Sunday, October 9, 2005

Things that remain...

I am the oldest of 5 and the only girl. When my brothers and I sit around and reminisce about our childhoods, there are lots of laughs (mostly at my expense) and lots of stories I don't remember. Often times, when my brothers talk about their childhood I wonder if we really grew up in the same house. I've always held to the theory that our roles in the family were different, and thus our treatment was different...their differing memories seem to support that theory, i.e., because they weren't the oldest or the only girl they had a wonderful childhood (mostly at my expense).

As the oldest, I was responsible for everything. If they didn't do their homework, or their was my fault. If they trashed the house and left their underwear in odd places, it was my fault. If they talked back or lied it was my fault too. If it wasn't my fault for failing to keep them from doing naughty things, then it was my fault because of my example. Since I came first and they had to learn it from someone...that someone must be me.

As the only girl, I was Jr. Mommy. Which meant if there was slack to be picked up in any domestic area, that was my job. While my brothers remember tender moments and boo-boo kissing with my mom, I remember orders and fussing and quite a few tears.

Now, I know my mom wasn't a completely different person with me, its just that in the end what remained from my childhood with her was that I was Jr. Mommy and I apparently wasn't very good at it. What remained for my brothers was something entirely different...something more pleasant to think on.

I thought about that as I watched my brother with his kids this morning. He woke up, got dressed and came in my room, ostensibly to say goodbye before he went to work. Before he could do that, though, he decided he needed to correct the oldest girl in what I considered an overly harsh way. It seemed so to me especially since this was the only contact he'd had with her all weekend. I ached for her, that this was the one moment she had with him and he chose to spend it fussing at her. She didn't seem to be to upset by it though, as when he did turn back to her to get a kiss goodbye, she smiled and kissed him.

I do hope that what remains for her isn't fussy/irritable Daddy, but something kinder and more my brothers remember my mom.

This exchange also made me think about something that happened with my nephew Saturday. I had all three of them and headed off to church. I was apprehensive as the last time I took my nephew he didn't behave very well and I didn't really get to worship or anything. But, I decided to try again and I talked to him and asked him mom to talk to him and we talked again in the car on the way there.

We were there approximately 20 minutes and in that time he behaved so poorly that I had to pack them all up and leave. We didn't even make it through the entire praise and worship portion. I was so angry and disappointed that I yelled at him...a lot. And then we both cried.

But then we went home and picked up my other niece and nephew and had lunch and watched a movie...and played...and had breakfast and lunch in my bed today. I don't raise my voice at my nephew a lot...but I do spend a great deal of time correcting him. He can think of more ways to get in trouble in an afternoon than I ever have in my life! But I do hope what remains is good...praying before bed, singing in the car at the top of our lungs, talking about the gospel, and that day he got to veg and eat pizza in Ti Ti's bed...

that in this case love will cover a multitude of sin...the love and care I show him will more than outweight the times I sin against him (or the times he may think I am).

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