Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Family

Family. It is the basic and most fundamental unit of society. I have a family. We all do in some way or another. The definition of family is broad and can encompass a vast ocean of circumstances and situations. I consider myself to have quite a large family that includes not only immediate and extended relatives but friends as well. I am a product of my environment, and I was lucky to have such great family influences while growing up. It has been a major contributor to the formulation of my ideals, norms, and expectations. As a child, the natural course of life was to grow up, get married and have my own family. That's what everyone did. I believe children usually have the most clear sense of what is most important in this world. As we grow older, we are distracted by life, education and other interests that pull us away from what truly brings joy in this life. Oh, to have the foresight and simple wisdom of a child.

I love watching little girls as they hold and mother their dolls. It's almost a natural instinct in females to want to be mothers and nurture others. I'm not quite sure when we grow out of that or mute that instinct. It is often hard to get it back the older we get. I don't believe it ever really goes away because we catch glimpses of it when we see or hold little babies or watch our nieces and nephews. It's a feeling of belonging and family. But we are easily distracted by work, play, goals, ambitions, traveling, repsonsibilities, finances... the list could go on and on. We make up excuses about why now is not the right time and keep telling ourselves that next year will be better or maybe the year after that or when we buy that house we have been dreaming of or get that much deserved promotion or go on that big safari. But the truth is... is it ever the perfect time? Probably not. Having your own family is a sacrifice, a huge responsibility and a lot of work, which is probably what scares and/or deters people away from doing it. I admit that there have been times when I have thought the same thing, not that I ever seriously entertained thoughts of not having a family or growing old alone sitting in a rocking chair on my porch surrounded by cats. But when I think of the alternative of not having a family, it seems far more devastating than the sacrifice of having one.

What are we really sacrificing for the blessings of a family? Travel time, money, free time, sanity. What are we gaining? Love, posterity, home, life. It seems to me that the benefits are far more valuable than the sacrifices and are a lot less selfish. Is it hard? Sure, but I have never met a parent who said who it wasn't worth it. Some people go into it knowing everything there is to know about family, raising children, how to get them to sleep, what to feed them, what to expect, etc. Others go into it with a blindfold on willingly not doing the research because they more they know the more frightening it becomes. I think I fall into the latter group. When I committed to the Ironman, I only had a limited/outsider understanding of what it truly entailed. It would have been harder to convince myself to commit if I had known about the time commitment, the investment, the aches and pains, the mental exhaustion. I saw the finish line. I saw incredible athletes who enjoyed the experience regardless of the pain they may have endured as a result. I saw people who were disciplined, strong and had an incredible sense of self and their abilities. That's why I wanted to do it, and it was one of the best things I ever did. It's much the same with family. I see the beauty, the love, the stretching of my potential, the challenge of everything I have ever learned, the opportunity to protect, love and teach. If I really had any concept of how difficult and challenging it would/will be, it might have taken me another 10 years to convince myself to do it and by then it would probably have been too late.

We don't have families for the glory and honor of being parents because heaven knows parents get little of that these days. We do it because we know that there is more to life than the daily grind, the corner office, the millions, the awards and what the world deems as successful and important. At the end of any given day all of those things could be gone and you would only be left with what was truly yours to have... your family.

9 comments:

Cafe Johnsonia said...

I was just thinking the other day that the people who put off having families or don't have them at all are really missing out on the truest form of happiness I've ever experienced. I have to hang on to that because it is hard sometimes, but the joys are so joyous. I can't imagine life without my kids. (As Lilly starts to scream right in my ear...)

Tris & Ken said...

Well said. Strange how the most amazingly profound and fulfilling relationships in our lives can be OH SO PAINFUL at the same time. I guess it all goes hand in hand. And I guess it's always the perfect time to sacrifice for your family.

Naomi and Josh Davis said...

wow nikki. you have no idea how much i needed to hear this, mainly to be reassured about what matters most in life and that it's okay if other people don't don;t agree. thank you.

Beth&Cody said...

Since I am on a motherhood sabbatical right now, I have been able to reflect on the differences in my life. Sure I have more free-time to write or Cody and I can go for a walk or see a movie at night but it all just pales in comparison to one moment with Morgan. Helping raise Heavenly Father's children while growing ourselves is the whole point and I'm so grateful to be a part of it.

Rebecca said...

Just read the line in Eat Pray Love about flexibilty and devotion. Kind of like what you're talking about here--you have to be flexible. I don't think I'm making sense to anyone but myself right now...

Emma said...

So true. And good to remember as I look down the barrel of a bad economy on a rainy day when it's hard to get out of the messy apartment. Thank you.

Nicole Cave said...

Ok, I think you posted something on this subject awhile back...I think you should "Just do it". It is not easy at all but it is what makes life worth living.

Scotty Sarah Asher Graham said...

I just love reading your thoughts. You seem to put them in writting so perfectly. I am glad you have blog to see what is going on in your life. Miss ya

Tamara said...

I could not agree more. I can't wait to start our family and to enjoy the good and the bad.