Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Insomniac Insight

Hey. This is Ryan. It's 3:50 a.m. on the second day of class and I can't sleep. Rather, I fell asleep at about 9:30 p.m. and woke up with a thousand thoughts racing through my mind. I need to express them in order to process them, so you, dear readers, will now get to hear me babble. And maybe, just maybe, you can help me make sense of what is going on in my mind.

I read my mother's journal yesterday. It was a "Miss-My-Mama" Sunday. I did not read all of it, but highlights. For those of you who know me well, know I lost my mother when I was 14 years old to lupus. Well, that's what the doctors told us but I think there was something else wrong, too. Especially after reading yesterday. A lot of things have made me wonder why it affected me so much ... well, besides the obvious "She's your mom, dummy!" My mother loved me and my brothers. At least, that's what is recorded in her journal. Her world revolved around my three brothers and I but mostly my father.

As I read, I realized the profound love my mom had for my dad. It started from the age of 12. I naturally reflected on my own marriage and relationship with my children. I realized that in three more years, I will be the same age as Mom when she died. It kind of hit me hard. In my nine-year marriage, have I loved my wife and children as deeply as my mother loved us in the same amount of time? I know it's not healthy to compare yourself to others, but we Hansens are a competitive lot. We want to be the best all the time and then rub your face in it. Some call us cocky; I choose to label it as, "confidence."

Anyway, certain things really stood out. First, we all struggle with raising our children. However, I've been criticized for my unrealistic - nay, perfectionistic - expectations I have for my kids. I know where I get it from now. My mom wanted the best for us. She enrolled us in clogging, piano, wrestling, baseball, football, band and other activities so that we had a variety of talents. She says January 6, 1985, (about four years to the day before she died), "I guess I need to conclude by writing my love for my children. It seems that I often criticize when in my heart I recognize their effort and their ability to try so hard. It's easy to demand performance from them. It probably appears to them that I want perfection at all times - causing them sometimes to get discouraged. But what it really is, is my desire for them to do their very best. I want them to feel self-confident and assured that they can do anything! I know their potential and it is great."

That about sums up my feelings for my kids. So, here's the question: How do you encourage your kids to live to their potential? And is my idea of what their potential is realistic? I feel like my mom taught me so many things in the short 14 years I had her. She wrote this in the same paragraph (which makes me get a little emotional): "Ryan tries so hard to please us as parents. ... His personality is very loving. He can often be obnoxious - but I don't think he understands that. I just try to teach him what it means to be a friend - not to worry about what friends can do for you, but what you can do for them. ... I love Ryan so much. I want him to be happy and know what an important person he is. Since the time he was a little boy, he had been so thoughtful and creative on special occasions and holidays. He leaves little notes that say, 'I love you.' I am so thankful to have a son like him."

I loved my mother because she loved me. I need to focus on my children's strengths and not their weaknesses. I need to seek to understand before I chastise. My children will know how much I love them and, in turn, love others based on my example. I guess it's late (or early), so my thinking is going a million miles an hour.

The other thing I have swirling in my brain right now is the news I received today that a dear friend's husband has left her and her children. It made my heart ache. I am so worried about it right now and I hope she is OK. She is a wonderful, amazing person who does not deserve to be treated this way. (Not that anyone would ever deserve it.) I want to punch her husband in the face. Our mutual friend asked, "Hansen, why are men the way they are if Heavenly Father wants them to be husbands and fathers? I mean, why would the natural man be so damned selfish if the whole plan for them is to devote themselves to families? What's up with that?"

My answer is that we forget. Mankind forgets. If there is one thing I've pulled out of the scriptures, history, my own life, etc., is that Man forgets his/her divinity. It is our challenge to remember where we came from and our "potential." There are so many eternal parallels we can make to our mortal lives. Just as my mother saw infinite potential in her four boys and husband, our Heavenly Father sees the same. We just forget. When I'm at school and surrounded by worldly things, I forget who I am. When my children are screaming at each other or the house is a mess, I forget who I am and react in a way that just reinforces their violence. My friend's husband has forgotten. He has forgotten who he is and what role he plays in the eternal plan of life. He has forgotten his potential. Unfortunately, there is a very steep price. He will answer for what he's done to the most sacred of our Father's creations - families. How I wish this wouldn't hurt my friend so much! But, I know it does and I hope she knows how much people love her and support her and are praying for her and her little family.

I'll end on this. I have not forgotten how much I love my wife. She is my everything. As I layed down on the couch after a looooong day at school, I pulled her near me and said, "I'm so glad I found you." I meant it. We compliment each other so well. She is beautiful inside and out. I hope I live up to my potential with her. She is fun, thoughtful, spiritual, loving, patient, ... I could go on. She's "practically perfect in every way."

My mother's writings have taught me to worship the ground my wife walks on. I told her the other day when we realized we needed to pay a bill and we wouldn't have the money for something she wanted that I was sorry. I'm sorry I don't make enough to provide her with the things she needs, let alone wants. But, this summer I've tried to give her other gifts. The house was usually clean and tidy when she got home from work. The kids were relatively behaved. When she wanted to go somewhere as a family, I dropped what I was doing to be with her. I hope she noticed.

I'll close with this thought: One day, early in our marriage, Lish wanted me to go with her somewhere (I don't remember where). I objected and threw a little fit because I was the husband and I didn't need to do whatever girly thing she wanted me to do. My mother-in-law is so great! She pulled me aside and said, "Sometimes, when we love someone, we do things we don't want to do just because we know it will make them happy."

I've never forgotten that. I am so glad she gave me that advice because I've lived by it. I hope Lish knows I'll go wherever she wants because I love her. I want to make her happy.

Phew! I got all that off my chest. Maybe now (at 5 a.m.) I can get a couple of hours of sleep before running off to school. I hope this post inspires you to ponder what is important in life - our commitment to our loved ones. Tell someone you love them today. Write a note and stash it somewhere where they will find it. This is my love note for my everything. I love you, Lish.


Jill said...

Lish-you are one lucky lady.

Ryan, you express yourself well. I enjoyed reading your ramblings.

Sandi said...

Wow. I started crying too when I read what your mother said about you, Ryan. And then by the end of your post I was pretty much bawling. You and Lisha are such great people and we love having you as our friends.

P.S. Let me know if you want to organize a face-bashing party for your friend's husband--I'm in!

Darci said...

I wish my ramblings were as kind. thanks for sharing your thoughts. Paul sort of hit that phase when he outlived his dad...actually quite a few years ago. His dad died in his early 20's so Paul can understand a little except he never got to meet his dad (on earth). Thanks again. You inspire us all to do better.

Scrappycook said...

Thank you Ryan. I'm sorry to have caused you to worry but I appreciate the worry all the same. You brought me to tears tonight. You are an amazing person/father/example and I am grateful to have reconnected with you and to have met your sweet family.

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