Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Becoming my Mother-In-Law; Or How the Master of the Universe taught me to Follow the Leader

So, I have a mother-in-law. I'm sure you figured that out by me being married. And for the most part, I don't necessarily want to emulate her. It's nothing personal; I don't want to emulate my own mother. If you know my background, that is no surprise, so let me say that I further do not want to emulate my Daddy or father-in-law, as great as they are. I really want to strive to only emulate Christ in my parenting (ironic, since He was never a parent, but you get the picture). There was plenty that my parents and my husband's parents did right: they loved me, they fed me, they clothed and educated me, they supported my dreams, set boundaries, took me to church. However, there was a lot left to be desired in their parenting approach as well. Let me explain.

I was born in 1981. Go ahead and laugh. I'm either "so young" or "so old" depending on which side of my facebook friends you are on. But those are the facts, ma'am. I'm an 80's baby. Which means, I was born into a very unique generation. We were essentially the first (of a long line) of babies raised by proxy. I was a daycare baby and my family was duel-income. Women's lib had won one for the team, though I feel like the only thing they really got liberated from was their kids. It was definitely a "ME" generation: Have babies to feel good about yourself, then stick them in daycare so you can go back to your career climbing to feel good about yourself. And there was born the daycare-latchkey generation. And really, that set the pace for women for the last 30 years because now, you nearly can't afford to NOT be duel income. There's very little choice left. The cost of living has sky-rocketed and now women who long to be home, have to go to work. So, I have very distinct memories of daycare (good and terrible) and very few memories of home.

The 80's are also the "Self-Esteem" era. Our precious self views had to be protected at all costs. There was very little reprimand that addressed the person cause we might injure the psyche. So, I grew up being told constantly that I was wonderful, smart, beautiful and a treasure. Don't get me wrong. I tell my kids all the same stuff. But I don't cushion the blow when they have reveal their selfish ugly inner self and we have to deal with it. We keep a sharp perspective on their depravity and the fact that they can't clean themselves up or will themselves better. They need Jesus. But my parents both grew up in a Self-Righteousness Gospel background where you earn your way up, and God is lucky to have you on His team.

However, my mother-in-law was different. She was a nurse, but she worked nights and was at home during the day. And she had two "sets" of kids about 10 years apart. So my husband was never in daycare. Either his mom was there or he was working on the farm with his dad or his older brother and sister were there. And whatever might have come later, my mother-in-law was an excellent disciplinarian. Not only did she make them toe the line, but she was creative. One time my brother-in-law flipped her off, so she duct-taped his hands (both of them) to where the middle finger was the only one he could use for a whole day. I don't think my brother-in-law has ever given the bird again. Another time my husband and his little sister were fighting, so she duct-taped them together (she liked duct tape) and they had to learn to get along before they could be apart. Believe me, I'm taking notes!

But I think one my husbands most distinct memories is of watching Saturday morning cartoons, and his mother "ruining" them for him. He LOVED He-man! Loved Him. Had the Grayskull castle and all the action figures. When it came on, he and Michael (older brother) would race to the TV and chant the theme. "By the Power of Grayskull...He-man, and the Master of the Universe" And every time, without fail, his mother would holler from the kitchen, "Jonnie, who's the real Master of the Universe?" Jonathan would roll his little eyes and yell, "God, mom!" in an annoyed tone of voice.

I cannot tell you how many times we have laughed about that over the years. It's an inside joke for us and we have thoroughly enjoyed it.

Then Jonathan found the Full Gospel and became a church planter. Part of having our eyes opened to the depth of our depravity and the greater depth of the Father's Love for us, by no merit of our own, is that the Bible has changed. It's not a bunch of individual stories that lead up to or away from a defining moment of Jesus. Every story is Jesus. Every story is the Redemption story. And not just in the Bible. Every story everywhere tells the Gospel. There is always a protagonist, an antagonist and something gone terribly awry that must be set right. It has made Bible reading way more fun, but it has also caused us to find whispers of Jesus everywhere. And our kids books, stories and movies are not exempt from this.

So, last night I was tucking my boys into bed, kissing, praying, and singing. The lights were out, final good-nights said, and I go back to my room. They of course were not asleep, but talking and singing still. Currently my boys are obsessed with Peter Pan. They discovered Hook and can't get enough. So they are signing, "We're Following the Leader, the leader, the leader, we're following the leader wherever he may go," from the Disney movie. At the top of their lungs. Non-stop. For Five Minutes. I finally went in there and called time. Judah says, "But mom! We're just singing Peter Pan Song: Following the Leader!" I told him, "I know, but it's time to go to sleep now. Besides, who is our real leader?" Judah and Gideon know this cue by now and say, "Jesus!" I said, "That's right, and we will follow Him wherever He may go! Goodnight!"

Then I turned around and laughed out-loud that I had turned into my mother-in-law. She may not have had all the theology books to back it up, but she knew how to Gospel her kids and protect them from false doctrine in TV shows. Bravo Mom!

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