Category Archives: motherhood

Not for Kings

I vaguely remember life before I had to crawl under the table after every meal to scrape up cold mashed banana and sweet potatoes before they hardened into cement.  Back in the old days, I had days off and could sleep in if I wanted.  I read novels.  I went out for coffee on a whim.  I could finish a project in a day.  Heck, I could finish a sentence without interruption!  I didn’t do laundry every day; I didn’t have to wipe the underside of the table after lunch.  And I didn’t have other people’s used food all over my shirt.

Understand, I wouldn’t say they’re the good old days.  They are just the old days.  Different.  I wouldn’t trade these laughter-filled, life-spilling-over, achingly sweet and fleeting moments with my young children.  Well, most of them.  I can look back at the BC years – before children – as a closed chapter in my history.  But the book’s not finished yet, so I’m not complaining that we have moved on.  If I tried to live in the old days, it would be miserable.  Compared to now, I was a selfish, lazy, idealistic, impatient yuppie who thought time mattered and I had to be clean to be happy.  I live by a different code now.  By necessity.  And by choice.

People ask me almost daily – how do you do it with five kids?!?  Honestly, I don’t do most of it.  I can’t do most of the stuff you do, like always be on time, eat when I want, have a coherent conversation with my peers, wear un-snotted clothes, stand still, not automatically explain big words, or focus.   But really, it was the first kid that sunk me.  I went from working forty hours a week, having days off and time to clean house and blow dry my hair – to being on-call 24 hours a day, responding to gibberish with an exhausted smile, making quality time for my husband, and learning to love my new life.  It was an adjustment for me that I hadn’t truly prepared for.  How can you?

Who are these foreign creatures and why won't they get out of my kitchen?
Who are these foreign creatures and why are they always in my kitchen?

If you’ve been a mom around a church for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of TP31B.  It’s not a vaccine.  It’s not a rogue illness or something to scrub off the underside of your table.  I’m referring to The Proverbs 31 Babe.  The lady described in the latter part of Proverbs chapter 31 is worthy of being emulated.  She’s supermom.  The chapter is full of advice from a mom to a young king – her son – about what to look for in a wife.  Before the lady part though, back in verse four, the king’s mom says, “It is not for kings O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine… Lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted.”

Save the supermom stuff that comes later for another blog.  This little line has recently become my mantra.  It is not for kings…  Obviously, this applies to wine here.  Yes, a king could do whatever he wants, technically.  But it doesn’t mean he should.  A king cannot make good decisions inebriated.  I get that.  I have been either pregnant or nursing for nine years now.  You don’t drink on the job; I have been on the clock for approximately 3,300 continuous hours now.  That doesn’t leave a lot of room for intoxication.

If you permit me to stretch this beyond the context, I think it applies to the queen in her castle too.  So I take it personally (though my castle is missing key items like turrets, a treasury room, and servants, I can still dream…)

It is not for kings (or queens) to stay up too late when they have official court business early in the morning (albeit in the kitchen hard boiling eggs for the little princes).

It is not for kings to plan a fun trip when their country is at war (though it sounds fun to spend a day with friends, if a little prince is sick or really has to finish his schoolwork, the priority is to stay home).

It is not for kings to wear their coronation attire every day (or even shirts that little hands and cuddly babies will drag shamelessly down at inopportune times in public).

It is not for kings to stare at Pinterest all day while eating something deep fried in chocolate (not that a king would ever do that…)

It isn’t that those things are bad… I don’t mean that staying up sometimes, or fancy clothes, or going on trips, or Pinterest, or certainly anything chocolate, is sinful.  But there is a time for everything.  And while you’re on the throne – it’s not the time.  I even repeat it in my head at the times I’ve wanted to do something very good – like an evening Bible study – but my husband worked late and I couldn’t just leave the kids to run wild alone, reenacting Lord of the Flies (or Angry Birds versus Darth Vadar – in diapers.)  No.  It was not for kings.

Did the king ever feel this was unfair?  Maybe, sometimes.  But I doubt he ever felt it to the point of not wanting to be king.  There are lots of perks to being king.  You are important; your word is law.  Everyone looks up to you.  You lead the parades, the victory marches, the feast days and celebrations.  Your subjects trust you with their lives, their futures.  You decide what everyone else is eating, wearing, hearing and seeing, and where they’re going.  You kiss babies.  You receive adoration.  You have got it made, mama – I mean, king.

I’m learning to say it when I’ve been trolling on Facebook too long.  It is not for kings to waste their time.  Or homeschooling mamas with needy toddlers and a sink full of dirty dishes.  Nurse the baby and then get thee off!

When I see a cute dress at the consignment shop I remind myself –  I can’t nurse in a sundress.  It is not for this season of life.  It is not for kings (well, queens.  That just sounds weird if I don’t make it feminine.)  

My friends plan a fun day at the beach with their older kids, but I have a baby and a toddler who can’t walk.  Double strollers don’t do well in sand.  It is a playdate not for kings.  Not for now.

I really want to answer the call of that pint of good chocolate ice cream beckoning me from the freezer.  I’ve earmarked it for a special occasion; lunchtime on a rainy Wednesday qualifies. Right?  But the kids are bouncing off the walls, literally, from the marshmallow fight they had in the living room an hour ago (I thought they were doing math while I finally jumped in the shower, honest!) and if they catch me it will make their stale bread and peanut butter that much more of a fight to force down.  It is not for kings.  I pull out leftovers instead.  And duct tape the freezer closed.

Often, mumbling the little catchphrase to myself helps to break the pity party pall immensely.  I am a child of the King.  I am royalty.  I could run around my castle in poofy skirts and eat whatever I want and sleep in and read and take selfies and hang out all day.  But that just lands royalty in the tabloids.  I dislike standing in the checkout line at Walmart enough already.  I certainly don’t want to be there stuffed in a shamless rack to be gawked at!  So I will not.  I choose not.  Well, as long as the duct tape holds on the freezer anyway.

Then I can move on to TP31B.  Aim high, daughter of the king.  Get on your knees under the table, and aim high.

Wooed

I’ve been a bit under the weather this week, and my thinking energy keeps getting all used up before I can work on posts without falling asleep on the keyboard.  But I was reading through my old blog a bit and came across a nice Spring one from last year.  Refreshing.

 (This was originally published here).

Cool, wet breeze wafts through the cracked window, swaying the curtains.  The lightness of lilac sweetness and Spring mud floats in on it.  My husband breathes deep beside me.  The children’s room is quiet, enrobed in overcast morning coziness.  I hear a creak as the wind checks the house’s solid walls.  Satisfied, it moves on.  The home is at peace.

I shift my bulging tummy and try to settle it against a pillow.  It kicks back at me.  The clock stands sentinel.  A few minutes after 5.  It’s Saturday.  Homeschool is over for the year (as much as homeschool can ever be, at least.)  No one need rush this morning.  White sheets are so soft.  They fit around my lumpy edges.  I am warm.  Breathing slowly.  Languid.

But why am I awake?  Had there been a noise that brought me back to consciousness?  I hear only pattering rain and a faint tick from the downstairs clock.  I heave my body over awkwardly.  The boys’ room door is still.  Did someone call me?  Long minutes pass.  My eyes close as I wait.  No voice.  Nothing audible.  But there is a sense.  I am being called.

Maybe it’s just the coffee pot.  I stir and sigh.  Maybe.  But it’s more than that.  Nothing tangible.  Nothing loud enough for my ears to detect.  But deeper than I can hear.  I am being called.

A line from an old Nora Jones song echoes in my brain.  It seems to come from far off.  “Come away with me…”  I heave me legs over the bedside.  The floor is cold.  “Come away with me… I’ll never stop… loving you.”  The stair sighs under my weight.  I hold my breath so I’ll be lighter.  Hope the children don’t hear my heartbeat quicken.  But nothing stirs.

Downstairs.  The clock ticks loudly now.  The refrigerator hums faithfully as I cross the kitchen threshold.  I click on the coffee pot.  The spicy warm smell of brown liquid quickens my mind, anticipating the caffeine.  Both hands clutch the familiar mug as I pad on bare feet to the sofa by the window.  Pink azaleas outside it have mostly passed.  Rain has made everything so green.  I lumber onto the cushions and settle with my Bible.  I am awake now.  Still I can almost but not quite hear.  I am being called.

“Daughter.  Child.”  It’s not the voice of children.  It’s older; more familiar even than my own offspring’s tremulous calls.  “You have come.”  I pull a small blanket over my feet.  Warmth spreads through me in welcome.  Is it from the coffee?

The pages of the big Book swish lightly.  I’m heading to Samuel.  To the book written by a prophet of God.  So long ago.  He was called.  He thought it was Eli, the aging man in the next room.  His mentor.  Samuel was young.  His ears were sharp, his body quick to react.  He jumped up from his bed and responded.  But it wasn’t Eli calling him.

It was God.

I scan the page to find where I left off yesterday.  The chapter I recognize; probably one of the first Bible stories I ever heard.  One of the first I told to my children.  One of the favorites.  Good guy verses bad guy.  Classic.  I’m tempted to gloss over to avoid repetition.  But no.  Soon I’m immersed again in the drama.  David.  Young, sunburned, indomitable, vivacious David.  Goliath.  Brazen, defiant, bullish, impatient Goliath.  Humble and untested stared up at contemptuous and seasoned.  They had no comic books to base their hopes on.  I try not to make a movie of it in my head.  This was real.  Everyone expected David to die.

His big brothers groaned.  If they lived till tomorrow, how would they ever tell their father they had allowed his youngest to battle that foul-mouthed behemoth?  His blood would be on their hands.  Where was God to save them from this reckless, impetuous, poor little brat?

His king sulked.  Tall and muscular, leader, accomplished warrior, he knew he should have accepted the Philistine challenge himself.  But shadows made him jump these days.  The men whispered together when he forbid his own brave son to battle the giant.  There must be some large but foolish brute within his army who could at least put out a decent fight before they met their doom, and he himself could flee to some cave before they were all made slaves or roadkill.  This musician boy was not what he had in mind.  How embarrassing.  Where was God to reject him and allow his kingship to be represented by a measly shepherd kid?

His countrymen trembled.  As if they hadn’t been on edge for a month, hearing the taunts and jeers from the giant echoed across the valley from the entire enemy army.  Men had been deserting daily, slipping away in the night when they could bear no more.  Endless waiting under the scorching sun as the sordid enemy beat down their morale.  This day, they hardly made pretense of secrecy or shame.  Increasing numbers of shadows darted over the hills behind the encampment.  This boy represented their proud military?!?  He had neither armor nor sword.  Where was God to stand by and let this injustice continue?

God was waiting.  Waiting for someone to answer His call.

“Son,” David heard in the recesses of his mind as he stooped to grab a handful of stones.  “You have come.”

I didn’t plan to fight giants today.

I changed diapers, and scrambled eggs, and wiped questionable-smelling mud off of boots.

I read library books, dashed through puddles with a two year old balanced on my 6-month-pregnant belly, ate leftover peanut butter bread.

I sopped up spilled milk, wiped tears, searched for marbles lost.

I chased three week old chickens so my disabled son could hold them.

I ate a nasty cheeseburger.

I buckled.

I unbuckled.

I went to the grocery store on a rainy Memorial Day weekend with four hungry kids right before supper.

I consoled a child who tried to clobber the friendly groundhog with a plastic hockey stick and couldn’t decide if he was more upset that he didn’t kill him for supper or might have hurt him and left him to suffer.

I told another child he couldn’t wear all five of his favorite pairs of underwear to bed.

I made another child eat his broccoli even after he spit the first chewed bite out.

I made another child cry when I removed the bowl of rice he was deliberately spooning into the recesses behind his booster chair.

I killed a spider.

I brought my husband a surprise coffee at work (and a lot of kids who wanted him to buy them stuff.)

I protected children from the scary automatic flush toilets in a public restroom.

I chased a train in the rain (in the van) just to watch it go over the bridge.

I said yes.

I said no.

I said just be quiet I can’t hear myself think.

I said I love you.

I kissed a hurt toe.

I kissed a hurt forehead.

I removed scotch tape from a stuffed animal.

I did dishes.

I vacuumed.

I tucked and re-tucked in.

I blogged.

I survived.

 

And, somehow, though I didn’t expect it, the giants are dead.

 

 

He called.  I answered.  I’m so glad I did.

Chicken Little

Home.  We are home.  Keep your pancake away from your brother’s surgical head incisions.  Maple syrup is not an appropriate dressing!  I said it.  Oh yes I did.

Welcome back to life.

Here, when breakfast falls on the floor (or gets thrown), there are no housekeepers waiting in the halls to heroically swoop in with a mop at the press of a call button.  But at least the breakfast doesn’t taste like cardboard.

Here, we don’t get tested for fatigue or hair loss because it’s clearly the result of indefatigable offspring who cause the hair to be pulled.  But at least we know the cause.

Here, there is no waiting for doctors or tests or procedures.  Here is breathless.  Busy.  But at least we don’t have to wait.

Here is my kitchen.  There is no cafeteria or room service.  In the hospital, I snacked on pre-sliced mangos and peanut butter energy balls.  Here, if I don’t make it, seven people don’t eat.  But at least we eat (or not) together.

Here, if there is fever or crying or pain in the night, there is no nurse to ease it.  But at least I get to hold my own babies when they need me.

Here I administer hugs and hard medicine, discipline and consequence.  But at least I do it while loving them with all my heart.

Here, I buy the diapers.  Here, I answer the questions.  Here, life falls heavy on my shoulders.  Here, I largely feel as if I am running crazy in circles under a falling down sky.  And I want to panic and maybe just a little bit run back to the sterile stern walls of the hospital where life is black and white and not fifty shades of gray and chartreuse and orange crayons and purple bruised knees and pink eye and chocolate milk spots on the walls…

But at least I am home.  All the crazy that is my normal can resume in its colorful glory.  It is good to be here.

Welcome back to life.

ready to leave the hospital
leaving the hospital

On Thursday, Ben’s IV in his neck looked bad when the visiting nurse came to change the dressing over it.  He has a Picc line, a sort of longer-term IV tube that they allowed us to come home with.  This way, he can still get a good dose of antibiotics for a full 21 days without having to sit in a hospital bed for it.  But this port for the anti-infection medicine looked a bit infected.  Ironically.

So, yesterday, we were supposed to get a new one.  This is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.  It’s not brain surgery; it’s just a headache.  But it still collides with little things like homeschooling and breakfast (he can’t eat before the procedure, try explaining that to a three year old) and laundry and paying bills and nursing the baby and maintaining some semblance of a schedule and roasting a chicken for supper and scrubbing chocolate milk off the baseboards.  And Friday I spent hours playing phone tag with doctor’s secretaries to figure out who should look at it – just look at it – because I have never seen a Picc line up close before this.  And why do they all ask me if it looks right because I have never seen one before since thankfully this is my first rodeo and I am a novice in this ring but I am on this wild ride and I’m not planning to let go so help me find the stirrup, cowboy… er, doctor.  And they did.  And they didn’t like its look either.  So they took it out.

But we didn’t get a new Picc line yesterday because we have to make sure an infection didn’t creep into his bloodstream while it was open to the wild world.  Instead they drew a lot of blood and injected him with antibiotics.  So we wait to see.  And we get to wait at home rather than in that sterile world of beeping monitors and the stress that gives you pimples.

It is good to be here.

IMG_2444

We came home from the doctor’s yesterday evening, Ben and I.  He winced slightly as I picked him up out of the car seat, but didn’t complain.  He was preoccupied, peering intently past my shoulder at the sky.  “Where is it?” He craned his neck gingerly.  “Where’s the plane?”

I hadn’t noticed the sound yet, but any self-respecting three year old boy wouldn’t let it pass without mentioning.  Of course, we searched the heavens together.

The sky wasn’t falling.  When I looked up into the cold clear January air, it was still there.  The first star twinkled in the East even as the Sun settled in glorious color behind us.  “The sky’s too big; I can’t see the plane!”  My three year old fussed.

“Yes,” I murmured in agreement.  “The sky is very big.”

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man, that You are mindful of Him, and the son of man, that You visit him?  Psalm 8:3-4

I stood in awe.  I stood in my frustration and the maybe just a little bit freaking out overwhelmingness of my normal.  I stood under the big sky and felt my insignificance.  I stood there, aware that God has great plans and big hands to hold all that is significant.  And I felt small.

And I felt His heart beating with mine.

After all, the God of the heavens watched His Son bleed too.  He, so big and powerful He could make the sun and hold it in the sky, He also held His Son as his life blood poured out. His Son looked up at His Father with trusting, hurting eyes, and asked if there was any other way.  And His Father looked down at Him with all the love that there is, literally, and said no.  There was no other way.

He loved us, little and insignificant of all His glorious creation.  He loved us, dirty and thankless and more like pond scum than like heavenly stars.  He loved us far beyond our own capacity to love Him back.

He is big.  He is glorious.  He is awesome.  But He knows what it’s like to watch your son be hurt.  He knows that in order to bring life, His son had to suffer.  He knows what it’s like to walk through the messy chaos of humanity, step by humble, muddy step.  He knows what it’s like to be dead and buried.  And then be brought back.

Welcome back to life.

Under that big, solid sky, I breathed in slowly, humbled by the immense place of unity I’ve been given.  He walked under these same heavens Himself.  He’s not sending me on an untrodden path.  He’s been here before me.  Big though they are, I’m walking in His shoes.

It is good to be here.

IMG_2931

 

I Am Not An Ostrich

I am surrounded by mothers here.  They may not be the best, or the wisest, or even the nicest.  I do not know them.  Most of them, I never will.  In one room nearby, a young mother held her baby today amidst the tangle of tubes hiding the little body connected to them.  Behind a door marked, “caution: chemotherapy”, I heard a child call out “Mommy!” and the quiet murmur of the parent’s reassuring answer.  Another sat tired in yesterday’s clothes as her son molded play dough beside her in the play room.   We’ve watched our children struggle under sedation.  We’ve held them, allowing painful work to be done.  We’ve turned our heads so our little ones will not see our tears.  Most mothering doesn’t happen in a hospital ward, but here, it is starkly clear.  Motherhood can be tough.

Today I will watch my son go into surgery.  Again.  Compared to many moms surrounding me, I am a lightweight in this area.  But still it isn’t the first time, and it probably won’t be the last.  I know this will hurt him.  I know he won’t understand.  But I know his life depends on this operation.  Without it, fluid would build up in his brain and eventually squeeze the life out of it.  Shunts to divert the fluid were invented about the time I was born.  Before that, hydrocephalus was a death sentence.  So I am very thankful he was born in this generation and this is a relatively routine procedure.  But I still don’t like it.

IMG_2393

I just happened to be reading the book of Job this week.  The ostrich in chapter 39 jumped out at me.  One of a handful of flightless birds who get a lot of press in board books and Sesame Street, ostriches are interesting.  Runners with fluffy soft feathers and hips of power – they are eye catching ladies of Africa.  But God Himself calls their motherhood into question.  He made them fast.  He made them big and bold.  But He did not make them good mothers.  “She leaves her eggs on the ground… She forgets that a foot may crush them…  She treats her young harshly, as though they were not hers… because God deprived her of wisdom.”  (Job 39:13-18).

I am commissioned with a discipleship for the next 18 years, times five at least.  I feel completely inadequate for the job at hand.  Ack.  But yet I was made for this.  I am not an ostrich.  I was given arms to carry infants in the dark hours.  I was given a heart to comfort them when they lean hot with a fever against my chest.  I was given a voice they run to on the playground (and cringe at when it remonstrates them).  I was given feet to chase wayward toddlers and awkwardly kick soccer balls back and forth.  I was given a mind to try to answer the endless question “why?”  When my back aches and my eyelids droop heavy, when my heart hurts and my brain feels numb, even then, I was made for this.

A few days ago, a mother came.  She wasn’t related.  She lives far away.  But she came.  She brought fruit, butter, bread.  She held the baby while I consoled my sick toddler.  She brought hot coffee.  She stayed all day, here in this little hospital room, while my husband had to work.  As she left, she hugged me tight, pressing a little money into my hand for food.

Other mothers have come.  Many more have sent notes, food, little toys, crayons, bananas, chocolate, coffee, pictures drawn by their children… And mothers have prayed.  Oh, they have prayed.  My son should not be doing so well.  Mothers, in the quiet corners of their houses far away, are storming heaven on his behalf.  I feel the vibrations.  It brings me to tears.

Has the rain a father?

Who has begotten the drops of dew?

From whose womb comes the ice?

And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth?

Job 38:28-30

Did God make mothers for the rain?  No.  Did He form parents for the seasons, for the heavens, for the earth?  No.  He made animals bear young, some even feed their offspring, some even teach them life skills.  But their young mature and leave and do not return (Job 39:4).  Only the children of men have mothers.  God breathed life into the squalling helpless little life of a child, handed him to a woman and bestowed on her the calling.  This one has a soul.  This one has the breath of God in him.  Over this one, I make you “mother.”

Waking up from anesthesia in his happy place.  Grandma's arms.
Waking up from anesthesia in his happy place. Grandma’s arms.

And though I am inadequate, wretched and in great need of grace myself, He has made me mother. Oh, the irony.  I feel depleted, weak, and unsure of my steps.  But I keep walking.  I keep hugging.  I keep holding.  I feed and clothe and and cry and pray and breathe in the sweet smell of my babies, not because I am confident of my abilities.  I am not strong.

But He has made me mom.  So He will make me able.  That is enough.

 

Welcome To My Crib

It was time.

Time for the baby to move out of our room into a crib in the boys’ room.

Time for the almost three year old to give his crib to the baby.

Time for the four year old to give up the toddler bed and move into a twin sized bed.

Time for the five boys to squeeze into one room.

It was time for bunk beds.  Round two.

But I wasn’t ready.

As a matter of fact, the baby learned to sleep through the night over a month ago (Haaaaalelujah!)  So it was time.  He needed to get out of our room.  We calculated that for Christmas we would invest in bunk beds. The grim-faced delivery men dropped off several imposing boxes a few days after the holiday.   It was New Year’s Day when Daddy and his helpers got around to the fun of assembly.

helping
helping

It was an all-day project (as projects with so much “help” tend to be).  I was mostly uninvolved, catching up on laundry, cleaning, and rudimentary cooking to keep us alive.  (Found out the dining room smoke alarm was dead when I tried to cook a pizza for lunch, all in a day’s work…)  The two littlest were out of sorts after days with schedules all askew.  But I was impressed when two boys walked by carrying the vacuum in tandem.  They guy-cleaned the rug before setting up the bed frames, and I was not in a position to complain.  They fought for the right to wield the drill (with help), and jockeyed for position with the tape measure.  They glowed with importance when asked to recharge a battery or be chosen to hold screws (your own might be loose if you trust a four year old with that job!)  Their excitement was infectious.  And yet, I managed not to catch it.

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I’ll help you, citizens!

I had dragged my heels when my husband had offered to attempt the project on his day off.  I just wasn’t in a hurry.  True, we needed our bedroom back.  No more holding our breath so as not to wake the baby when we went to bed late or got up early.  No more sleeping on the pull-out in the living room while he learned to self-soothe.  No more waiting for a bigger house to materialize.  It was simply time.  

five months old
five months old

But the thought of my still-just-two year old in a big twin-size bed grated against my cuddly, coddly mother hen-li-ness.  It seemed normal for a baby sleeping in the crib to be incapable of getting himself in or out.  It seemed odd for a child sleeping in a big bed to need the same level of help.  Bunk bed ladders seemed tauntingly impossible for the child who couldn’t even climb a stair alone.

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view from the crib

Late that night, as I checked in on the troop of five in solemn repose in their new beds, the sadness washed over me again.  The baby looked so small in his corner of the new big crib he’d just inherited from the two year old.  The toddler seemed dwarfed by the bunk bed mattress extending for a mile past his little legs.  The two bigger boys in the older bunks were tucked around the corner, hard to reach.  The room seemed ever so much smaller, now completely devoid of floor space and full of night breath.  So full.

The next night, as soon as Daddy got home from work, I topped off the baby and handed over the reigns of bedtime duty.  Grocery shopping is just so much more efficient without five helpers…  I raced through the store in record time and turned back onto our street before the car was even warmed up.  It wasn’t that late; cars were in most of the driveways, the residents still awake within the homes.   Thin blue light of televisions reflected through many windows, others were dimly lit.  I smiled as I pulled up to our humble abode at the end of the street.  Lights blazed from nearly every window, spilling across the white snow banks, rays escaping around curtains.  The overflowing recycling bin on the porch was guarded by two plastic dinosaurs.   My house, so full.  So full of life.  It looked so deliciously inviting, warm, enticing.  Alive.

Our electric bill is probably higher than our neighbors’ (and we don’t even have a t.v.).  Our dishwasher and laundry machines work overtime comparatively.  It comes with the territory.  But our house is the one spilling over with laughter, conversation, stories, the hum of the vacuum, the smell of woodsmoke and always something cooking, always, something moving.  Always life.  

And it’s mine.  I’m so blessed.    

And my children, tucked snugly together in their little room, slept through the cozy night, as oblivious to our lack as I had been to my overflowing blessing.

Maybe it’s time I realized that.

Hearsay

They said my house was too small.

For a moment, I believed them.

They said I had too many children.

For a moment, I believed them.

They said I was too poor.

For a moment, believed them.

They said homemaking is for those incapable of having a career, that it is more important to make a name for myself than a legacy.

For a moment, I believed them.

They said kids will rob me of the best years, my figure, my energy, my health, and that pouring out my life for them would leave me empty.

For a moment,  I believed them.

They told me I’d be too busy for self and sleep and even comfort (as if those were mine by rights in the first place).

For a moment, I believed them.

They told me I would not attain to the American Dream if I followed this path (as if the only alternative was a nightmare).

For a moment,  I believed them.

They said it was foolhardy to risk having another handicapped child.

For a moment, I believed them.

They said let others raise them, teach them, tell them what to eat and how to dress and how to live based on the clock and latest trends.

For a moment, I believed them.

They said go with the flow, take the safe route, the wide and easy path, because the road less traveled is too rough and narrow.

For a moment, I believed them.

Then I looked around my snug little house full of laughter and the infectious joy of life and awe at simplicity.  I looked at the little bodies covered in dirt and love with hearts on their sleeves and trust in their faces.  And in that moment, I found it unbelievable that this is my life.

And I wouldn’t change a moment of it.

Believe it or not.

IMG_2501
My guys

 

The Chicken or the Egg

No, I’m not expecting another child again so soon; I wrote this post last year on my first blog.  But various parts of this tend to come up in conversation.  A lot.  It was true in the days of pregnancy; it’s even more poignant now that baby number 5 is a couple months old.  I thought I’d share it again.

This is where it was posted originally, back in January.  http://teenagemutantninjatoddlers.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-chicken-or-egg.html

The Chicken or the Egg

Yes.  I am pregnant.

It happens.

Regularly, it seems.

(Though actually I had nearly five months when I was neither pregnant nor nursing this time.  Previous record was about two months, and I had an early miscarriage in the middle of that.  But that’s another story…)

So we are excited.  I know I am very blessed.  I am also sick, hormonal, and exhausted.

And in the midst of all the congratulations, I sometimes get the (not unexpected, yet often subliminal) question, “Why?!?”

 

The fifth child elicits that type of reaction naturally in our modern American culture.  More so if they’re all six years old or less.  More so if mom is only 5 feet tall and tries to avoid wearing obvious “mom jeans.”  More so if folks know you only have a two bedroom house.  Much more so if you have a toddler in a wheelchair.

I’m fairly used to the reaction by now.  Sometimes I smile, a bit, and feel like I’m the bearer of a great secret.  Those folks who look at me with consternation, amazement, or pity, they simply must not know the worth I find in these treasures.

 

For the record, I am aware, childbearing and raising, especially in quantities, is hard.  It is expensive.  It is tiring, frustrating, thankless, often demeaning; sometimes it seems flat out impossible.  And that’s just before daylight hits.  The gentleman in the grocery store commenting “You sure are busy!” isn’t telling me something I didn’t know.  I’d like to answer, sometimes, “Oh, wow, I didn’t realize!  I am busy, aren’t I!  Thanks for pointing that out!”

 

But the question is understandable.

“Why?”

 

But part of the answer is simple chemistry.  My husband and I seem to just think baby, and they appear on an ultrasound.  We seem to be ridiculously fertile.  We are young and healthy.  We could try to shirk this, but we’re choosing to treat it as a blessing, the miracle of life.  Because the Bible says it is.  And there are plenty for whom childbearing isn’t such an easy option.  I must consider it the good hand of God, as Mary did, when the angel told her she was having baby Jesus.  She was young, unmarried, poor, and alone.  It would cost her reputation, it would cause her husband a great deal of difficulty (and patience before his marriage was consummated), require a frantic flight at midnight to another country, and ultimately break her heart as she watched her Child be murdered.  But at the news – she praised God.

Along with that, the method we use for birth control is – leaving God in control of birth.  No hormones.  No surgery.  And, dare I say it, no random chance.  At the risk of too much info, the plus side of having a “cycle,” is just that.  A cycle.  Fairly predictable.  As Ecclesiastes notes, “there is a time for everything…”  Much of the month, it is quite unlikely you will make a baby.  You can get fairly familiar with the times you could.  And if you hit that particular time, what’s the worst thing that will happen?  Oops.  The miracle of life.

 

Part of the answer is probably my pride.  When baby number four was born with Spina Bifida, it became obvious that, while he would have some difficulty with his lower body for the rest of his life, and probably surgery from time to time, he wasn’t going to require ’round the clock care particularly more than any child.  I didn’t want the simple fact that he can’t currently hike a mountain be the deciding factor to end our kid-having.  And I don’t want him to think that his disability somehow disables us from giving him a younger sibling.  He’s a regular kid; he just happens to not feel his feet or bladder.  Plus we’d probably spoil him if he remained the youngest.  He already gets away with crashing into people’s shins with his wheelchair more than he should…

 

The fastest way to get spaghetti to your tummy should mean bypassing the mouth and esophagus completely.  The logic of a two year old.

Also, well, we have four boys.  You can’t say yet that we’re not giving a girl a chance 🙂  But having a complete soccer team in the same genre would certainly be more convenient, cheaper with hand-me-downs, and I’m all for it – either way.

 

Finally, honestly, why will we have another baby?  Because I was once that person in the grocery store who looked at the tired mom with her snotty brood in mismatched puddle boots and thought, “Why?”

Two or maybe three children, spaced comfortably years apart, sounded like a practical, workable way to ensure progeny.

But.

But God had other plans than mine.  (He often does, I’ve found.)

 

The first baby sunk me.  I didn’t get what it would be like to go from working a full-time job, trying to finish my degree, and being a young, upwardly mobile couple, to being a stay-at-home mom budgeting on my husband’s income.  I was lonely.  The baby cried at odd hours, for no reasonable purpose that I could see.  As he didn’t come with a manual, I read all the books I could get my hands on, and they often offered conflicting advice.  Feed on demand; feed on strict schedule.  Wear your baby always; always put them down in their own crib.  Feed them cereal around 4 months; start them instead on finger foods when they’re closer to a year.  Before kids, I might have thought parenting was just another notch on the growing up belt.  I started to realize it wasn’t that easy.

Then baby number two surprised me with his unplanned (by me) existence.

If you asked me the age old question – which came first, the chicken or the egg?  I’d probably say the eggs.  When I saw each teeny little heart beating on grainy black and white screens, I cried.  Yes, I loved them and knew I was honored to be made a mommy.  But I turned into such a chicken at the thought of having a little one.  Then two little ones within a year and a half.  And then three within the next year and a half.

By the third baby, mamma chicken was starting to catch on.

 

These parenting shoes are big ones, Momma.  Won’t you put them on?

 

God’s plans are better.

He used us not just to make new life exist, but He used all that new life to renew my own.

But I had more to learn.

Baby number four arrived with the aid of the doctor’s scalpel.  He met the knife personally twice in his first two weeks of life, with his spine and his brain.

Chicken mommy was learning.

I am learning still that God loves to use these burpy, sticky creatures to refine mother herself.

 

I planned to go into nursing, acting as an angel of mercy for others during their brief stay in a hospital.

Instead, I am into nursing babies, acting as their very life sustenance during their year long stint as an infant.

I planned to space my children, so each would have at least a couple years of mom’s specific attention.

Instead, they came at year and a half intervals, so each had a close sibling to give them special companionship.

I planned to sleep, expecting to need the energy to pour into each day with zeal and excitement.

Instead, I spent many of the wee hours with a warm cuddly dependent life, learning to pour great zeal into prayer for energy to do what was truly essential to life and godliness each day.

I planned to invest and save healthy amounts for each child’s further education and interests.

Instead, in the moments when we didn’t know where the weekly grocery money would come from, I learned to invest in their daily life through the library, good friend groups, healthy food, prayer, discipline and cuddles, and trust that God would supply their needs even as He always had my own.

I planned to be sufficient for the job of parenting.

Instead, I was – I am – constantly humbled to realize what a weighty and precious work this is, raising each fragile life to know he is made in the image of his Creator.  I realize how insufficient I am.  But God loves to use the most unlikely of creatures to prove His own sufficiency.

He used a donkey once to speak to a man and save his life.

I guess He can use a chicken too.

 

A chicken with all day morning sickness.  May my soul magnify the Lord.  Bring it.

 

A Little Bit of Leaven

Once upon a time, a Jewish momma baked some bread.

She ground the barley.  She added some leavening starter, a little salt, a handful of lentils, and some water in the evening.  Early the next morning, it had risen in the bowl.  She took out the dough, shaped it into a handful of loaves, and asked her daughter to set them near the hot coals to bake.  An hour later, her husband and oldest son came in with their haul from an overnight fishing trip.  Most of their modest catch would go to market, but a few of the smaller ones were gutted, salted, and hung to dry for the family’s own use later.  The men wiped their fishy hands and tore hungrily into a hunk of fresh bread.  “A bit dry this time,” the husband commented mildly, receiving a swat from momma’s dishrag in response.  His son grinned at his father as they finished chewing, and then washed it down with a batch of thin yogurt courtesy of the goats momma and the girls milked twice a day.  Sustained, they rose from their meal to work on mending some nets before catching a nap in preparation for the next night of fishing.  Momma handed the one year old a crust to practice his toothless gums on, then she bustled about, cleaning crumbs, throwing blankets out over the clothesline to air, and prepping her market list for tomorrow’s shopping trip.  The remaining bread was pushed into a basket unceremoniously.

Momma didn’t know that bread would be famous by the next day.

cupcakes
blessings in frosting

In the aftermath of childbirth, I came home tired and a bit sore.  My other children greeted me joyfully before dumping a pile of books on my lap to be read, tipping a jug of milk all over the floor, and showing me a dried footprint from where they’d been climbing on the walls while I was gone.  And asking for food.  Ah, home sweet home.  Grandma and Daddy tag-teamed the first week or two to keep everyone alive and in mostly clean clothes.  We went through more cereal than we had for months previous.  Transitions can be good, but they’re still rough.  Especially around dinner time, I was most tired, the kids were most wired, the baby most awake, and the house messiest.

So it blessed my momma heart when a handful of other mommas (and their husbands) around me offered to make dinners for over a week after Finlay joined the family.  They knew; every single one of them had been through childbirth at least twice (most had 3, 4, or even 5 kids!)  They were busy too with their own marriages and children (though I’m sure they’re all less cranky than mine), they had their own food budgets, their own daily worlds to keep spinning.  But they went out of their way to do a very practical thing to help keep my little world from tipping too far off its axis.

In some ways, it’s just a little thing.  A meal.  A meatloaf.  Some noodles.  Warm stew.  A plate of cookies.  Salad.  They make food for their own families, a daily labor of love and butter that generally goes unnoticed and unthanked.  It’s one of the most basic and assumed facets of the motherhood career, the daily physical sustenance of their household.

Well, that day long ago when that momma was going about her daily ablutions and baking that bread, Jesus was not far way.  He was busy too, spending the day teaching hungry people about the Bread of Life.  He was offering living water to dehydrated souls.  He renewed broken bodies, refreshed tired minds, fed hope to the weary.  But He wasn’t baking bread for them.

He left that to the professional.

Those calloused, veined, unsuspecting momma hands dumped five loaves and a couple dried fish in a pouch as her son ran out the door to go see Jesus.  She watched at the door as the pouch bumped against his legs, flattening the loaves and breaking fragments of the crispy fish.  Then she returned to her daily work, unaware what great things God had used her humble hands for that day.  Her hands changed diapers, hugged a friend when she stopped by, swatted the toddler’s backside when he didn’t mind her, scrubbed the sweaty, fish-scaled cloak her husband wore in the boat on rainy nights, smoothed a young daughter’s flyaway hair.  But several hours later, as Jesus stood on the hillside with the contents of her son’s food pouch held in His own, it was that momma’s hands that He asked His Father to bless for preparing their feast.

It was her bread that Jesus handed to His disciples.  It was her bread that fed over five thousand men.  It was her bread that many other hungry mommas and children ate as they sat on that hillside with Jesus.  It was the excess of her bread that overflowed a dozen baskets after everyone was full – of her bread.

She sat down in surprise when her son told her about his day with Jesus.  She breathed in sharply, thinking of the thousands who ate the humble meal she’d thrown together for her family.  Now she really wondered if the batch had been too dry!  This simple fare, the recipe she’d perfected over years of daily practice and necessity, had just been used to sustain so many of both her neighbors and complete strangers.

She had simply been about her daily business, her act of love for her family that they all took for granted.

And in so doing, she’d fed the Son of God.

She’d given a feast to satisfy both beggars and rich men.

She’d relaxed other mommas worried about their own families’ hunger.

Her simple chore had an impact of Biblical proportions.  All four gospel writers mentioned it; thousands of preachers have since expounded on it, billions of folks down through history have heard the story of that simple meal.

Maybe, Momma, you didn’t consider your weeknight chicken and potatoes could be epic.  You didn’t know your humble pie was at the level of gospel truth.  You wouldn’t have believed your basic quiche could impact generations.  You couldn’t see how that pinch of yeast would rise bread high enough to touch heaven.  You didn’t know that the glass of water you poured for the least of these was accepted by Jesus Himself.  You simply did what you do every day, loving your family tangibly through cheese and broccoli, making enough extra to share.  But God can make your meatloaf into someone’s miracle.

A plate of tacos can go a long way in God’s kingdom.

Thanks mommas.  Jesus said you could be the salt of the earth.  Literally.  Keep cooking.  May your noodles be blessed.

The Quiet Messenger in Aisle Four

(Disclaimer: I started this post the day before I had a baby, so all references to my pregnancy are purely intentional, but about 10 days late.  I’ve been busy…)

The grocery store cart looked like a spaceship.  It had seats for two drivers, and jet packs painted on the back plastic.

On land and laminate tile, however, spaceships are ungainly.  It is hard to brake quickly when the jets are powered by a five year old behind and a seven year old in front.  We’ve scraped past many an end cap as we tried to clear the corners of aisles without taking up the whole intergalactic space.

I’ve utilized these spaceships on a regular basis.  Joe, the grandfatherly man in a baseball cap, calls a cheerful hello from behind the deli counter as we scrape obtrusively past.  The lady in the bakery smiles appreciatively as the boys ooh and ahh over the decorated cakes on display.  But other customers are often less ecstatic about sharing the orbit around the produce section.  An older gentleman in spotless white shoes purses his lips and stares as one child pushes up on the hanging scale while another gingerly weighs the sack of grapes.  They squabble; a lone grape escapes the gravitational pull of the rest of the bunch and rolls into outer darkness below the produce display.

The five year old smacks at an overgrown watermelon and hollers loudly, “Is the baby in your tummy as big as this?”  Another customer glances over with a raised eyebrow, sizing me up along with the unlicensed spaceship drivers.  The look speaks loudly.  I’m distracted for a moment, (am I as big around as that watermelon?!?) and the cart crashes into the canning jar display.  Glass rattles.  I hiss at the little spaceship crasher, “No pushing!”  He looks crestfallen.  “I beeped when it backed up” he mumbles, justifying himself under DOT safety rules for large vehicles.  As if those should apply in space.

I grab a piece of ginger and stuff it in a plastic bag.  “Don’t tie it!”  The seven year old cries out in distress.  I look up askance.  He reveals a fistful of twist ties.  “I’ll tie it closed!”  I hold the bag while he tries for a solid minute or maybe a long day on a different planet to twist the wire around the flimsy plastic.  The five year old is smacking produce again; an eggplant tumbles to the floor.  The two drivers are impatient in neutral; the four year old gets on his knees in the cart to rock the ship loose from its holding pattern, the two year old grabs his wheel to rock the older brother’s sense of possession.  He succeeds.  I hiss another round of orders (“Stop rocking!  Sit!  Be quiet!  Pick up the eggplant!  Don’t pick your nose!).  I bend to grab the eggplant.  A contraction squeezes my midsection.  It feels like I am on the rocket myself, leaving my stomach several hundred feet behind.  Finally it catches up.  I breathe in deep, knowing from experience this will probably be the norm for the next two weeks until my due date.

The oldest two, blissfully naive to the reasons for my dawdling, are ahead of us now, staring at the lobster tank.  “That one looks like Henry!”  One teases.  Henry swings at him with a venomous four year old fist as our spaceship glides past.  “Boys!”  I holler across the aisle.  They look over, but not at me.  “Oooh, ice!”  exclaims the five year old when he notices the cold display holding packages of shrimp.  He stuffs a piece of ice in his mouth and the others follow suit.  They thoughtfully hand a chunk to the two year old on the far side of the cart.  My back is turned until I hear another customer address my cart full.  “That’s dirty, kids.  Don’t eat that!”  I turn to see her glance reprovingly at me.  “More!”  whines Ben, the two year old.  “More!”

Of course no one else I know has ever questioned their own sanity in such a moment.  What I’m doing is purposeful, powerful – this bearing and raising of children, spastic little olive plants around my sticky table, this training them in the real world everyday to be bold-hearted warriors for grace and grass-fed beef, this twenty-four hour parenting, homeschool-and-home-ec, never missing their naptime or a teachable moment type of heroine-ism I seek to aspire to – but it doesn’t feel powerful at the moment.

It’s too messy to be heroic.  Too earthly to be graceful.  Too disheveled to be purposeful.

I’m tired, I’m sore, I forgot my list, my kids aren’t angels, all these strangers think I’m either a teenage mom because  I left my heels and makeup at home (like I do everyday), or a poor hapless woman who’s never heard of birth control and is obviously the reason they have to pay taxes for welfare.  And now my kids are gonna be sick from bad ice and I will probably spend too much money and feel like a bad wife on top of being a bad mom and maybe I should just buy a package of wonderbread and a big bottle of soda and let the kids drown my misery in high fructose corn syrup comas for the afternoon. “It’s just too hard and I don’t get how to do this!”  I whine to the Maker of the Universe.

There was this one time in the Bible, when Elijah, the infamous and hairy prophet, had a similar whiny moment.  Elijah had been the pivotal character in a recent showdown of Biblical proportions.  At his word, God had sent fire before an audience of the king and every citizen of Israel.  At his word and perhaps even his own hand, all the fake and evil prophets had been killed.  At his word, rain had finally come to the land after three long years of drought.  He’d felt like a hero.  Finally, the year of the prophet was coming to Israel.  No more eating crow leftovers.  No more hiding in fear of his life.  No more obscurity.  About time.

Except it didn’t work out that way.

He’d thought people would throw him a parade for saving them from the evil prophets’ control.  He’d thought they’d give him a medal for ending the drought.  But all the notice he got was a middle aged woman turning up her nose at his body odor when he got too close to her bagel stand.  That and a text message from the godless queen of Israel warning him she planned to kill him for his heroic antics.  Elijah was fed up.  Obviously no one would even notice if he just left.  He headed out to the desert.  Way out.

“You guys want cookies?” I call to my minions.  They swarm around the free cookie box at the store, vying to find the one with the fewest crumbs and no broken edges.  They hand one to the two year old, who takes a bite and tries to grab the four year old’s cookie instead.  “Can I have his cookie since he doesn’t want it?”  The five year old asks, simultaneously swiping the two year old’s cookie from his chubby fingers and causing an immediate and loud reaction.  I shush and wipe crumbs off drooling lips.  The spaceship glides like a graceful dinosaur over my toes.  “Ugh,” I groan in pain.  “This motherhood-hero thing isn’t working for me today.”

Standing on the steep side of the mountain, Elijah felt the ground shake.  He saw chunks of the mountain crumble.  He saw the sky ripped by lightning.  He covered his ears at the booming thunder.  Trees, dust, and rocks around him were whipped into a terrifying whirlwind.  Not a pebble would touch the prophet while God still had plans for his life.  But Elijah shrank in terror into a cave in the rocks, not daring to feel the strength of his Keeper swirling around him.

But the terrifying storm must have dropped the air pressure and cleared his ears.  He blinked in the brightness as the clouds parted and the rain-drenched rocks sparkled.  Suddenly, Elijah could hear the great silence after the roaring wind passed.  In the stillness, there was a gentle whisper, almost musical.  It wasn’t what he expected after the storm.  It was a hopeful, clean feeling.  Elijah felt his insignificance.  But now it was a good smallness.  His God had plans.  It was enough.

spaceship cart

I rev the engines of my laden spaceship and careen into the canned goods aisle.  A sprightly woman looks up with a raised eyebrow as I barrel around the corner, but she doesn’t frown.  She stops stocking shelves and turns.  Her gaze softens as she takes in my spacey crew and round tummy.  A slight smile tugs the corner of her mouth and deepens the laugh lines around her eyes.  “Oh, Momma, you are blessed.”  She murmurs with a familiar pat on my shoulder.  “I had eight total, five boys.”  She sighs with satisfaction.  “We had a wedding over the weekend; all of them standing up there, so tall in their suits…”  She looks down at my children.  “It’s worth it, Momma.  You are doing a great thing.  Keep on.”

I smile, thank her, and jet off down the aisle after a little awol astronaut.  We continue our trek into the outer regions of the store, but I feel much lighter as we drive.  Almost weightless.

Maybe it hasn’t turned out to be the “year of the mommy” and I will mother on in obscurity and sleeplessness.

But the heaviness of the world’s care is off my shoulders.

Even with some other queen breathing disapproval down my back, even without government approval or support, even without public understanding, even without knowing I was doing this whole mother thing right, even with the difficult, thankless days, I will continue.

The strength of God’s power will swirl around me and sometimes I know I will feel buffeted by the winds, but the quietness of His purpose will always come.  He is not finished yet.

“You are doing a great thing, Momma.  Keep on.”

Letter to My Unborn Son

Dear Child,

I haven’t met you.  I don’t know you (though your roundhouse kicks to my ribs hint at strength and stubbornness ahead).  But I love you already and can’t wait to meet you next month.

I want the best for you.  Unfortunately, I am completely inadequate to be your mother.  Even if I pour my life into parenting you, I will fall short.  Already I do.  (Sorry about those doughnuts.  They gave us both a sugar crash later.)  Just ask your brothers in a few years, when they’re teenagers and you learn how to talk, they’ll tell you.  I will fail you.

I will get mad when isn’t your fault.

I will be too busy when you really just need me to listen.

I will be too lenient when you’re testing rules that should be safe and solid.

I will be too harsh when discipline isn’t the best teacher.

I will say no when I should say yes.

I will be a bad mom sometimes.  I’m sorry in advance.  Is this how Mary felt as she considered being Jesus’ mommy?  We’ve been entrusted with the impossible job of parenting perfectly.  No pressure.  It’s harder than you might think.

For the record, sometimes you will think I’m being a bad mom when I’m actually trying to do what’s good for you.

I will say no when I shouldn’t say yes.  (More on that when you’re 2).

I will discipline you when you do wrong, belligerently disobey, or try to hurt someone.

I will set rules that must not be broken to protect your own safety and health.

I will teach you manners.

I will not give you candy before supper.

I will expect you to practice helping anyone who is smaller or weaker than you, and all girls, no matter how tough they are.

I will observe bedtime.

I will give you good food when you ask for junk, kick you outside to play when you want to watch too much t.v., and won’t move the car until you’re buckled.

Because even Mary had to set boundaries for Jesus when He was little.  Even Jesus couldn’t play in traffic.  Even Jesus had to take turns.  Even Jesus had to learn to read when he would rather have been in the sandbox.

So much to learn!  The joy of daddy's tool box.
So much to learn! The joy of daddy’s tool box.

Jesus didn’t come to earth because it was going to be easy.  He didn’t pick Mary for His mom because she was perfect, or beautiful, or rich.  He didn’t come to be comfortable.  Jesus didn’t come to earth to be happy.

He came to a hard world, a young, imperfect mother, and a very difficult, painful purpose.  It pleased God – His dad – to put Him here.  His Dad loved Him more than I even love you (because He could).  So because I love you, I must expect the same for you.  I want more for you than just happiness.

It’s a little late for you to back out of this.  In fact, I’m expecting you to jump in head first.  Literally.  But don’t worry, even Jesus laughed sometimes.  In fact, I’m pretty sure He had an infectious giggle.  Even when He grew up, kids loved being around Him, so He must have been a pretty fun guy.

He had lots of brothers, just like you.

He enjoyed food, just like you will. (He spent lots of time eating with friends).

He had lots of energy, just like you. (He worked hard and walked everywhere).

He had an awe of nature, knowing that His Dad had made it to be enjoyed and used by Him as well as you.

He had the power to fill and to break His mom’s heart, just like you.

And He knew His mom loved him.  Just like you.

There are mountains to climb out here.  There are books to read.  There is chocolate; there is steak.  There are pretty girls (we’ll discuss them later…)  There is hard work, sweat, and pain.  But there is laughter, deep joy, and times of rest.  There are big trucks.  There is darkness.  There is hope.  There are hugs and cuddles.  There is lonliness.  There are puppies.  There is dirt.  There is ice cream.  There is so much to discover.

I cannot promise you happiness.  But I will try to teach you joy.

I cannot promise you painlessness.   But I will be there to kiss your booboos and stick on band aids.

I cannot promise you comfort.  But I will try to buffer the hurts when I know they are coming.

I cannot promise you immediate gratification.  But I will try to help you accept the waiting.

I cannot promise you sunshine and warmth.  But I will dance with you in the rain.

I cannot promise you won’t get dirty.  But I will give you bubble baths.

I cannot promise you won’t get sick.  But I will soothe your pain.

I cannot promise you won’t be afraid.  But I will chase monsters with you in the dark and hold your hand when you feel small.

I cannot promise you won’t fail.  You will make mistakes; you will try your hardest and still lose.  Sometimes.  But I will help you get up and try again.  And again.  And again.

I cannot promise I won’t fail you.  In fact, I guarantee I will.  But I will teach you about Jesus’ Dad – the One who put you here in the first place – and I guarantee He will never fail you.  I can’t wait to introduce you to Him.

I’m looking forward to joining you on the grand adventure, baby.  See you soon!

Love, Mom

They're waiting for you...
They’re waiting for you…

P.S.  That first step of life is a doozy.  For both of us.  You can start practicing now being a good sleeper for mama, ok?  Thanks.