Thursday, June 11, 2009

half-empty or half-full

Are you a glass-half-empty, or a glass-half-full person? And is your husband the same, or different?

Yesterday morning, after a spill on the dining-room floor, I started singing my joy song--only with a desperate, trying-not-to-cry kind of voice. You see, the children's 2% milk had spilled on the dining-room floor at least five times in the last seven days. It is NOT fun to clean up, and sweeping and mopping in there isn't easy; so many things have to be moved out first, and so many little feet banned from the room for the duration of the clean-up. I've tried getting up the spills with just dry towels and then wet towels, but a film is always left on the floor. The wood-floor mop is the only thing that gets up the film.

Anyhow, Daniel said to Daddy in response to my song: "Isn't it nice, Daddy, that Mommy counts everything as all joy? I really like her songs."

Now my husband is a glass-half empty kind of person. I don't mean to put him down in saying that. He is a wonderful man and has more of a servant's heart than I do. It's just that his natural bent is to NOT look on the bright side of things. When I am overtired and not feeling charitable, his half-empty mindset drives me insane. Otherwise, I don't think about it a whole lot.

I could immediately tell that Daniel's comment both irritated him and surprised him. The surprise was from the fact that Daniel didn't seem to mind (or catch onto) my desperate--rather than joyful--tone of singing. The irritation was probably from the fact that he knew Daniel may have been comparing Daddy's grumpiness to Mommy's new-found, but-sometimes-feined, outside joyfulness.

I felt sorry for Don. My joy songs are a source of irritation to him, I fear. He has for years been asking God for a filling of the spirit--for a joy that surpasses all understanding. I think it is much harder for the glass-half-empty personality to hold on to joy. All the adversity we've experienced in our ten-year marriage has wearied him a bit. The children--especially Daniel--take a lot of emotional energy out of him. He loves being around his family and doesn't want to pursue, or be pushed to pursue, an outside outlet. However without such an outlet, raising kids is much harder for a man. There is a balance. Some men are forever playing golf in their leisure time, and that isn't good for the family. I think when he was working full-time, that was enough of a separation for him. He was happier and more relaxed then, whereas right now he is going through a lot. I can't explain it to the kids; they don't know that he lost his main job. We've only told them that he is looking for a better job, and that he will start a computer school soon.

Our pastor recently preached on joy, and Don talked with him afterwards about setting up a meeting to talk about that pursuit in Don's life. I went to the church yesterday to sign the boys up for a Friday day-camp, and I ran into the Pastor. He asked how we were doing, mentioning that we had really been going through things lately. I told him that we were fine, and that the unemployment led to Don receiving a grant for some training in the computer field, which would probably turn out to be a big blessing. I explained that Don had pursued a ministry education in the past, and that it hadn't led where he'd wanted it to, and as a result Don has lived with job dissatisfaction for a very long time. Pastor said he was looking forward to talking to Don. And he added, "It will be fun. I enjoy that." This was completely genuine. Our Pastor is a very joy-filled man. I'm so grateful for him.

And my heart hopes that the meetings between these two will lead to Don understanding--and being able to capture and keep--joy in his heart. I know he is a saved man. This doesn't have to do with that. It's more of a personality bent--a self speak--something that I think one can be trained to possibly change, with God's help.

I don't mind sharing Don's burdens. He has to share mine too, whether he wants to or not. It's an inevitable part of marriage, and something that ultimately draws a couple closer--if they use grace to get past the irritation. My tendency towards nervousness and anxiety gets to him sometimes. I sense he is worried that I won't be able to handle all four kids on my own, while Anna is still taking lousy naps. My answer to that is prayer, prayer and more prayer, and telling him to go in peace and let God work it out with Anna.

I'm trying everything and her naps are still too short. God will HAVE to intervene on her behalf. If it's a case of reflux and lying flat causes her pain, than God will have to address that--although when I place her in a reclined infant seat, her naps are only slightly longer. My doctor only prescribes something for reflux when the baby is spitting up so much that she isn't gaining weight. Anna is gaining well.

If I accept her thirty to fifty-minute naps and then put her down more often, she has a lot of trouble drifting off at all--like she is wired and over-tired. When held, she sleeps four hours over three naps during the day, and this leads to good night sleep. With the shorter naps, she wakes up super early in the morning, and has trouble sleeping the rest of the day.

But I really can't complain too much, because I absolutely adore watching her sleep and feeling her sweet body against me. She will be my last baby, thanks to Don's recent vasectomy. Today she got up on all fours, and I kissed her and hugged her in congratulations. But then I thought--wait a minute--my last baby is about to crawl away from me, probably in less than six weeks! Yikes! Not fair!

I don't know why this is so hard for me. It happens to every woman, after all. There is always a last baby. Anna will hopefully nurse well into her second year or beyond--delaying the pain for Momma a bit. Every stage has its joys, I know. But cuddling and nursing babies is the ultimate for me.

Maybe I'll run a baby daycare when my children leave. One never knows.

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