Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Taking the Long View

My husband and I differ dramatically in our outlook about life and family in one particular way. He assumes that it's okay that things are kind of miserable sometimes. When things aren't going smoothly, I am convinced that they can be vastly improved with a new strategy or organizational overhaul. That...and sheer force of will. We WILL be happy, everybody!!!! Can you tell I'm a firstborn?

The good news is that I'm generally right. It's usually a simple change in strategy, and we're back on track until the next pile of crazy presents itself, which it will, sooner or later. And we generally are happy. So why do I mention my husband's sometimes bleaker perspective on family life? I think it's worth thinking about because it has a positive side. His lower expectations are a real saving grace for me on the hard days. His priorities are that everyone is loved, fed, and safe that day. Anything beyond that is just gravy.

Does this mean we don't have bigger plans and expectations for our brood of four? No, definitely not! It's more that our perspectives together allow us to take a long view of things. I'm at home for now doing the daily routine of wiping noses and bottoms, but I dream of more for them and for myself professionally. My husband is out there doing the job he was made to do, and at the end of every long day (and aren't they ALL long days?), he just wants to know that everyone is taken care of and happy.

This long view allows us to see that the Star Wars figurine that a kid worked for this summer is totally worth it now that he knows his multiplication tables. He doesn't need all of the series, and he's thrilled with the one that he earned. A vacation every year just isn't going to happen, but it's worth taking one every few years to make some special memories. The rest of our travel budget? Visiting grandparents in Indiana and Pennsylvania on alternating holidays. Not a vacation, but source of special memories as well! With the long view, we know that a vacation will happen, but we're not going to only have meaningful family time at some distant point in the future. The key I'm finding is not to let the daily toil wear us down, to offer our parenting partner a nap or time away from the kids, to find peace and joy in the little moments in life, to give sacrificially for the kids and for each other, because all together, that's what makes up the long view.

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