8 p.m. when the family finally reunited at home. Thankfully the boys had napped earlier in the day while I met with one of our teen girls for an impromptu visit, so we had some extra energy at that hour and thus the UNO idea emerged.

It was fun. It was Ian's first time playing, and Alec's second. They are still a little confused. One of them still needs to learn his colors, and the other how to take turns. But they were so excited to be included. Their older siblings were, for the most part pleasant (except when a certain older brother lost to the younger one.) Daddy was, for the most part patient (except when the noise levels increased in decibels and someone had the idea of playing Mandisa's Christmas album in June and he quickly ixnayed that!) And Mommy was, for the most part pleased (because it was my idea and somehow the "stars aligned" and it all came together.)

This week we've played Memory, and Ticket to Ride, and UNO. Maybe at odd times and often unplanned, but it's happened. We've played together and laughed together in the midst of living together, and I hope our kids will remember. Yes, our life is about ministry. But it's also about them. And above all else, it must be about Him. 
Together, we are a better team in this great adventure called missionary life!


Deborah said...

I love you. :) I'm praying for youall. <3

Ellie said...

Sigh. It's difficult to balance. Doing crazy things like UNO late at night help. You are already miles ahead in being able to have your kids home with you.

For us, it was watching my parents buck tradition and stand up to others for us that helped. They flatly refused to send us to boarding school and ingeniously homeschooled us through middle school when no one was doing that. My dad calmly stood up to a rule that required all missionaries to be in the office at 7 every morning for devotions. I remember him looking the director in the eye and calmly, but firmly saying, "No, I will not be there every morning because at 7 am, I will be sitting at my breakfast table having devotions with my family."

I watched that commitment to kids being important as I watched my parents start a co-op school for Mks in our city so that no little first graders need be sent away again. The school did not benefit our family as we were all too old for it, but I saw their firm belief that families belonged together and were valuable.

They took us along in ministry when they could, and we did crazy things together. But it was seeing them fight for our rights as MKs that enabled me to forgive the times they had to put ministry above family. Because there are times it has to happen... you may have promised a birthday dinner, but someone's dad got killed in a traffic accident. We went - we all went - to sit and cry with friends. And I understood because I saw the tears in another home, and I learned empathy.