When a marriage gets moved into new digs.

When a marriage gets moved into new digs.

How can a heart soar and cringe all at the same time? As a mom of a wide range of kids, I should know this sensation all too well by now. For Pete’s sake, my 21 year old recently sent a photograph of his body practically dangling over the far edge of a cliff along the Oregon coast. Rude and heartless. Tonight as 8-year-old Jack gave us a thumbs-up and sailed away amidst the crowd on his razor scooter, I fully wanted to be Elastigirl and reach out to snatch him back to within my comfort zone. The crowd was getting thick, folks gathering for the concert in the park on a breezy Sunday evening in our new village in Southern California. All at once in my head: “where am I” and “this rocks.”

How can I force my heart to be calm and easy as he whisks away, without the battling pangs of fear, and the roars of elation bashing into each other inside my chest?

This move has re-jiggered our family in many ways, with fierce and fantastic discoveries of our own capabilities. Steve and I have had to reset long-held patterns in ways we’ve not yet had to do as husband and wife. For the last five years we’ve been living a simpler, more culturally traditional life, (all the while knowing we’re not culturally traditional!). Now, as if we stepped through a looking glass, we’re inverted and catawampus, and it’s providing us daily opportunity to laugh (or cry) about our alternating struggles with paradigms we thought ourselves too intellectual to admit.

For us, the handling of the kids remains the main pivot in this life-shift.  For nearly a decade Steve and I have joyfully shared duties of finances, chores, cooking, and shopping. But the role of doctors, schools, sports, and social life oversight has suddenly and firmly landed like a meteor in Steve’s agenda. Our partnership evolves again. Of course he handles it like the CEO that he is; the early stages of this move have been to get the kids acclimated to a new town, new house, and new conversations with Dad in charge. For sure, the screeching tires and flying dust will settle nicely once we’ve shifted into third gear and school starts. But as always, it’s hard to let go.

Indeed, these are the times when we must have well trained filters. We have to resist reacting out of our egos or our insecurities or our co-dependence. Yes, it’s true. Even though we’ve largely killed those nasty demons, a few rogue patterns remain hiding in the weeds.  It’s hard to let go of the way we would do things: the freedoms for the kids and order of events. He lets them fly farther and I hold more closely to quality time. He doesn’t worry when I would prefer to err on the side of caution.

Tim Keller writes about marriages wielding the power of truth and love with grace in each other’s lives. The adventure of spiritual companionship, partnering with God in the journey to the new creation. Making each other more and more beautiful. That’s what we want. That’s the result of living vertically.

So when I react differently to situations that were once addressed more by me, and now they’re more addressed by him, I pause and breathe out the selfishness. Or, failing that, I spew out my BUTs and WHYs, and we both take solace in knowing we have new chances to show grace to the other.

One of us learns again that kids grow when they are stretched; the other learns that protecting precious family time together is growth too.

And Jack returns when the music starts, as instructed, safe and sound.



1 Comment

  1. Beeka
    Aug 12, 2013

    Oh ya, I hear you!!!!! Good job.!

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