Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Wringer

My family has been through the wringer lately. And we've come out safely on the other side. I've been thinking of just how many times we have been through this wringer in the past few years, how difficult some of our more private moments have been and how we wished our lives to be different when we were in the middle of them. Yet, somehow we always come out on the other side. Worn out a bit, but dusting ourselves off and ready for more.

Whatever it has been - illness and death, adult sibling near-warfare, foundation shattering questioning of our life's path - we have come out whole, as a family. We go through it together, although sometimes in different ways and from different vantage points. We come out together.

My children experience life differently than I did at their ages. My parents shielded us from the "real" world, from disagreements and difficulties. My parents also were in a new country, with no siblings, parents or other relatives anywhere near them. Perhaps because I didn't have a model for how to deal with life on the outside of the insular family, perhaps because we homeschool and have chosen to spend the majority of our time with our children, my kids have gone through the wringer with me.

I think they are stronger for it. They understand financial distress in a real way - not just in "we can't afford that" terminology, but in an understanding of the family's debt to income ratio, our comfort level with risk, and our long range goals. They have a better understanding of old age, illness and death. Most of all, they know that the world isn't going to come to an end each time a roadblock is thrown in their path. They know they will come out of a difficult time, perhaps changed or scarred, but they will emerge on the other side. I think I was in my later 30s when I truly understood that.