Lil Bit: Mama, I made you a bowl of soup, so you don’t forget to eat lunch. I made the chips look like a rose!
Sometimes we underestimate their awareness, the small things that they take note of.
It is as if from that lower vantage point they see us in such an exalted light at times, but they also… well, they have a good view of our bad side, too. Up-shots are often artistic but rarely flattering. Ask any photographer. It’s a hard angle to pull off, and it’s basically the the only one our kids get, when we are busy and moving about life.
Lil Bit: Mama, I made you a bowl of soup, so you don’t forget to eat lunch. I made the chips look like a rose!
She knows my habits and character. I cannot deny that. This sweet daughter of mine saw a need and an opportunity to serve me, as I was not caring for myself, and for that I am immensely glad.
Still, there is another message I was sending, and that angle wasn’t really great. That up-shot angle can be tricky and we sometimes forget that their little camera is always running, taking it in.
What she learned is a potential future, and what the role of a mother can look like. That moms don’t feed our care for themselves. That they lose sight of their own needs, not just in happy sacrifice, but even in downright, oblivious disregard for their own bodies at times.
Wait that’s not what I want her learning. That’s not motherhood at all. That’s not me.
Moms don’t take care of themselves. Moms ignore the needs of their bodies, and healthy nourishment. I wish I could say this message only applies to food, but that would be a lie. I’m going to tell you why.
She doesn’t see me pray enough.
It’s not that I don’t pray, it’s that I do it so privately. It occurs to me now that they don’t even often know that I have private prayers, on top of what we do as a family.
She doesn’t see me read anything fun, because all my reading is educational, training, pressing in for more. Never to just be. Will I want her to always press so hard?
She doesn’t see my hobbies or dreams, because I crowded them out with other tasks to do. Where will her dreams go, the ones we are working so hard to nurture in here now?
Our life is good and full. We play board games, we roam, we invent, we build and plan our farm, we dream and work as a team. We live well and we love hard. Togetherness is our thing and it is downright glorious.But my daughter isn’t seeing my full potential, because I’m not living it. Heck, she hasn’t even seen me write.
What could she see as her own future potential, when she reads between my lines and margins, to see what matters to me and what I’m willing to invest there? Will she know how to invest in HER? How will she know to chase her dreams, and know that she is fully capable of doing it?
So here I am, friends. I’m invested.
She sees me.
She’s looking up.
She’s not even the only one.What dream do you want your child to catch you chasing, to see in their up-shot view of who Mom is?
Share it with me!
Special needs momming is a full time job, and the business model is super complicated. I spent Tuesday at the psychologist with Ruckus, working on a round of updated evaluations. Wednesday I was in Atlanta again, from dawn to dusk for Mozart’s day with his health team. It was planned and well prepared for. The other four children had their needs well met in my absence.
Yet my little Cricket, whose sensitive heart struggles with anxiety and trust after losing his first family, woke today with a deep need for constant connection with me. And by that, I mean I spent my morning as a piece of furniture.
I set aside my mental to-do list to let him have his time, and be present. That’s a hard thing to do when tasks snowball and the weekend is coming with no free time to squeeze the laundry into.
I help him. We colored, snuggled, watched Mr. Rogers and Highway to Heaven, both in one day!! His joy was immense, and I loved it!
Still, that epic battle of “to Martha or to Mary” battled in the back of my head.
Because I still can’t get the knack of how to be still and know.
Now it’s after his bedtime. I have that mile long to-do list and a decision to make.
Be. Still. Know.
How much I know depends on the day and a thousand variables reliant on the actions and choices of several other people, both in and outside of my home and family.
What I KNOW is that this is complicated.
There are the days that my inner Martha spits the words back. Be STILL? When? How? Have you not seen? Even my to-do list has it’s OWN to-do lists. Have you not heard? There are people calling Mama in rapid succession from 5 different directions. How then, do I fit in being still?
Yet there are the times that a Mary spirit wells up within me. I kick off my shoes to ground myself on the earth He’s given and I throw agenda to the side, to watch children fly away with their imaginations and meld into the wonder of the life around me. We breath in fresh air and run in fields. We know how to BE.
I can never decide if this verse is meant to be a deep call to intimacy with my Maker, or a chastising of my flesh for being so easily consumed by what I have to do, seeing that I really do HAVE to do a huge amount of doing!
If asked, I could never decide who it’s for, my Martha or Mary, and I have finally decided it comes down to the day I’m having, every day.
And this is why.
We, the lovers of Christ, have a habit of remembering verses in small tidbits. We like small bites because then we can say that we ate today.
I’m learning to take the time to look them up and enjoy the pages of my Bible in fuller context.
Decision made. Those words have run through my head all day. Be. Still. Know.
I’m looking up the chapter.
Ladies…. this “be still and know” one is nestled smack in the middle of Psalm 46, and the rest of it is FULL of context that we all need.
Just look for yourself (below)! That little verse that has vexed me is so much better when I stand back and see it as part of this full work God inspired.
He is ever-present. God is within her, she will not fall. He makes wars cease.
He writes of refuge and fortresses, I think of hiding in the laundry room, folding, but also of blanket forts and reading nooks. The word mountain always conjures up laundry to me, however the streams and rivers call to mind his great wisdom in creating the coffee and the constant flow here in my kitchen. And also, chocolate. He lifts is voice? Did someone turn on The Fish radio station again?
The last two years I’ve been mostly gone from the internet publicly. My family needed safety and seclusion (for details on that, read THIS PREFACE and sign up for the list. So while, I can joke about the mom thoughts and snark this chapter brings up, my heart hears the promises it holds. Promise of protection and God’s faithfulness. We have been cocooned in tightly. Now it’s time to spread wings again.
After all this time, I know. It’s for all the days. Every one of them whether I feel the depth of stillness welling within my soul, or I’m grappling with stilling my struggle with self.
It’s there, every day.
He has us.
He is with us, we will not fall.
The least I can do is listen.
I can BE.
I can STILL.
I can KNOW.
It’s more than the verse. He gives us whole chapters, my friends.
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. 5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. 6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields[d] with fire. 10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
We thought it was an Amazon Delivery, of all things. I had just returned home from a long needed night out with a good friend, a fellow mom of many. My daughter and I bounded to the door, excited to see which of us got to open whatever it was.
My mom-friend-date had been fantastic. We ate, we laughed, we shared our prayers, our joys and struggles. We felt renewed and strengthened by our time together. We relaxed and enjoyed our truth.
It had been a mere thirty-four hours since I sat in a courtroom and heard the judge’s decision. The parental rights of the boys’ biological family were officially terminated, and they were legally made orphans by the court. The judge looked across the courtroom at me and, in front of all involved, declared us their pre-adoptive home. He said it out loud. It was real. I walked alone to my car. Feelings of joy and love flooded me, while the aching, writhing pain for the loss that was involved still gripped at my heart. Yes, we gained sons. But the hope of another family just died in there, right in front of my eyes. Not because of me, but it happened all the same. All hope for them is gone. I hadn’t expected to cry. We had known for months that the case was headed this way. We all knew this was the day. But the moment I buckled myself in and stopped to exhale in the seclusion of my car, the rolling waves of reality tumbled to the forefront and took over. I sobbed and wailed, emotions filled the air to a bursting level that no physical body could contain and stay poised and composed. Certainly not mine, anyway.
I wrecked myself, right there in the parking lot.
They will be our sons! But they lost their first mom forever, today. They will take our name! They will lose the one they have known. They will always be brothers and sisters with ours! They may never know those who share their blood.
These are not small things. If they are now my sons, I am the mom who will have to walk through the future with them, and the struggle with these things will come. I can not protect them from it. I cannot undo their loss. There is no escaping or pretending that they didn’t lose as much as they won today. For thirty-four hours there was joy and hope and rest. Fourteen months we had supported any plan of reunification with biological family, unwaveringly. We prayed and hoped for the best of God’s plan and submitted to it fully, knowing that the loss of them in our lives may come. I never considered that as pressure. I was never afraid. But when that focus was lifted and we were now given the right to focus on them being ours, I felt like a new mom. It’s hard to explain how the release of it overcame me. Consider this. We had parented these boys with as much love as any DNA could have offered, from day one. We never made a distinction in our care for them, other than to doggedly offer love and support to their first family as well. But to be told that, after 408 days of parenting them as someone else’s children, we would now parent them as our own. It was a slight shift, made in a few sentences and the short sound of a gavel’s fall.
Huge change. The future stretched before us with immeasurable possibilities. It felt as exhilarating and joyous as the first day of life with each of our biological children, just as powerful. It was a glorious, staggering reality.
For thirty-four hours.
The following night I went out with a fellow warrior-mom, as I said. I came home to the younger children in bed and my husband and teenager in a deep discussion on the couch. A home of peace and calm. All was well. The sound of the dishwasher running was so soothing. I remember that.
Our actual kitchen. I can hear the dishwash running, just looking at it.
I sat down to join them, in the depths of debate. There was a plate of cookies. It was about 10pm.
It wasn’t Amazon at the door.
To be continued.
Regular bloggedy things will commence soon, but what you just read is the preface of something unique. For details on this simple tale, what it’s about and where it’s going, ya gotta sign up for the mailing list.
Moms love new inventions, we do. Something new comes to the market, promising to save a few moments of our precious time and we line up like lemmings with eyes glazed over, ready to throw down some dollars and
We’ll take that extra 35 seconds of daily relief on the couch,
Maybe an extra minute of deep yoga breathing before crawling out of bed in the morning,
I am so thankful that my last post, Raise Your Hand if Your Hands are Full has spoken to so many of you. Thank you so much for reading my post and taking a minute to comment or share. To be honest, I felt like I was ranting and raving a bit over something that really should not be such a big deal. It shouldn’t work me up so much, right? There are times that it doesn’t, to be sure. When it is said with a smile, or a tone that does not imply shock, or horror, or give the feeling that the person would rather have any life but yours…. The nice ones are not the norm.
I was asked by a couple of people today why this statement is so offensive to moms, when it seems so well meaning. Over dinner with my family, fighting over who got the most delicious looking nachos, I took a step back to think through my reactions and process what the statement of “You have your hands full” implies and why it feels like a very big deal. So the truth is that it many times is not offensive. But we all know that some-kind-percentage-that-is-a-lot of speech is body language and tone. THAT is what this is about.
1. A child who is often badly behaved is called “a handful”. I have 4 children. The statement of “You have your hands full.” has a pretty close correlation and it’s easy to conclude that they two go together. If I have my hands full, it sounds like my children must be a handful. They are not. They are friggin’ AWESOME!
2. I get the hands full comment at least once a week. This was the 4th time in 2 weeks. I’m sure moms of more children get it even more often. It just gets old… Like a good friend of mine who’s last name is Scheidt (pronounced Shite). Do you really think he needs to hear someone comment on it? AGAIN?!?!?
3. I have never had someone say it with a look or tone that implies they admire my position. I DO get comments that are wonderful and encouraging. When people complement my children or myself, it has never been with such a knee jerk statement. They typically use their own words or something about how they miss theirs, wish they had had more, etc.
4. In other instances in life where we see someone with their “hands full”, we assume that they need help. Maybe they are about to drop something. A picture of a lone woman with arms full of groceries in the rain comes to mind. They must be overloaded. And that the “full hands” certainly can’t hold anything else, so what else is there to me? I am not overloaded. In fact I am sure we will have at least 2 more children.
5. It is always an unsolicited comment. Typically by someone who is watching you with so many kids, and then accidentally makes eye contact and can’t think of anything to say. They’re uncomfortable. They realize that they were gawking and assume that you really give a hoot about it. It’s like the southern habit of saying “Well, bless your heart.”. Which is really the same as calling someone a fool in need of pity. Well, To quote my childhood crush, Mr. T, I pity the fool who doesn’t understand how rocking fun my life is.
6. For a busy mother who loves her life with her kids (even if she looks haggard) it gives us the same feeling that it gives a single woman when she is patronized for being alone. “You’re such a LOVELY girl. I just can’t believe some nice man has not snatched you up yet.” That single girl may love the way her life is, or she may want a man in it. Whichever way she feels, the comment just kinda sucks. It’s not doing anything for her, and just makes the person speaking feel good about saying something.
7. Ultimately, it often unintentionally implies that this is all work. Mothering more than 2 is just so, so much that it is astonishing. The person making the statement is looking at me and what I must have to do and how much it is to deal with. The statement never accounts for the 4 little people standing before them, or acknowledges them as the amazing individuals that they each are. It is a comment that focuses on what appears to be overwhelming, without mention of the overwhelming wonder that each and every child is.
It never would have bothered me before I had kids, so I can understand why it doesn’t make sense to some. And maybe we as moms of more than 2 kids are too sensitive. Every now and then someone says it with such a smile that I know they mean well. It’s rare, and those cases don’t bother me a bit. But that is not the norm, I assure you. I don’t know many moms who take the hands full statement as a compliment. I feel like that is saying something about what it implies to us?
We love our kids. We love using our hands. We hold them and care for them daily.