The Warning Signs of Motherhood

They warned me. I have no one to blame but myself for this.

They may not have been able to warn me about the time my 3-year-old pitched a fit so enormous it woke the entire childcare center at nap time. As if suddenly possessed with a burning passion for furry monsters, she screamed and kicked all the way down the endless hallway over my old Elmo doll.  It was mine from my high school days and she never paid any attention to it. Until I started a new teaching job and tried to leave it for other children to play with. They don’t warn you when you’re snuggled in a hospital bed with your sweet cooing baby how they will one day be the cause of your life’s most embarrassing moments.

And they never mentioned the amount of patience it would take to help my 1st grader with her homework as she struggled with undiagnosed ADD.  The agony and frustration we both felt while my six-year-old would spend hours at our kitchen table just trying to do one ‘simple’ worksheet. She’d have to turn the neighbor kids away when they came to the door to play because she was still doing her homework. How could someone so smart struggle so much with school work? No one warns you of the feelings of inadequacy and concern when you can’t teach your own child but you can command a room full of three-year olds. “She’s so smart,” they’d say. “She’s got a bright future!” They don’t tell you about the times when the house falls silent and all those doubts begin to creep into your mind. Any confident strides you may have made that very afternoon with time managing the homework demons sink deep with sorrowful sighs into your pillow.

But this? Seems even strangers warned me about this:

“They grow up so fast.”

But when you’re in the trenches it’s hard to see the horizon.

“Don’t blink. Before you know it they’ll be grown and gone.”

It’s hard to hear that over your kicking, screaming, Elmo-obsessed three-year-old.

“Cherish the time you have with them now. Soon they won’t want anything to do with you.”

Somehow cherishing doesn’t seem to fit in the same realm as crying over 1st grade math.

And yet here I am wishing I had listened to them.

Both of my girls have milestones this Spring.  I am not sure how I missed this when I signed up to be their mom. Abby Faith finishes middle school, and Lucy will be spreading her wings and flying from the safety of her elementary school nest. This year they stacked the deck against me. I should have seen it coming.

They warned me after all.

I find myself weeping over the most common of scenarios. Like when my tiny baby girl forgets her English book after school. And this time she doesn’t need me to go with her back into the school to get it. I literally sobbed in the car while I waited for her to return. She looked so grown up! But I wiped my tears and gathered my composure before she returned. She wouldn’t understand. And if I warned her now about how this whole Mothering gig goes down, she wouldn’t listen. Just like her mom.

Or when my sweetest baby-faced child suddenly wants to trade in her Disney princess dress-up dress and go shopping for a dress to wear to her school semi-formal dance I lock myself in the bathroom for several minutes and just pray for time to stand still. Tomorrow she’ll ask to go shopping for a wedding dress. That will be an entire tear-stained blog post in itself!

Some days I feel like I just won’t make it. Some days I just feel like it’s not fair at all the way this life works. You pour every ounce of love from the very essence of yourself into someone just to give them away. And you pray that whomever you give them to will love them as much as you do or more.  I want to believe that’s true. There’s got to be some hope in that. But, I really don’t think there’s any love deeper, stronger or more poignant than that of a mother for her child. We loved them first after all. Before a name, a face and a birthday. We loved them first.

So excuse me if I get emotional over high school registration forms and 5th grade ceremonies. Because the time I have with them to do their hair and talk about boys will one day come to an end.

But my love for them goes on forever.

 

 

 

 

 

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Seasons: Trusting The Process

“Is it just me or does Summer seem like it’s taking forever to get here?”  I said this aloud to myself as if I actually expected an answer.

I love Summer! I love the long days. The heat. And the sound of children laughing as they play outside. I love bare feet. Swimming. I love popscicles and sticky fingers. Ice cold glasses of lemonade. Ahhh.

I love eating outside every night and the fragrance of the grill. And lazy afternoons reading on the porch. I love the magic of lightening bugs and the cadence of cicadas screaming through the trees. I even love how down here in the South the air is so heavy sometimes it feels like a cloak. I know I am in the minority with that one.

Living in Alabama most of my life I’ve been spoiled. My favorite season always seems to last the longest of them all, usually showing up the end of March and fighting to hold on till the very end of September. The heat is always the first to show up and always the last to go. But this year, it seems as though it’s been cooler longer than normal. I’m still hanging on to my sweatshirt.

So when I asked myself that question I didn’t really expect an answer. But, I should know that I am never alone and Jesus can whisper at anytime.

“Why do you always do that? Wish your seasons away? Why don’t you ever stop and enjoy the season you are in right now?”

Ok, so those were more questions than they were an answer.

I didn’t have an answer for Him at all. I just shrugged and pulled my blanket up higher around my shoulders.

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I don’t know why I always seem to rush away the spaces I’m in. I have yet to figure out why I am always in such a hurry for my girls to grow up so they can move out of the house, or so I don’t have to keep shuttling them from all their activities or friends houses. And yet, the sight of their beauty as they emerge into women makes me weep. I’m clinging to the last days of elementary school with white knuckles while wishing my eleven -year-old would just grow up and be responsible already!

I’m a paradox.

So I sat there with my blankie around my shoulders and thought of the seasons in my life. So many of them I wouldn’t want to come back around, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world.

There was the season of job loss and a brand new baby. Young-married and broke. I was far from my family and desperately lonely. But it was in that season that I turned back to Jesus and leaned on Him for the first time in years.

There was the season of a lost relationship that I cried over and suffered the heartbreak of realizing that someone I loved with all my heart would never be a part of my life. But in my weakness I found His strength to move on and find lasting godly relationships that push me and don’t hold me back.

There was the season of financial struggle from personal injury. It was so hard to be patient and wait for healing and redemption. But I found it in that season. I also found joy in how creative He is with his provision for my family.

Each one of the seasons in my life I didn’t like always turned over into something better. Something I could never have imagine for myself or my family. It was during each one of those seasons that He was refining me and all for His glory and for my benefit.

Winter must happen in order for me to appreciate Summer.

Right now I feel like I am in a season of growth through obedience. There are things I want in my life that God doesn’t seem to think is right for me. I am trying to learn to let go of those things to make room for what God has in store for me. I feel out of my comfort zone a lot these days. And I’m learning that it’s not about what I want at all. It’s all about living out His purpose for my life. And even at nearly 40 I am still unsure what that is.

I can’t see the end of the season I am in right now. And I find myself wishing it away like I do a chilly evening. I have to trust through obedience that He’s got something even better for me as this season changes. I have to trust that the stuff I think is a pain to deal with is just preparing my path to a sweet Summer day filled with laughter and joy.

Because it is.

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The Things Jesus Doesn’t Know About Me

RepentenceLately I’ve been wrestling with a question that I felt was pretty stupid. I often don’t ask questions like that except to my husband who is always so gracious with my naive spirit.  But even this one I kept close to my wandering heart. I just felt awkward even having the thought. Finally, one night this week I had to try to quiet the rattling in my brain,

“If Jesus was perfect and never sinned, how can he relate to me, a sinner, struggling with repentance?”

In other words, how is it possible that he understands why I do the things I do when I don’t want to do them? (Romans 7:15) How does He have any clue what it’s like to be entangled in sin and not want to be there?

How can He understand my gossip? My lies? My deceit? Insecurities? Doubt? How does He know what it’s like to wrestle thoughts I shouldn’t have or desires that don’t line up with His? I know I shouldn’t. I don’t want to do any of those things. My true desire is to become as Christ-like as I can. But I am human. And so was He. But He is also God.

I can’t compete with that!

Yes, Jesus was tempted with the same things that tempts me and you. Yes, He has felt the sting of betrayal and loss. He took on my sins to save me. But how can He understand remorse? How can He understand true sorrow over things done and left undone?

How can my savior fully understand repentance when He never had to go through it Himself? Wasn’t that the point of Him being sent here to Earth? So that He could understand my every heartbreak?

The conversation with my husband didn’t help me at all. (Sorry, babe!) He didn’t have an answer to soothe my worn out soul. In fact I became a little angry with the idea and started to feel alone in picking up my cross daily. I didn’t want to do it anymore. Pride began to creep in and I started entertaining thoughts of how much easier it seemed to do things my way.

That’s a dangerous place to be. And when you find yourself in a battle like that the best and only solution is to drop everything and sit quietly at the feet of Jesus. Oh, how I can’t wait to be able to do that for all eternity!

Because He does know exactly what I’m feeling. He’s God after all! Omniscient God! He knows every last emotion and thought. He knows my struggles and my pain. He catches every single tear and patches up the rips in my heart. The heart He made and gave to me. The heart He dwells within and calls His own.

It’s when I’m remorseful and sorrowful for the things I’ve done that He ushers up beside me, sits quietly, and lets me weep. He lets me pour out my heart without hesitations and He doesn’t ask questions. He doesn’t need to. He knows.

And when I am too weak to pick up my cross, He carries it for me.

 

 

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