Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Family Means Never Being Up the Creek without a Paddle

When my children were much younger (the oldest was thirteen at the time), I experienced the surgical menopause to end all surgical menopauses. Undergoing hysterectomy at the age of 39 left me with an abrupt hormonal deficit that quite literally took me to the brink of insanity. (At the time, I sort of wished I could just let go and sink into oblivion, but I guess I was too much of a control freak.) The result? I was an entirely lucid bystander at my own neurochemical meltdown, and it would not be an exaggeration to call the experience horrific. In fact, with four children depending upon me, it was a nightmare.

Fortunately, my doctors eventually came up with a hormone replacement cocktail that mimicked my former production of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone closely enough to put me back on track...but it was not an easy process, nor a quick one. The healing took place over a period of months and even years, and the Lord gave me the opportunity to learn many things about myself that I could not have known otherwise, but those things are not what I want to write about today. Today, my thoughts are turned to what the Lord taught me about family. (Especially my family.)

I'm convinced that getting through the first month of mood swings, sleeplessness, heart palpitations, and general malaise without the help of my sister, Nikki, would have been all but impossible. Despite having three children of her own, one a brand new baby, she spent every waking hour at my house so I wouldn't have to be alone. Several months later, when my husband and I made the difficult decision to move away from our support system in order to pursue a career opportunity, my parents continued to lend a hand by paying me lengthy visits, while my other sister (Jayne, who lived in our new area) became part of a sisterly tag team that kept me afloat. I knew for certain that I could call upon any one of my four siblings and have immediate help, and my mom and stepfather made themselves completely available to me, too. Best of all, throughout the entire ordeal, my husband and children stood by me with as much love and loyalty as anyone could ever hope to receive.

Which brings me back to my main point here: what I learned about family. I learned that belonging to mine meant that I would never find myself up the creek without a paddle. (Not that I hadn't known this before, but now my knowledge was experiential rather than intellectual.) I had seen my family in action, and they had not disappointed me.

Let's face it. Bad things happen to good people and not-so-good careful people and not-so-careful lucky people and not-so-lucky people. In fact, troubles come to everyone, young and old, wise and foolish, deserving and undeserving. What I want my children to know, as I have known, is that their parents are solidly behind them, no matter what happens in life. Or how it happens. Or why.

Our family motto is "Stand sure," and I hope my children feel sure that their immediate and extended family members will stand beside them always, through thick and thin. If they are not yet certain of this, then life will teach them (as it did me), and they will not be disappointed.

The simple truth is this: No burden, challenge, mistake, misunderstanding, or quarrel is so powerful that a healthy, committed, eternal family structure cannot support it. Sure, the walls may shake a little, but if the foundation is solid, no amount of huffing and puffing can blow our houses down.

Which is why that cool picture at the top speaks to me so loudly...
Because family means never having to be up the creek without a paddle.

And that means everything.


Karen said...

You are so blessed in family. I feel the same and appreicate your ability to put that feeling into the right words.

Beautiful post. Thanks.


karen said...

It's funny how the trying times seem to bring out the best in people, don't they? It's when you find out for sure who you can count on, and if you're lucky, it's family and some special friends. Good for you and your family! (And your special friends!)

Joyful Noise said...

Wow. You are so, so wise. And you articulate what I think so beautifully.

"Bad things happen to good people and not-so-good careful people and not-so-careful lucky people and not-so-lucky people. In fact, troubles come to everyone, young and old, wise and foolish, deserving and undeserving. What I want my children to know, as I have known, is that their parents are solidly behind them, no matter what happens in life. Or how it happens. Or why."

This paragraph pretty much sums up our last year. And you are right, whatever happens (and some horrible things HAVE happened)we are solidly behind our children.

Thank you for the beautiful reminder that we can make it through this together. I think I will print that paragraph and put it on my refrigerator (or maybe my computer screen - then I would see it more often...)

Debbie rmm Rocklin, CA

jen said...

At 39? Wow. That's young. I wonder if they have better solutions for early hysterectomies now?
One of the things I love about you is our parallel loves of our families. Thanks for this today!

Lisa said...

This brings back all the same feelings. At 41 I had ovarian cancer and "lost" all my female organs. I was just happy to be alive so all the achs & pains and total discomfort were the price i was paying to be alive. Family and friends support are always needed. We had a lesson a couple of weeks ago that was about trials and tribulations and the end result was "you're just NOT that special" ('it' happens to everyone.)

KC Mom said...

I think that is why the Lord wants us to be forever families. If they are going to be here for us and be our supporters, then it would make sense that we could keep it that way forever.
I'm glad you are able to look back at that difficult part of your life and see the good. I'm not so sure I would have the family help that you had, so I hope it never happens to me.

Sue said...

It's interesting. I had a friend whose family was not altogether reliable for her as a support system. What I saw her do was create a family of friends who lovingly supported her because she was such a loving, supportive friend to them. Even better, she raised a family of her own and gave them all the things she missed out on. That family, all adults now, has become one of the strongest and most caring I know.

It can't have been easy, and I deeply admire and respect this friend for her resourcefulness and determination in building the strong family she has. She is also one of the best friends you will ever meet!

Heather Anderson said...

It may take time and events for people to come to know these things but those who have them are blessed... thanks for the post

Heather Anderson said...

Up what creek without a paddle?

Respectfully Submitted,

Matthew D. Anderson

Carolyn said...

I understand so well. I posted about a similar topic tonight. I have been drifting without my family for years now. I miss them but have found other paddles along the way.

Momza said...

It seems to be that we find our way when it is pitch black outside and the winds are blowing past us...than when the sun is shining and the air is still. That's when we discover how much we're loved.
Ya think?

Snarky Belle said...


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