Monday, December 31, 2007

Inner Child or Unclean Spirit

Out of the mouths of babes comes some sort of crazy sense.

Christmas Eve found the Frau, the Mother-in-Frau, the Puppinator and me at my mother's house (with my sister and her fam) for the annual family exchange of carnal commercialism. I'm sure I sound very righteous expressing our little Christmas get-together thus, but this little entry should vanquish any illusions of righteousness on my part. I guess I just need a few moments of confession and self-absolution before 2008 commences.

At any rate, it was Christmas Eve, and my mother was warning the Frau that I am too much like my father and really just an overgrown kid - especially at this time of year. At which point my 11 year old neice and 12 year old nephew commented that it was just my "inner child trying to get out." We all had a good laugh, but the comment has stuck with me throughout the holidays. In fact, you could say I've been letting the essence of it steep like a good pot of tea for days.

I think I'm starting to identify more closely with the warring parts of myself. The external adult part of me loves to give just the right present at this time of year, whether as an expression of love, friendship or appreciation, with no expectation of anything in return. My inner child, on the other hand, wants to purchase these gifts whether I can afford them or not. This part of the equation I've had worked out for quite some time. A new variable seemed to enter the picture this year, though, and it surprised me. The Frau and I had agreed earlier in the fall that we needed to be conservative this year and try to eradicate some debt we've accumulated. To be fiscally spartan for a few months now could result in many months of financial freedom in the near future. My external adult heartily affirmed that course. My inner child couldn't stand not having a few small surprises under the tree for the Frau. My external adult knew that the Frau's adult side is MUCH more pragmatically established and would probably stick to the agreement to hold off on Christmas presents and was perfectly ok with that. My inner child pouted. And pouted. And shocked my external adult. My external adult took my inner child to the woodshed, and reminded that ungrateful child that she has vacations for life in the time share we recently purchased, and that in another month or so (when those bills have gotten under control) she would probably also be the proud owner of an I-Phone. The petulant child finally got control of herself and came out of her funk, but it took a couple of days.

All of this really shocked me - the adult me, that is. I haven't acted that broodingly childish in quite sometime. Whether the adult me is making excuses for the child, I'm not quite sure, but I don't think it was the lack of presents in number or expense that was at issue. Both the Frau and I got more presents than we deserved from our family and friends. We aren't lacking in that department, and are, in fact, quite blessed. But my "inner child" (as described by my neice and nephew) is that spontaneous, impulsive, and sometimes overly generous side of me - and it's the side that tends to be "the giver" at times like the holidays. And I guess I was disappointed that the Frau didn't get "childish" over me. The truth - and I know this - is that just isn't who she is. She is supremely pragmatic, and she is showing her love in far more practical and adult ways - seeing that we manage our money well so this "child" can ultimately have her travels and books and expensive new techno toys. And if she becomes "childish," that takes us off course.

The even greater truth is - I love her - and her pragmatism. As I know she loves (and sometimes tolerates!) my inner child. And while I don't think I need to banish my inner child, I do think my external adult needs to take over some of the child's responsibilities - principally, that of being "the giver." The adult just handles it better.

Silence, Lord, the unclean spirit,
in our mind and in our heart.
Speak your word that when we hear it
all our demons shall depart.
Clear our thought and calm our feeling,
still the fractured, warring soul.
By the power of your healing
make us faithful, true and whole.
~ Thomas H. Troeger in Borrowed Light

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