Friday, January 15, 2010

What "Clark Family" means to me

I'm not generally one to spend my time justifying or explaining myself to others (an odd comment coming from someone who blogs regularly, but that is not the intent of my posts). I long ago let go of most of my concern for what others think of me or my decisions. I still care how they feel for their sake, but not usually because of how it affects me (as with anything, I am not perfect in this respect. I have my moments). Sometimes, however, I do feel like I need to make a statement regarding who I am, or want to be.

This one may seem a bit odd. I won't delve into the particulars, though I imagine there will be some who understand why I feel pushed to write it.

My family is the "Clark family". My kids are the "Clark kids". We are "the Clarks". What that means to me is. . .

adventure. It means people who like to go exploring at the drop of a hat, whether that means spending 20 minutes or 10 hours in the car or on foot. We love to get out and do stuff.

fun-loving. Good-natured teasing, playful flirtation and happy, loving affection define our daily habits of interacting with each other in our home.

energy. It means intense, wonderful personalities all more than not successfully nurturing and taking interest in each other's diverse interests and talents.

communication. It means usually understanding each other pretty well, and taking time to make the effort to get patiently, calmly and lovingly through the rough patches where we're not understanding someone. It means some hard conversations between parent and child, child and child, or husband and wife, but overall very little angry yelling, sad sulking, or neglectful ignoring.

striving. It means recognizing that our Creator blesses all of us with individual talents and it means appreciating those gifts, rather than hiding them or boasting about them. It means trying to find the best ways to make the most of those gifts in order to serve Him and our family, friends and loved ones. It means recognizing that there's always someone better than you, but that that should give you something to strive for, something to be inspired by, to remind you that you can always grow a little more.

animal lovers. Whether it means our little girl snuggled up with the cat, our son hugging the dog, or daddy trying to find a way to get a horse, we are a family that loves creatures and critters big and small.

content but not complacent. It means a family full of people who generally lack much envy, but who always have goals.

devotion. Doug has a lot of friends, I have a lot of friends, and both our oldest children have a lot of friends, but the people we spend by far the most amount of time with, who we speak with the most honestly and openly, who we feel closest to and comfortable with, are each other. Loyalty, in thought, word and deed, is of the highest importance in our home. I hope that we can maintain that closeness as our children grow older and have more interests/friends pulling them in a thousand different directions. I hope that the balance of individual freedom and coupled devotion in our marriage will set an example and tone for the rest of the relationships in our family as our children grow.

kids. It means focus on babies and children, and, eventually, teenagers--focus on teaching and loving. I spend 90% of my life with people under 6, and I couldn't be happier. Doug admittedly struggles with patience with most people, and I've decided its because he saves all of it for his children--they are the lucky offspring of a man who is patient, attentive, affectionate and playful with them. Every decision we make always factors in "How will this affect the kids? What will it teach them?" Though we often struggle with it with others, our hearts are soft toward our children. Ours is a home where all children are welcome, and extras are often found hanging about.

gratitude. It means a house where most prayers have more, "We thank thee"s than "We ask thee"s. It means recognizing that we have been tremendously blessed, and focusing on that instead of the few trials that come our way. When we went to Disneyland for Doug's birthday, Keilana was pretty whiny the day before, getting ready. I said, "Keilana, should I just leave you here? You're a pretty lucky girl to get to go Disneyland. You should be happy." The day after we got home, I thanked her for being such a good girl on the trip (its pretty amazing that any 5 year old would spend 12 hours on her feet and not whine once). She shrugged her shoulders and then said with some enthusiasm, "Thanks for taking me to Disneyland!" Most of the time, they're both pretty good with the "thanks you"s.

There are many other things that define us as a family, of course. And we have many flaws, too, both as individuals and as a group, but I think its more productive to work on the flaws without dwelling on them. Miserable people always remind themselves how they're failing. Happy people recognize failures, address them and find joy in their little victories. As a very wise woman once said, "Ideals are something to strive for, not beat ourselves over the head with."

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