Lately it seems I'm back on the road of learning (again, and again, and again) the need to go easy on myself and rest in God's good timing;
the fact that he holds the bigger picture;
that he knows where I'm at;
that he's okay with that.
Friday, 20 September 2013
She is tea cups and lace.
She is plain paper plates.
She is softly spoken words.
She can yell to the herds.
She is quiet and serene.
She’s not afraid of a scene.
Pink apricot sunsets will lift her emotion.
Under the moonlight, she’s as deep as the ocean.
She daintily dances to a classical tune.
She let’s rock ‘n’ roll move her all over the room.
She likes meals presented with an arty touch.
Or if it sustains her, then that is enough.
She sews and makes the most fabulous craft.
She revels in hiking and rowing a raft.
She is unique; she is playing her part –
Doing what God has placed in her heart.
Now, your turn…
Dear New Mother Me,
I've traveled the road you’re on right now. The one you’re just beginning. It’s a crazy journey with some high highs and low lows - mixed with cherished moments in between. Oh you may not recognise them all for what they are at first, but eventually you will be able to look back and smile.
The beginning had its terrifying moments. Going through that little process called labour. The pain, the tears, the discovering how much you really can bear. And then the exhilaration, the relief, the first snuggle – so precious.
Exhaustion sets in and the body longs for rest but you can’t have it. Not yet anyway. Holding this crying bundle, not knowing how to make it calm. Desperate, desperate for some peace and quiet to be able to rest. If only the nurses would understand that and stop trying to make baby feed – again!! Somewhere in the blur you find yourself wondering how long it will take for things to return to normal. What if this is the new normal? Heaven forbid! Then at last a nurse has a heart and takes baby for a couple of hours. Sleep, precious sleep.
The third day blues arrive. Oh the third day blues – hormonal rivers pouring down your cheeks for no apparent reason. It’s the day they’ll send you home too. Home to a comfy bed and a proper meal that’s actually appetising. Home to do it all on your own. You’ll be engulfed in overwhelm.
Bed time arrives and baby’s little bed is set up at the side of your own. But after an hours inconsolable crying (his and yours!) you’ll bundle him up and move the bassinet to his room just a few feet up the hall.
You wake the next day in a pool of milk. Eventually your creative self will find a solution. (Hint: it involves a singlet and a cloth nappy). It’s your first day at home and you’re not convinced you want to spend it on your own while hubby goes to work. You’ll gather your belongings and what you think you’ll need for baby and head off to visit your parents. They’ll know what they’re doing and can offer some sound advice. You nearly cry with relief at hearing mother’s advice on feeding. A great weight is lifted from your shoulders.
How to explain though to the excited Aunt that no, she can’t pick baby up from his carrier. Despite her pleas you remain firm as you experience the first glimmer of connecting as you adore his perfect little face calm and quiet and asleep. This is not something you have words for right now. You've looked forward to meeting the little chap yet find yourself battling the emotions swirling about within. He’s your child and for that you love him dearly. Right now, that is more of a decision than a mushy feeling.
You’ll long to bond with him. And feel somehow broken for not being able to. Be patient with yourself. You've been through a lot this past nine months. An unexpected pregnancy so soon after marriage. You had antenatal depression, though you won’t find this out for several years. The guilt for the feelings toward the unborn child within you - that lasts until almost his sixth birthday. The knowing that it wasn't right to feel this way but too ashamed to tell anyone. This too shall pass my dear and you will have a precious moment at Jesus feet when he lifts this heavy burden from your shoulders. Don’t give up hoping and praying and looking to Him for your answers.
Perhaps the picture painted so far seems a rather dismal one. Although you will find things overwhelming at first, things do eventually settle into a routine. Believe it or not baby will learn to sleep through the night and you’ll laugh at the memory of waking in a panic and checking on baby (imagining the worst) only to find him sleeping peacefully in his cozy blankets.
When you’re up to it, go out. Maybe it won’t be for very long at first but it’s so important to have community. Despite the novelty for others of meeting your precious new addition they’ll eventually settle down. It can even be nice to hand him over to a friend and take a break for a few minutes…
Be kind to yourself. Loving this child will grow your patience, your temperament, your wisdom, your resourcefulness, your trust, faith and hope.
Some moments will be doozies. Learn to forgive yourself, look for the lesson, and leave the rest in the past where it belongs.
Some moments will be dazzlers. Celebrate these. The big, the bold ones – make just as loud a noise. There’ll be quieter ones too (though no less shiny), that only a Mama’s soul will understand. Tuck them into your heart for the quiet later with a simple ‘thank you’ offered upward. For heaven sees and is cheering you on.
If you could write a letter to your past self – what would you say?
Friday, 13 September 2013
So I did something the other day I shouldn’t have. I read a blog post. Yup. Guilty as charged. It was in fact a very good article - about how this particular lady organises her afternoons.
I won’t say who she is or provide a link for you. Not because I don’t want you to read it. (There were lots of great tips) But rather that it just wasn’t a good choice for me. I generally avoid conversations about housework and what others can achieve in a given timeframe as I just can’t. I find it disheartening to know that what would be considered a good week for me, is somebody else’s afternoon. Not even a whole day!
It really didn’t help. It was the final shove I didn’t need to push this exhausted, inadequate Mama over the edge and into depression. I have no-one to blame but myself. And I have spent a good chunk of the week battling those inner voices and struggling to smile much. So I let myself be sad. My eyes persistently leaking as I once again mourned what doesn’t belong to me; deciding that I might as well embrace my feelings and acknowledge them instead of wishing them away.
The beautiful thing in all of this? He met me there. Held my hand. Let me cry for a while. Then a bit more. Gently lifting my chin He offered to take my pain, my frustrations, my shortcomings. Reminded me that it’s okay not to be perfect… That I am loved in spite of me.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (NIV)
Now, your turn…
Thursday, 5 September 2013
Here is a story I wrote earlier this year. Some parts are based on reality. Other parts are exactly as they happened. All of it is true.
Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” - Mary Anne Radmacher
The shrilling alarm pierces through her. Dazed she fishes around on the bedside table until the stop button mercifully comes out of hiding. Lingering in the quiet a few moments, she knows the day must eventually be faced.
Bones creak and limbs ache as she makes her way to the refrigerator. Bending to retrieve the juice from the bottom shelf, something odd on the tile beneath catches her eye. At first glance it looks like a dirty mark. She makes a mental note that the floors are overdue for a mopping. Slowly the realisation dawns on her that most tiles bear the same peculiar little smudge. On closer inspection the spots are not dirt. They are, in fact, lead pencil.
The guilty party is stood trial and given a chance to explain. Because goodness knows she is baffled and requires an explanation. His rationale reveals the observation of small white flecks that do not belong in the chocolate brown. It was urgent that he remedy, what to him was, a grand issue. Thus the day begins, not with juice, but a lesson in scrubbing the floor – and why one must not draw on it.
The situation would almost be comical if it were a one off. But it is not. This is far from the first time such a lesson has needed to be taught. Most likely it will not be the last. She is weary of going through these motions day after day; trying desperately to get through to a child who does not understand. Not because he means to be difficult, but rather is ignorant of the fact that he is. To him these actions make perfect sense. The puzzle is hers.
With bladder demanding attention, she retreats to the serenity that is a small room with a locked door. Or rather it would be if the floor underneath were not victim to a large puddle. The growing aroma does little for relaxation either. Semi-resigned to the facts she takes a long strand of paper and begins the clean up. At floor level another test awaits. Scrunched up, peeking out from behind the toilet bowl, two pieces of soiled paper announce their presence. He cannot see the problem with this picture. Her composure is beginning to evaporate.
With breakfast over, the next challenge comes into view. Pushing down growing resentment, she arms herself with his toothpaste and brush. Left to him, the paste would soon be discarded down the plughole. Bristles and enamel would remain strangers. There is little satisfaction to be had in watching him squirm and cry out at pain the majority of folk would not even feel. Some things just need to be done whether appreciated or not. His yellow teeth are neither attractive nor healthy. This is no time to let emotions rule.
Grateful to be done with that exercise, she busies herself with the day’s tasks. Withdrawing to the bookshelf in the corner of the room, he is content to sit and take notes about his favourite vehicles. The book already has a contents page but not nearly as detailed as the one he is constructing. For now calm is back on the throne. Perhaps today will be better.
The illusion of peace is shattered upon stripping his bed. Hidden in the pillowcase is a conglomeration of all sorts; toy cars, strange messages scribbled to who knows who, bits of junk, and in the middle of it all a twenty dollar note. She wants to be sick. Her skin crawls to think that her own flesh and blood is capable of such sneaky theft. Every time something has gone missing lately - he has stolen it. Only two days ago he had vehemently denied knowing anything about the mystery of the missing money from her purse. She had pressed him and provided ample opportunity to confess. Though she suspected guilt, there was little choice but to offer the benefit of the doubt.
Fighting the urge to slap, she hands him a wooden rolling pin - to be held out, at arms length, for five minutes. Wailing and gnashing of teeth ensue. Two minutes later he is begging to be granted reprieve from the consequence. What is this for? His mind genuinely cannot fathom how the penalty will prevent a repeat offence. Weary from all the drama she reminds him that stealing is wrong, desperately hoping that maybe this time he will comprehend. He wants to argue and insist that she does not love him. He would be better off dead. Hope is at an all time low.
Emotions twisted like an unsolved Rubik’s cube she feeds him a sandwich and sends him outside to play. He stubs a toe on the door frame, crying out in angry pain. Rushing to help and offer sympathy, she is rewarded with a low growl. Shoved away to be the helpless witness of self injury and hurtful, degrading words turned inwards. The irony of how one so needing help can fail to see the love extended to him. A riddle she has no answers for.
Trapped in a cruel maze without an exit, will she ever be able to relate to this foreigner who is her own flesh and blood? The question grates at her very core. This does not belong in dreams of motherhood.
An hour passes. It is time to come in. The strong scent of urine enters the kitchen before he does. Surely not again!
Good emotions, like patience and love, are all but used up. She takes a deliberate breath, in and out, big and deep. Mustering up the strength to make what little is left last until bedtime. Putting it out there, it is spread incredibly thin - painfully full of holes and so very fragile.
The child is sent for a shower. A check up, ten minutes later, finds him naked, unwashed, and perched atop the bathroom basin.
Eyes wild, voice strained, the tension tumbles out at frightening speed. She knows she is saying these things; it is her voice doing the screaming. Able to hear it all but so powerless to make it stop. Eyes stinging with backed up moisture she runs away. Anywhere will do. Crouching down in the solitude with her back against the cool metal of the laundry tub, the salty torrent pushes through the dam wall around her heart. It comes so quickly, the intensity catches her off guard. She presses her face into her knees in a futile attempt to stifle the hacking sobs. At last she must come up for air or be suffocated by the sheer emotion.
Quieter now, breathing steady, the tears slow to a trickle as she offers heaven a desperate prayer. Finally able to admit out loud that she does not even like this child called her son; much less herself for her seeming inability to love him. Another wave hits hard…
Looking up a silent figure stands watching. How long has he been there?
“I love you Mum,” he says. “I don’t know what’s making you cry or why you’re so upset.”
The blank expression on his face confirms this fact. And then he is handing her a piece of roughly folded paper.
“To write what’s troubling you down. When you are finished you can give it to me and I’ll help you.”
In a rare moment he comes and snuggles in close. Offers his favourite cuddly friend; the keeper of his secrets with threadbare patches to prove it. It is the most loving gesture he knows. These moments are rare treasures. They are precious pearls to be tucked away in the heart for later - for the gaping of the in between.
Singed emotions melt. Hope sprouts in a bruised spirit. This mess called motherhood is worth the struggle after all. It matters little that she does not yet possess all the answers. Glory waits patiently for those wading through the mud. For now grace is enough. Tomorrow will bring a fresh sunrise. A chance to start over - to begin again. Taking each day moment by moment, if necessary, she will triumph. Just as the child deserves a hundred second chances, so does she.