Enough

This moment is a quiet one. One where my little people are occupied and the baby is snoring on my chest and my thoughts slip into focus. Those savory thoughts I file away, deep in the back of my mind to come back to when I have the time to fully explore them. Ideas float in and out as if gliding on the summer breeze. Ideas I long to work out with the written word.

But his little sighs remind me that I have a new baby. My time is precious. And actually, I’m savoring this. Sitting here, rocking this tiny body. Peace and delight in the moment.

In the other room I hear the almost three year old humming her little ditties. She hasn’t quite been herself since the baby, and I make a mental note to sit and play wit her just as soon as my hands are free. And then my mind drifts to the six year old who is thriving in our homeschool because I work hard to create an atmosphere for learning. I feel proud of what I’ve managed with him this year, but that is territory to explore another day because down the hall a messy house calls, clothes lay in a heap on the floor, and bellies won’t fill themselves. There’s a husband to support while he’s been on the road, and a marriage to nuture when he is home. Suddenly I feel tired. Because in all this I have to sleep sometime.

And so, my friends, things get a bit neglected from time to time. Our souls collect dust and the things we enjoy crust over. All rusty in the joints. It’s the squeaky wheels that get my oil these days.

How dare we allow it, says our culture. Make you a priority. Convince yourself you are worth it. You can have it all–great kids, great marriage, a job you love, nights out with girlfriends, date nights with hubby, hobbies, spa days, and vacations.

But really, I think all I want is to simply be enough. Being Mom is enough. It’s enough, I say.

It’s enough to spend an hour making your baby smile because he likes listening to you sing. It’s enough to go for a walk and let the kids ride their bikes and then fall and scrape their knees.  It’s enough to play catch in the backyard without signing him up for T-ball. It’s enough to do the laundry, make the food, wash the dishes, organize the toys, settle the disputes. Must we really add the guilt of not doing something else onto it?

Maybe there’s more I’m missing out on. More I could have. More I should want for myself.

But I don’t. I just want to enjoy my children. I just want to do this job well.

And so I see you Mama. I see you at home, doing the day-to-day thing that isn’t worthy of an Instagram post. That thing no one gives you credit for. The thing that–really–you don’t even want credit for. I see the hard days; the ones that require an inhuman amount of patience. I see those rare days that are bliss. The ones somewhere in the middle. This is life. And it’s a glorious life. One you chose. One you commit to each morning. One you should be proud of. And one that is  enough all on its own. 

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Advocate

I left the office shaken up. They had pronounced him healthy, growing, thriving. She even said a cheery “No concerns.” Both doctor and nurse commented on how well behaved my other children had been at this check up. They smiled and laughed as my kids answered their causal questions, hearing how smart, respectful, and observant they were. It was obvious they thought highly of my little tribe. It was all going well until I declined a medical procedure. One that was totally optional and medically unnecessary.  “No thanks. We’ll skip that today.” I said politely. The mood shifted and the conversation creaked to a halt. A faded, badly printed waiver was waved at me along with a pen. Sign this and they’d have me on my way.

But I didn’t. I wouldn’t. I did not agree with what the document stated or ambigously implied, and was not about to release my parental rights by doing so. Instead I asked a few questions. What was this for? Did I have to sign it? Was there an alternative form I could sign instead?

But my concerns fell on deaf ears. No longer was I the good mom with the healthy, well mannered kids. No longer was I the person in the room who knew my children best. I was a time-waster. A lengthy distraction to the rest of the doctor’s busy day. An uneducated, overprotective worrier. None of this was said–only implied through curt answers and one-sided discussion. My concerns were not addressed. My worries were not relieved, or even open to discussion. It was this or I’d be shown to the door.

So I politely told the doctor I’d take the waiver with me and think about it, and bring it back with a signature if I wanted to stay in her practice. She smiled, uttered an awkward goodbye, and left the room. And I hauled the three kids out feeling a bit humiliated and unnerved, but proud of myself for trusting my instincts in the face of intimidating opposition.

Weeks later I stumbled into a conversation between three seasoned homeschool mothers. Their topic was the special needs of their children and the lack of resources and support offered by the school district. They discussed the tactics they used to try and get the help their children need, because clearly, a discussion, an inquiry, their asking for help, was not enough. They presented children who had real, unique needs. Challenges far beyond the simple answers of “Let’s just wait and see how he does.” Or “We’ll assign you aid.” None of this was a good enough answer for these motherr. They had been there and done that. So here they were, turning to each other for help when the experts failed them.

My phone buzzed later that evening, with a text from a friend. Through our exchanges I could sense her own frustration with the academic situation surrounding her sweet girl. A bright, gifted, extraordinary child who learns differently than most. They had tried it all. Different schools, different programs, different teachers. Specialists, therapies, testing. And still she struggled. My friend feels the pain daily, never knowing what kind of child she will pick up from school at the end of the day. One who has been uplifted, challenged, and praised for her differences. Or one who is defeated by the constant struggle of fitting into a system and timeline that just doesn’t seem to work for her.

We mothers are experts at standing on the front lines, face-to-face with opposition. We know what is best for our children, in our families, at this point in time. We are smart, loving women who fight tirelessly for our babies.

But we are rarely seen that way by those who can offer help. Instead we are the problem. We are the paranoid, the overbearing, the difficult. And all because we simply want to advocate for our children. Because we seek an alternative. Because we live with them every single day and know that what is often arbitrarily recommended is not necessarily what is best for this child.

We are experts of our own right. Knowledge gained firsthand, tested by trial, error, and careful study. But when our motherly wisdom steers us in a direction different from that of the leading research, we are shamed into submission or coerced by fear.

But at the end of the day, these are our children. Children who depend upon us for their existence. Children who need our never-ending love, support, and wisdom. Children who do not possess the maturity or life experience to make difficult decisions on their own.

We parents are their voice. We are the champions of their cause. We hear them best and love them most.

And so in the disapproval of the experts, I advocate. I ask the hard questions, the ones the experts wish would just go away. Despite the looks, the attitudes, the inadequate alternatives, I keep pressing on. I find a different doctor. I educate myself better. I look for those whom I can help and who can help me. Others can call me difficult. Call me overbearing. Call me anything they want.

Because I have three precious little stones, and they call me Mom.

Tumbling

Rage. Anger. Screaming. A child who won’t cooperate. Won’t give in. Won’t back down. She is tumbling in the current while the River shaves off rough edges and knotty pits. It is not a pleasant process. Bouncing in the water she is out of control. There is no sense of direction; up and down she bobs in the waves never knowing what emotion will come with the next swell.

Painfully, I watch from the shore. My arms are burdened with another stone–one who needs me as much as she does. But he is too small for the mighty river and so I am helpless to save her. I am unable to jump in after her and rescue her from the jarring. And as her face twists in pain and voice rages against my gentle urgings, my heart breaks for her.

As the Stone Keeper my job is merely to bring them here to this life giving river. And He takes it from there. Though she may struggle, the undulating current is refining her. Though I may cry, this precious Ruby was never mine to keep. Only to raise. Only to love and teach and guide each day.

Despite my best efforts, I don’t know how to ease her stress. I don’t know how to help her adjust to this new person who has interrupted her life. All the things I thought I knew seem useless now. The experience gained while standing on the shore, watching her brother go through the same thing years back, seems to fail me. She is altogether different. A beautiful gem in the making. But the going is tough right now, and I feel useless.

All I can do is sit there, holding her, crying along with her, hoping for a better day tomorrow, and praying I can shine bright enough for her to find the Light herself.

Newborn

Soft squeaks awake me from a shallow sleep. Seven warm pounds stir and stretch against my deflated belly, rooting around to find a meal. I awaken to find two dark little eyes peeking at me through the dim light of our bedroom.

The whole world is sleeping, and my whole world is you.

Three babies in and most would think me a seasoned mother. One who would recognize, even come to expect, this feeling. But its all still so wonderfully new. I get butterflies when you look into my eyes. And your brown skin and dark hair are so beautiful I cry just looking at you. Every time I set you down to give my tired arms a rest, I miss holding you. And when you curl up in a ball, sleeping on my chest, my heart cracks open letting even more of you in. Pressing even more of me out, making a space all your own inside me. Continue reading

Broken

On New Year’s Eve I sat in the rocking chair near my bed, struggling to put on my socks, a swollen belly limiting my motion while this little miracle kicked around inside me. Tears caught in my throat. A familiar feeling these days. Another day of pain.

Across the room an unmade bed seduced me with it’s fluffy pillows and warm sheets. A place of tenderness for my hurts. A warm embrace ready to thaw my frozen soul. A hiding spot to sink into until all this was over. Voices in our house interrupted my numbness; they were both crying while he tried to settle the squabble. These children needed their mother; this man needed his wife. And I realized I was capable of being neither.

I was broken. And ashamed.

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A Vision for my Valentine

He rises in the early hours of the morning. Toes touch the cold floor, back creaking upward after a long night. He breathes, bracing himself for the day, surveying his battlefield. Planning the strategy. Calculating his moves. No one prepared him for this. No one gave him the plans, the skills, the basic training. He learned this part by committing. By investing his heart into uncomfortable places.

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