Still Learning to Be Still

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.

We spent much time snuggling, and watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood on Amazon Prime.

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.

 

We have the opportunity for love and therapy with many animals. Cricket and I took advantage of a few minutes with a horse today.

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.

Psalm 46

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.

 

 

The Knock That Shook Our World

 

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.

We celebrated.

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.  

Actual photo I sent my husband. From the parking lot after the TPR hearing.

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 breath.
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.

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Whatever Wednesday: Moms Need a Break and 3 Inventions We May Not Want

~One of my recent time-sucker situations~

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,

The chance to shave BOTH legs today, even!

Yeah, we like time-saving schemes, for sure.
Continue reading “Whatever Wednesday: Moms Need a Break and 3 Inventions We May Not Want”

Raise BOTH Hands, If Your Hands Are Full – 7 Reasons The Statement Offends

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.

Yes, our hands are full.  Wanna give us a hand?

Reblogged from Your Momstinct.

Raise Your Hand, If Your Hands Are Full – For Moms of Many

 

It happened for the 4,356,837 time today.  As my four (not 10, not 21, just four) children and I stood in the checkout line at Walmart with their new flip flops in cart, someone behind me decided to say it.

“Wow! You sure have your hands full!”

We moms typically don’t know whether this is a compliment or not when you hear it. Until you see the body language and facial expression that accompany the much over-used line, you are immediately put on guard.  We don’t have time to evaluate you. We are with our children.

I turn and look to see a nice thin, tall hippy/earthy looking woman in her fifties who has the look of being happily single her whole life and terrified of kids.  She was scowling.
Yes, I looked. No ring.
Only a look of horror on her face as she took in the view of my little brood, looking down her nose with lips pursed tight.
She surely has cats. Lots of ’em.

I put on a smile, so as not to scare her, and rattle of my well-rehearsed standard response. God calls us to be kind, especially to strangers.

“Well, better than empty. At least they’re full of life!”  

Don sweetest smile.
Turn back around to my kids.

It was then,
THEN…

“I just can’t even imagine… WHAT possessed you??”

Yes…she did.  I couldn’t make that up.
She said possessed.

I took a deep breath to reel in my inner Madea.  I know the hair standing on my neck had to show, and the raising of my right eyebrow couldn’t be helped.
I turned again, using my happiest sarcastic voice…

“What possessed me? As in…demons?

Do my kids look like the product of demon possession to you?
As for possession, these four are the most amazing people in my life and worth more than any other  POSSESSIONS that I have.
No demons involved in that.
I actually have REALLY good sex with my husband. And often.
Thanks for asking such an interesting question. That’s a first for me.”

She started to sputter, almost choked even, disclosing her experience with her brother having 5 boys and it just looked like so much work, and she didn’t  personally understand “the draw”, but she was sorry.….Oh, goodness.

I looked back one more time.

“It’s really fine. Have a great day.”

And then as it was my turn to check out, and all four were working together to unload the cart very nicely, the poor cashier smiles at me… and says…

“You sure have your hands full!”

Oh. Lord. Help…
Poor innocent, unaware, little Walmart employee.

I put the smile back up.
“Ya know, EVERYONE has their hands full.
Every. Single. One. Of. Us.
It’s up to you what you choose to fill them with. I choose THEM, every single day.”

She thought it was sweet. I didn’t look back at kid-free-scowler, but I’m sure she had some sort of interesting response.
I DID hear the couple behind her giggle, for the second time.

So in defense of our full hands, moms, let us all remember that not having them would only give us empty hands to fill.

 Maybe with a life consuming career.   Look up the definition of consumption, will ya? I don’t want life consumed, although I know those who love theirs.

How about 700 cats like this lady. Maybe just one or two cats? Or how about be a lover of dogs so you can  approach a mother at Piedmont Park  walking her adorable baby in a stroller, with the dog along, and fawn over the K9 while ignoring that there is an adorable little person right there that is actually more valuable. Oh wait, because they aren’t as important to you.
And we have pets. Well loved pets. It’s the section of the childless crowd that values their pet over small PEOPLE that get to me.

Ladies, we could be making bank. Empty hands-not-full could mean fistfuls of money!! If each of our spawn didn’t cost $5,439,345 to raise like all the websites say.  We are REALLY missing out on that cha-ching.

You really don’t want to get me started on possession and the American need to fill our lives with stuff instead of… LIVES.  Possessions, over people. Because if we had more, we’d never be able to take them aaaallll to Disney!?!?

You could just have empty arms without them, and fill them with whatever man you want.  History has shown that does not lead to the most FULL-filling lifestyle.

And, mothers, let us never EVER forget the women who have empty arms not by choice. Who ache to hold the hope and warmth of a unique and precious immortal soul in the shape of a child who calls her Mom.

A disdainful comment of  “You sure have your hands full.” is a downright attack on them, the moms who are moms but hands are not full. Those who would give anything and everything they can get their hands on, to fill their arms with the life and chaos we experience every day in our children.

So, rock your full hands, mamas!

Look at them in wonder and awe… see their strength and value.

And I encourage you to come up with a really great response. Memorize it, know it, and own it. Be prepared for the 1,000,001 of times it will be said to you if you have more than the standard two children.

 Because until our society values these small people over possession, OUR choice to fill our arms this wide and full will be critiqued and commented on, shocking this  possession obsessed culture day in and day out. 

For extra evidence to defend my point, here are my parents, with all 10 of us children, 8 children-in-law, and over 20 grandchildren (2 more on the way!). Do they look like they need pity?  They made huge sacrifices for us.  And I am so, so thankful for it every day.

THIS right here is what blessed looks like. Don’t ever doubt that.

To be fair, I have a career, I love our pets and I absolutely enjoy extra money and shopping.

It’s valuing these possessions over children, when they’re not even your own, that makes fire spew from my ears. There has always been a small portion of the population who disdain children, but it’s growing, my friends. Our children need to hear us respond in confidence, valuing who they are.

Comment with your favorite response to the remark, “You sure have your hands full.”  I could use some fresh ideas myself.
UPDATE: After being asked a few times today why the statement “You have your hands full!” is offensive, I spent some time thinking about it and wrote a follow up.

Raise BOTH Hands if Your Hands Are Full- 7 Reasons the statement offends

 Reblogged from my other blog, Your Momstinct.