Sunday, January 14, 2007

Identity Theft

My identity seems to have been lost...or stolen, somehow. This time I don't mean I've misplaced my wallet, or left it in a store, or forgotten it at home while I'm out and about running errands 30 miles from home. I mean, to the core of my being I feel a bit lost these days. I find myself questioning every identifying element of my person--my politics, my place of worship, where I fit in a community...even my parenting methods.

Logan has been particularly difficult to discipline lately and I am too well-read in this area. I have information overload. So, am I an "Attachment Parenting" mom, or a "Dare to Discipline" mom, or a "Gentle Christian" parent? I don't even trust my instinct here, because I tend towards too strict a response. So, what am I to do when he raises a FIST in the air to me and growls? I have tried asking him if he is a lion...but that doesn't address the anger (an emotion he has the right to express--just not in a way that disrespects his mother...). I've tried the understanding tone, asking him, patiently, "Why are you so angry, Logan?" or "What's making you so upset, Logan?" but his answer is almost always, "I don't KNOW!" and even upon further questioning we don't get all too far there. So, I've tried leaning over & getting in his face and sort of growling back, "You do NOT raise a FIST at your MOTHER!" but it hasn't curbed his doing so. I have, of course, gone the Time Out Route, where he argues with me the whole way that he doesn't "want" the time out; to which I reply, "It doesn't matter what you want, young man, you have earned a Time Out." (What I really want to do is invoke a little Mick Jagger, "You can't always get what you want...but if you try sometime, you might just find you get what you neeeeed!!"). We have tried physical discipline when his disrespect is attrocious--raising his fist, growling and glaring with a very mean face. A spanking on the bare bottom, then a Talking To about his behavior as inappropriate, unacceptable, or wrong...I'm not sure that has, either, made any change. I believe in consistent discipline, and yet I'm hunting & pecking on this one.

No matter which method, my husband and I still see this fist-raising, growling little angry man glaring back at us daily. So, we have tried to be more consistent in our own niceness towards one another (Tom says, simply, "We have to be good to each other"), and I think that is a great approach, although it may take the most amount of time to see change in him if we put on a seemingly more perfect parenting face in his presence.

Once anger is out there it does seem to steal time. It has taken me years to separate my anger from my identity. Seeing this on my son's otherwise cherubic face (insert smiling squinty-eyed photo here....if only I understood the technology of this site or another to do so...) is shaking my core, you see? Who is he? And, really, who am I?

I remember exercises in school--maybe in the 8th grade or so--we wrote our names in the center of a piece of paper and drew outside of ourselves all of the people who identify us--our peers, our Shapers. I wrote "Lisa," then circled it and wrote around my name in the next circle, the members of my nuclear family--sister & parents. I am a sister and a daughter. Then outside of them I was instructed to write in other members of family--uncles, aunts, grandparents and the like. I am a niece, a granddaughter, a cousin, etc... Then I could see myself as a friend, neighbor, an American, and a HUMANOID (I hate that word--so it's written here as a joke to my husband. How about "Earthling?" Does that strike less of a geeky chord? Nah... "Citizen of the world?" OK I can go with that).

Yes, yes, all of those identifiers, or labels, are easy to assign, but they aren't helping me right now. Am I any longer a Republican, for example? This is a pretty big question! I certainly do not see myself as a Democrat, since I do see myself as "Pro-Life," and yet as a newly-labeled Crunchy Con I struggle with this question of political posture. I am, indeed, a tree-hugger. I get incensed, in fact, at watching wasted water rushing down the sink, and go a bit nuts when recyclables end up in our trash bin. I'm maybe becoming a bit neurotic in this way. We cloth diaper our daughter, for example. This seems socially edgy. We use washable cloth napkins at every meal. I am planning on homeschooling our children--maybe even UNschooling!! I feel like all these positive fringe choices raise the eyebrows of many in my surrounding circles (as previously listed), but I have to choose what is good as I see it--or as we see it.

It's that "we" that can oftentimes sharpen me the most. I know I have changed so significantly in 11 years of marriage. I am more like my husband in some areas, but even less like him than ever in others. This, too, speaks to the struggle of identity.

What do I know about "Me" these days? I know that I am planning on living in Heaven after I die, so I try to keep my eye on that understanding at least. Even as I wrestle here with my identity, I am fixed on the future--the Me that is identified in Christ. I am reading as much as I can to understand who Christ said He is--not even what the Church has taught me, but only what I hear directly from His words as recorded in the New Testament. Who did he REALLY say He is? This is the Authentic Search I am on. What Christian Community will most answer this need in me? We continue to look.

Today we attended a church we'd read about online--aligned with the Vision Forum model. When we arrived there were already six people seated before the pastor--they are meeting in a hotel meeting space. Six people--and we were 20 minutes late (got a bit misdirected on the way). So, it was SMALL, OK? Afterwards the pastor told us the church is folding. So, even if we sought out & found that church, which seemed (online, at least) to meet some of the requirements we have for the community we are seeking, it has already diminished down to the pastor, two of his five children, his mother and three additional friends (his wife was home with one of their sick daughters).

So, we will continue the search...for our identity. Or at least a part of it. Thank God I can see the end!

2 Peter 3:13
But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

1 comment:

Jen Sayre said...

Maybe your angry little guy can get together with my angry little guy and they can terrorize each other! I don't get the fist in the air, but I get finger points and a very adamant "No, I WON'T!" And I tell myself, "I swear, I have tried to raise him with good manners! What went wrong?" I think they just like to push boundaries at this age. At least that's what I tell myself!!

Hang in there, you're not alone on this issue!
Jen S.